Sonny Gray named Twins MVP as Diamond Award winners announced

After an exciting season that featured a level of postseason success not seen in two decades but still ended sooner than many hoped, the Minnesota Twins have announced their team award winners.

Known as the Diamond Awards, which are chosen by the Twin Cities Baseball Writers Association of America, the honors highlight the team’s standouts for the previous season. They’re officially presented during a ceremony that is set for Jan. 25.

Starting pitcher Sonny Gray was voted as the Most Valuable Twin during the 2023 season, as well as the Twins Pitcher of the Year. He posted an 8-8 record with a 2.79 ERA that ranked third in the entire league, while also tying for most starts among Twins pitchers, ranking second in innings pitched and third in strikeouts. Gray also allowed just eight home runs during the regular season, which equated to .39 homers per 9 innings, the lowest mark in the majors and the lowest ever by a qualified Twins pitcher.

The 33-year-old will be a free agent this offseason, although the Twins are expected to make him a qualifying offer.

Infielder Royce Lewis was voted as the winner of the Bill Boni Award, which is given to the team’s most outstanding rookie. He returned from injury to hit .309 with 15 home runs, 52 RBI, 20 walks, six stolen bases and 36 runs with a .372 on-base percentage, .548 slugging percentage and .921 OPS in 58 games. He also slugged four grand slams, setting a new franchise record for most in a single season while also matching the record for a rookie in AL/NL history.

Among rookies with at least 200 at-bats this season, Lewis ranked firsts in batting average and slugging percentage, second in OPS and third in on-base percentage.

Catcher Ryan Jeffers was named the Charles O. Johnson Award winner as the most improved Twins player. He hit .276 with 14 home runs, 43 RBI, 33 walks and 46 runs while posting an .858 OPS in 96 games. The totals were career-highs in nearly every offensive category, and he also led all qualifying MLB catchers in BABIP and OPS+ while ranking second in OPS, third in slugging percentage and on-base percentage, and sixth in batting WAR.

Shortstop Carlos Correa won the Bob Allison Award, which is given to the player who best shows determination, hustle, tenacity and competitive spirirt and leadership on and off the field. He also was named the Jim Kaat Award winner as the team’s best defensive player. It’s the second consecutive year he’s won both awards.

Correa re-joined the Twins on a long contract in the offseason, then hit .230 with 18 home runs, 65 RBI, 59 walks and 60 runs while posting a .711 OPS across 135 games, a down year by his standards as he battled through injuries. However, he led the team in games played, ranked fourth among all qualified shortstops in fielding percentage (.987) and committed the fewest errors (6) among all MLB shortstops that played at least 1,000 innings.

Starting pitcher Pablo López was named the Mike Augustin “Media Good Guy” Award winner and also received the Carl R. Pohlad Outstanding Community Service Award. After coming over to the Twins via a trade with Miami, López went 11-8 with a 3.66 ERA, notching 234 strikeouts compared to 48 walks across 194 innings. He also signed a four-year extension to remain in Minnesota.

Off the field, López and his wife, Kaylee, were regularly at community events, including donating to the Twins Community Fund, visiting hospitals, sorting donations, speaking at schools, participating in the organization’s high school leadership academy and signing countless autographs for fans.

Third base and outfield coach Tommy Watkins, also a former infielder, was named the Kirby Puckett Award winner for community service by a Twins alumni. He has been part of the organization since the Twins selected him in the 38th round of the 1998 MLB Draft. During the 2023 season, he participated in several team-sponsored community activities while also working to help the local community through his Tommy Watkins Foundations.

Finally, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Mitch Keller was named the Dick Siebert Award winner, which is given to the Upper Midwest player of the year. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa native went 13-9 with a 4.21 ERA across 194.1 innings for the Pirates.

The Twins say the 19th annual Diamond Awards will honor this year’s winners, as well as the still-to-be-determined winners of the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award and the Terry Ryan Play Ball! Minnesota Award, and the winners of the Sherry Robertson Award (Brooks Lee) for Twins Minor League Player of the Year and the Jim Rantz Award (Cory Lewis) for Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

The proceeds from the event 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. For more information on the event, click here or call 612-624-4897.