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Twins stars making cases to be MVP, Cy Young candidates

Could Minnesota have a second tandem win the awards?
Author:
Jorge Polanco

Ask any Twins fan what their favorite team to watch in the last two decades has been and they'll probably say it was the 2001 squad that started 54-27 or the 2006 team that won 71 of its final 104 games after being eight games under .500 in early June. 

It was the 2006 team that roared back to win the AL Central over the Tigers and White Sox, only to be swept out of the playoffs by the Oakland Athletics. Regardless, the '06 team pulled off the rare feat of having tandem MVP and Cy Young award winners. 

Justin Morneau was voted the AL MVP and Johan Santana won the AL Cy Young award. Since then, a team winning both awards has happened just twice. The Dodgers did it thanks to Clayton Kershaw winning the 2014 Cy Young and MVP awards, and the 2013 Tigers made it happen with Miguel Cabrera (MVP) and Max Scherzer (Cy Young). 

It happened just four times between 1991 and 2005, and only 13 times between 1957 and 1990. 

It's early, but there's no reason the Twins couldn't do it again this summer with Jake Odorizzi surprising the baseball world as a Cy Young candidate, and the likes of Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco doing enough to be MVP candidates. 

Jake Odorizzi's Cy Young resume

  • ERA: 2.16 (1st in AL)
  • WAR: 1.9 (4th in AL)
  • WHIP: 0.99 (3rd in AL)
  • BAA: .184 (2nd in AL)
  • OBP: .259 (4th in AL)
  • SLG: .261 (1st in AL)

Odorizzi has some stiff competition in the AL Cy Young race, including Houston ace Justin Verlander. But Odorizzi has been phenomenal without piling up strikeouts at the rate that a guy like Verlander does, which makes his opponents' batting average, on-base and slugging percentages even more impressive. 

The one thing going against Odorizzi is that he has just four quality starts (36 percent of his starts), largely due to manager Rocco Baldelli pulling him in the sixth inning when he's yet to reach 100 pitches. 

Odorizzi has a 0.94 ERA in five May starts, and he's allowed just six runs over his last eight starts. 

Jorge Polanco's MVP resume

  • AVG: .335 (2nd in AL)
  • OBP: .408 (3rd in AL)
  • SLG: .594 (4th in AL)
  • OPS: 1.002 (5th in AL)
  • Hits: 66 (1st in AL)
  • 2B: 14 (t-5th in AL)
  • 3B: 5 (3rd in AL)
  • XBH: 28 (t-1st in AL)
  • WAR: 3.4 (t-1st in AL)

The switch-hitter is top five in the American League in nine offensive categories, including tied first with Mike Trout in WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Look across the league and you won't find many players on winning teams doing what Polanco is. In fact, there's only one, and he – Houston's George Springer – was just recently placed on the injured list. 

Eddie Rosario's MVP resume

If the MVP vote were held today, Rosario would lose votes to Polanco. But that doesn't mean Rosario can't catch Polanco. All he really needs to do is avoid massive slumps. 

On April 20, Rosario was slashing .300/.347/.743 and then slumped with just eight hits in his next 59 at-bats, causing his slash line to free fall to .225/.263/.535 on May 7. But since May 8 he's been a monster again, pushing his numbers back up to .285/.316/.565 with 16 homers and 45 RBI. 

He's second in the league in homers, first in RBI, fifth in runs (37) and seventh in slugging percentage, all while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense in left field. 

Rosario has made just one error and his four outfield assists is tied with Kansas City's Alex Gordon for most among MLB left fielders. 

With the best record in baseball (36-16), these Twins players deserve as much or more attention as any star in the big leagues. 

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