Twins Announce 2014 Diamond Award Winners

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After a fourth consecutive 90+ loss season, you wouldn’t think there would be much to celebrate, but the Minnesota Twins announced their annual Diamond Award winners on Thursday anyway.  The winners (and who I felt should have also been considered) were as follows:

Most Valuable Twin – Phil Hughes.  Kind of a no-brainer on this one, right?  With apologies to LaVelle E Neal III and his feelings on pitchers winning MVP awards, Hughes was by far the highlight of yet another lost season.  His 2014 statistics were impressive:  16-10, 3.52 ERA, over 200 innings pitched, and most importantly, a mind-boggling 186 strikeouts to only 16, yes 16, walks, a major league record.  Obviously his stats alone were MVP worthy for the Twins in 2014, but also his willingness and ability to take the ball every fifth day and be a bulldog on the mound.  Also considered: No one, really.  Kurt Suzuki could have had some consideration for his fine first half, but slumped the last two months.

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Most Outstanding Rookie – Danny Santana.  Also not much of a head-scratcher on this one.  Santana was a jack-of-all-trades this season filling in at centerfield where the Twins were perilously thin depth-wise.  Penciled in as the Twins long-term answer at shortstop, general manager called Santana a godsend for his versatility this season.  His statistics were also impressive: 101 games played, .319 batting average, 7 HR, 27 doubles, and 7 triples.  Also considered: Kennys Vargas.  Vargas had a first 100 at-bats that were in the company of Albert Pujols & Joe DiMaggio. While Vargas regressed a bit after his hot start, he finished the year batting .274 with 9 homeruns and 38 RBI in only 53 games, primarily out of the DH spot.

Charles O. Johnson Award (Most Improved Player) – Eduardo Escobar.  After a year where he struggled in 2013, Escobar rebounded nicely in 2014, appearing in 133 games batting .275 with 6 homeruns and 37 RBI.  He also showed versatility in the field playing a number of positions and was the primary shortstop for the Twins. Also considered: Trevor Plouffe. Many of Plouffe’s 2014 offensive numbers remained static from 2013, but his improved defense this season should have been recognized.  He improved in every defensive advanced analytic from last year to this, and his hard work to improve his defense should have been recognized.

Jim Kaat Award Winner (Best Defensive Player) – Brian Dozier.  Dozier had a solid year defensively, although the number of errors went from 6 in 2013 to 15 in 2014.  He added some highlight reel plays in the field, which always helps with this type of award. Also considered:  Plouffe (see above) and Suzuki.

Pitcher of the Year – Hughes.  See above…’nuff said.  Also considered:  Ricky Nolasco. Sorry, just seeing if you were still paying attention. I will say that Glen Perkins with his All-Star Game save deserves recognition, but not enough to be considered for this award in 2014.

Carl R. Pohlad Community Service Award – Brian Duensing.  His extensive work with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and helped raise awareness for childhood cancer throughout the Twin Cities.  Also considered:  Glen Perkins.  His founding and annual running of the 15’s 5k benefitted the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Media Good Guy Award – Ron Gardenhire.  Always generous with his time with the media, gracious with his comments in defeat, and really did fit the name of the award.  It’s a proper send-off for the now former-manager.

Until next time….

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