Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN — The Minnesota Twins today announced the recipients of the Diamond Awards, their annual awards for the 2019 season based on voting conducted by the Twin Cities Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. In addition, the Twins and the BBWAA announced plans for the 15th
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN — The Minnesota Twins today announced the recipients of the Diamond Awards, their annual awards for the 2019 season based on voting conducted by the Twin Cities Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. In addition, the Twins and the BBWAA announced plans for the 15th annual Diamond Awards, which will be held Thursday, January 23, 2020 at The Depot Minneapolis and will benefit research, education and care in brain, nerve and muscle disorders at the University of Minnesota.
Designated Hitter Nelson Cruz is the winner of the Calvin R. Griffith Award (the Twins’ first owner) given to the Most Valuable Twin. After signing with Minnesota as a free agent in January, the 39-year-old played in 120 games and hit .311 (141-for-454) with 26 doubles, 41 home runs, 108 RBI, 81 runs scored, 56 walks and a 1.031 OPS -- the best of his 15-year career and matching the Twins all-time record. His home run and RBI totals, all collected as a DH, set Twins single-season records for the position. Cruz ranked second in the American League in OPS and slugging percentage (.639), tied for third in home runs, sixth in batting average and seventh in RBI, joining Boston’s J.D. Martinez as the only two players to rank in the top-10 for all three AL Triple Crown categories. He also joined Hank Aaron (1963) and Barry Bonds (2003 and 2004) as the only three players in baseball history to hit 40 homers at age 39-or-older.
Cruz has also been named the winner of the Bob Allison Award (former Twins player) given to the Twins player who exemplifies determination, hustle, tenacity, competitive spirit and leadership both on and off the field; and, as the winner of the Carl R. Pohlad Community Service Award. Among his many efforts to benefit those at home and in Twins Territory, Cruz raised funds through the Big League Impact ALL WIN campaign to impact the Monte Cristi Education Center in his native Dominican Republic. He also hosted a vitilla clinic with the Twins RBI All-Stars in July. Since the Bob Allison Award was introduced in 2005, Cruz is the first Twins player to win all three awards in the same season.
Left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers is the winner of the Joseph W. Haynes Award (former Twins Executive Vice President) given to the Twins Pitcher of the Year. He emerged as a dominant closer after earning the club’s full-time role in June, tying for fourth in the American League and ninth in baseball with 30 saves overall, and ranking second in MLB with a Minnesota reliever-record 8.18 strikeout-to-walk ratio (90 SO, 11 BB). The fourth left-hander in Twins history to reach the 30-save plateau, Rogers finished 2-4 with 10 holds and a 2.61 ERA (69.0 IP, 20 ER) in 60 appearances.
Infielder Luis Arraez is the winner of the Bill Boni Award (former St. Paul Dispatch-Pioneer Press Executive Sports Editor) given to the Twins Most Outstanding Rookie. The Venezuela native, who made his Major League debut on May 18 and returned to the big leagues for good on June 18, set the club rookie record for batting average (min. 350 plate appearances) with a .334 mark (109-for-326). He also set Twins rookie records for fewest strikeouts (29) and highest on-base percentage (.399), while his batting average was the fifth-highest by a 22-year-old in the past 100 years (min. 100 PA), behind Ted Williams (.406 in 1941), Freddie Lindstrom (.358 in 1928), Stan Musial (.357 in 1943) and Joe DiMaggio (.346 in 1937). In 92 games, Arraez added 20 doubles, one triple, four home runs, 28 RBI, 54 runs scored, 36 walks and an .838 OPS.
Outfielder Byron Buxton is the winner of the Jim Kaat Award (former Twins pitcher) for Twins Defensive Player of the Year. Buxton posted a .991 fielding percentage (224 total chances, 2 errors) in his 86 games (78 starts) in centerfield, while his zone rating of .951 would have led the American League with enough games played to qualify. The Twins were 53-25 (.679) in 2019 when Buxton was the starting centerfielder. He also won the award in 2016 and 2017.
Catcher Mitch Garver is the winner of the Charles O. Johnson Award (former Minneapolis Star Tribune Sports Editor), awarded to the most improved Twin. He led all Major League catchers with a club-record 30 home runs at the position and topped American League backstops with 65 RBI, while his 3.89 catcher’s ERA ranked fourth in the AL. Garver played in 93 games overall and finished the season with a .273 batting average (85-for-311), 16 doubles, one triple, 31 home runs, 67 RBI, 70 runs scored and a .995 OPS -- the sixth-best ever by a Twin with at least 350 plate appearances.
For the second consecutive year, right-handed pitcher Kyle Gibson has been named the winner of the Mike Augustin “Media Good Guy” Award (former Pioneer Press Sports Writer). Gibson, who went 13-7 with a 4.84 ERA (160.0 IP, 86 ER), 56 walks and 160 strikeouts in 34 games (29 starts), joins Torii Hunter (2006 and 2007) and Michael Cuddyer (2010 and 2011) as back-to-back winners of the “Media Good Guy” award.
Tampa Bay Rays right-handed pitcher Nick Anderson is the winner of the Dick Siebert Award (former University of Minnesota Baseball Coach) given to the Upper Midwest Player of the Year. The Crosby, Minnesota native made a combined 68 relief appearances for the Miami Marlins and Rays, going 5-4 with one save, 16 holds, a 3.32 ERA (65.0 IP, 24 ER), 18 walks and 110 strikeouts.
Former Twins first baseman Justin Morneau will be given the Kirby Puckett Award for Twins Alumni Community Service. The former American League MVP, who moved to Minnesota full-time after his retirement as a player, works to raise funds and acts as a spokesman for youth with rheumatoid arthritis, has been instrumental in the success of the annual “Home for the Holidays” event with the Minnesota Assistance Council of Veterans at Target Field, and -- along with his wife Krista -- hosts an annual holiday coat drive in the Twin Cities. As a player, Morneau won the 2009 Carl R. Pohlad Award.
The 15th annual Diamond Awards dinner, which will be held on Thursday, January 23, 2020 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at The Depot Minneapolis, will honor the 2019 BBWAA award recipients as well as the winners of the Sherry Robertson Award (Trevor Larnach) for the Twins Minor League Player of the Year and the Jim Rantz Award (Randy Dobnak) for the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
All proceeds from the event will benefit the University of Minnesota’s innovative research and patient care focused on ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), ataxia, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Along with the award winners, current and former Twins players and coaches are scheduled to appear at the event. Corporate sponsorship opportunities, tables and individual tickets are now available. For more information on the event visit www.minnesotadiamondawards.org or call (612) 301-8305.