Mauer wins Twins' MVP honors
Nathan, Cuddyer, Mijares, Span also get Diamond Awards
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins catcher Joe Mauer will have to wait until next month to learn whether he's earned his first American League MVP Award.But on Monday, Mauer was named his team's MVP for the 2009 season. The Twins announced their 2009 Diamond Awards, which are voted on by the Twin Cities Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The awards will be given out at the fifth annual Diamond Awards Dinner, on Jan. 28 at the Hilton Minneapolis. The event will benefit brain, nerve and muscle disorders research at the University of Minnesota. Mauer, who became the first catcher to win three batting titles after hitting .365, was selected as the winner of the Calvin R. Griffith Award. In addition to leading the American League in average yet again, Mauer led the league with a .444 on-base percentage and a .587 slugging percentage. He also set career highs in home runs (28) and RBIs (96). All of that came even with Mauer missing the first month of the season due to lower back inflammation. In addition to being named the Twins' MVP, Mauer also received the Dick Siebert Award, given to the Upper Midwest player of the year for the second year in a row. Also for the second year in a row, closer Joe Nathan was named the Twins' pitcher of the year, with the Joseph W. Haynes Award. Nathan, 34, set the Twins' single-season save record by converting 47 saves in 2009. He posted a 2-2 record and a 2.10 ERA in 70 relief appearances. Nathan has recorded 36 or more saves in six consecutive seasons, making him only the second pitcher in Major League history (Trevor Hoffman, seven seasons) to accomplish that feat. Right fielder Michael Cuddyer was selected as the winner of the Charles O. Johnson Award for the most improved Twin. After being limited to just 71 games in 2008 because of a variety of injuries, Cuddyer batted .276 with 94 RBIs and a career-high 32 home runs in 2009 while playing in a career-high 153 games. Cuddyer was also chosen as the winner of the Bob Allison Award, given to the Twins player who exemplifies determination, hustle, tenacity, competitive spirit and leadership both on and off the field. In addition to being a key contributor on the field for the Twins and the player who awards the game ball after each contest, Cuddyer also played a strong leadership role within the community. Cuddyer served as a member of the Minnesota Twins Community Fund Board and hosts a "Cuddy's Buddy" at batting practice prior to each Saturday home game during the season, among other charitable endeavors. Left-handed reliever Jose Mijares was honored with the Bill Boni Award, given to the Twins' most outstanding rookie. Mijares, 24, posted a 2.34 ERA in 71 relief appearances in 2009. It was the sixth lowest ERA among all American League relief pitchers. He issued 23 walks and struck out 55 batters in 61 2/3 innings in his rookie season. Outfielder Denard Span was named the winner of the Mike Augustin Award, given to the Twins player who fosters healthy relations with the media. In addition to appearing on a weekly radio show and participating in several public service ads, Span was one of the players who regularly made himself available to the media throughout the season. In addition to honoring the BBWAA award recipients, the Diamond Awards dinner will recognize the winners of other awards given by the organization. That includes the Sherry Robertson Award (Ben Revere, Minor League player of the year), the Jim Rantz Award (David Bromberg, Minor League pitcher of the year), the Carl R. Pohlad Community Service Award (Justin Morneau) and the Kirby Puckett Award (Rod Carew). For information on the event, call the Twins at (612) 33-TWINS or 1-800-33-TWINS, or Valerie Petermann at the Minnesota Medical Foundation at (612) 624-4444. You can also visit http://www.minnesotadiamondawards.org.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.