The Runner Sports

Can A Twin Win Player Of The Month In August?

For the second time this month, Giancarlo Stanton has won the National League Player of the Week Award. Also for the second time this month, his American League counterpart is a Minnesota Twin. The second week of the month he shared the title with Eddie Rosario, and now he shares it with Byron Buxton.

Stanton will probably win the National League Player of the Month Award for August, but it remains unclear if one of the Twins can win the award in the American League. So far, Rosario and Buxton lead the competition, but they are not the only Twins having a phenomenal month. Joe Mauer, Jorge Polanco, and Brian Dozier are all right up there with them. So which Twin has the best chance?

Eddie Rosario has been great for a while and he is having a great August, hitting .300 with seven homers and 19 runs scored. All of those numbers are great, but none of them are better than third best on the team. So sorry, Rosario, but not good enough this time around.

Same goes for Joe Mauer, whose phenomenal .344 average and .402 on-base percentage for the month are second and third, respectively. Plus he only got one ball out of the park, which is paltry compared to his teammates.

Then there’s Brian Dozier, who leads the team with nine homers on the month. Pretty good, but his batting average is at .308, which is great but still overshadowed by his primary competitors.

Jorge Polanco is by far the best on the team when it comes to batting average, as his .378 mark is well ahead of Mauer’s second place number. He also has the best on-base percentage for the month, at .411; a slim lead over Dozier and Mauer. Polanco’s primary weakness is his four home runs. Not a bad total, but not typical player of the month quality. The question for the shortstop is whether his high average and OBP are good enough to outweigh that lower home run total.

Standing in his way, not surprisingly if you have watched a game this month, is Byron Buxton. Buxton has the third best average of the month, .330, and the second most home runs, eight. His only real negatives are his strikeout rate, which is higher than anyone on the team not named Sanó, and his low walk rate, which only has his OBP .032 higher than his average.

Still, Buxton has the best WAR on the team because he has been a better all-around player than his competitors. We all know that Buxton is a phenomenal defender and baserunner, but the stats show just how much better he has been than his teammates. Buxton has a 2.6 defensive WAR, while Polanco is the only one of his offensively dominant teammates to have a positive defensive WAR, but it is only a fifth of Buxton’s.

The same goes for runs produced on the bases. Dozier and Polanco have been more productive than hurtful on the bases, while Mauer and Rosario have been harmful. But again, Polanco’s .6 base running runs pales in comparison to Buxton’s 2.5. I guess that’s what eight steals without getting caught will do for you.

So Buxton has been the best player on the Twins by pretty much any measure, except for getting on base, where Jorge Polanco has been as good as it gets. But Buxton has been so much better than Polanco on power, baserunning, and defense that he deserves to be the Twins’ Player of the Month.

But is he the American League Player of the Month? The only American League player listed with a higher WAR than Buxton for August is Josh Donaldson, who only had him edged by .1. Buxton crushes Donaldson in defense, baserunning, and batting average. However, Donaldson has hit a phenomenal 12 homers on the month, and has walked his way to an on-base percentage of .430.

This means the debate for American League Player of the Month will come down to how the voters value runs produced with the bat against runs produced on the bases and prevented in the field. I would not be surprised to see Buxton get the nod, though the raw stats of home runs and on-base percentage probably give Donaldson the edge. So even though Buxton made a strong push on Sunday, he made need a little extra kick in this series against the White Sox to put himself over the top.

Charlie Gillmer

Charlie Gillmer

Charlie Gillmer is a lifelong Twins fan who spends most nights dreaming of learning a knuckleball and pitching them to a World Series victory.
Charlie Gillmer

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