What a hit: Nelson Cruz named Twins’ MVP, takes home multiple honors

Nelson Cruz was named the Twins’ MVP for 2019 on Tuesday as the team announced the recipients of its annual Diamond Awards, which are given based on voting conducted by the Twin Cities Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

The 39-year-old Cruz received the Calvin R Griffith award after hitting .311 with 26 doubles, 41 home runs, 108 RBIs and having a 1.031 OPS in his first season with the club. The designated hitter was signed as a free agent last winter and the Twins picked up their $12 million option on him for 2020 after he helped guide the club to its first AL Central title since 2010.

Cruz also received two other honors. He was named the winner of the Bob Allison award — given to the player who exemplifies determination, hustle, tenacity, competitive spirit and leadership both on and off the field — and the Carl R. Pohlad community service award.

Also honored were:

  • Lefthanded reliever Taylor Rogers was named the Twins’ pitcher of the year. He tied for fourth in the AL and ninth in baseball with 30 saves and was second in the big leagues with a Twins reliever-record 8.18 strikeout-to-walk ratio (90 SO, 11 BB).
  • Second baseman Luis Arraez was named most outstanding rookie. Arraez, 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 at .334. He also set Twins’ rookie records for fewest strikeouts (29) and highest on-base percentage (.399).
  •  Center Field Byron Buxton was named defensive player of the year. Buxton posted a .991 fielding percentage (224 total chances, two errors) in an injury-shortened season (86 games and 78 starts). His zone rating of .951 would have led the AL with enough games played to qualify. He also won the award in 2016 and 2017.
  • Catcher Mitch Garver was named the most improved Twin. He led all big-league catchers with a club-record 30 home runs at the position and topped AL catchers with 65 RBIs, while his 3.89 catcher’s ERA ranked fourth in the AL.
  • Righthanded pitcher Kyle Gibson received the media good guy award.
  • Tampa Bay Rays righthanded pitcher Nick Anderson won the Dick Siebert award as the Upper Midwest player of the year. The Crosby, Minn., 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, 18 walks and 110 strikeouts.
  • Former Twins first baseman Justin Morneau received the Kirby Puckett award for Twins alumni community service.