2015 Silver Slugger Awards

The 2015 Silver Slugger award winners were announced Thursday night on MLB Network. While the Gold Glove awards given out on Tuesday focused on the defensive side of baseball, the Silver Slugger awards are given annually to the best offensive player at each position in both theimages1 American League and the National League.

Marking the 36th annual Silver Slugger awards, which began in 1980, the awards are voted on by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball (managers can not vote for their own players), with voters considering several offensive categories in selecting the winners. Those categories include batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, in addition to coaches’ and managers’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value.

Barry Bonds’ 12 career Silver Slugger awards stand as the most all-time by a single player at any position, and no one from this season’s winners are even close. Here are the list of winners with my thoughts on each:

OUTFIELD

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Barry Bonds holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as an outfielder, with twelve.

NL Winners – Bryce Harper (1st career), Andrew McCutchen (4th career) and Carlos Gonzalez (2nd career)

AL Winners – Mike Trout (4th career), Nelson Cruz (1st career) and J.D. Martinez (1st career)

The year that Bryce Harper had was historic, and he more than deserves the Silver Slugger, blasting 42 homers all while hitting .330 and tallying a 1.109 OPS (the second highest ever for a player age 22 or younger, behind only Ted Williams). Andrew McCutchen picked up his fourth consecutive Silver Slugger award after another solid year with the Pirates, and Carlos Gonzalez won his second career award by having an explosive second half of the season in which he hit 27 of his 40 homers for 2015. On the American League side of things, it was Mike Trout picking up his fourth Silver Slugger, having now won the award in each of his first four MLB seasons. Trout cranked out 41 homers while hitting just a tick under .300, and proved even further that he is one of the best players in the game. Nelson Cruz and J.D. Martinez picked up their first career Silver Slugger awards for their offensive contributions from 2015.

FIRST BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Miguel Cabrera holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a first baseman, with six.

NL Winner – Paul Goldschmidt (2nd career)

AL Winner – Miguel Cabrera (6th career)

Paul Goldschmidt’s 33 homers and .321 average led all of first basemen in the National League, and he became the first 1st baseman since Vladimir Guerrero back in 2002 with an OPS of over 1.000 and 20+ stolen bases in a season. It was once again Miguel Cabrera receiving the honor for the American League, as although he had a somewhat down year by his standards — playing in only 119 games — he did more than enough to take home the hardware.

SECOND BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Ryne Sandberg holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a second baseman, with seven.

NL Winner – Dee Gordon (1st career)

AL Winner – Jose Altuve (2nd career)

Dee Gordon has really broken out over the past few seasons, but he really put it all together in 2015. When all was said and done, Gordon hit a cool .333 on the season after getting off to an unbelievably hot start in April. Gordon is the first NL second baseman since Jackie Robinson to win the league batting title, which truly shows how great of a year he had. Like Gordon, Jose Altuve has become a star in recent years. His 204 hits and 58 stolen bases in 2015 led all of the AL, and Altuve is just the 2nd AL second baseman with multiple 200+ hit, 30+ stolen base seasons, joining Rod Carew.

THIRD BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Wade Boggs holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a third baseman, with eight.

NL Winner – Nolan Arenado (1st career)

AL Winner – Josh Donaldson (1st career)

Both Noland Arenado and Josh Donaldson picked up their very first career Silver Slugger awards on Thursday night, but it’s likely to be the first of many for both. With 42 homers — tied for most in the NL with Bryce Harper — and 130 RBI’s (most in MLB), Arenado finally cemented himself as a full on superstar player in 2015. Donaldson did much of the same, hitting 41 homers and driving in 123 of his own on the verge of what is likely to be an MVP season for him.

SHORTSTOP

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Barry Larkin holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a shortstop, with nine.

NL Winner – Brandon Crawford (1st career)

AL Winner – Xander Bogaerts (1st career)

As with third base, this category also saw both recipients winning for the first time in their career. But also as with the previous category, it’s likely that these won’t be the only Silver Sluggers for them in their careers. Brandon Crawford exploded this season, increasing his homer total from 10 in 2014 up to 21 this year, and setting career highs in hits, doubles, homers, RBI’s and runs. While Xander Bogaerts didn’t have quite the same caliber year, he still had a good one, with a .320 average and 7 homers, becoming the first Red Sox winner of this award since Nomar Garciaparra in 1997.

CATCHER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Mike Piazza holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a catcher, with ten.

NL Winner – Buster Posey (3rd career)

AL Winner – Brian McCann (6th career)

Buster Posey has been seen as one of the best hitting catchers in all of baseball for quite some time, and he proved why yet again in 2015. His .318 average and 19 homers led all MLB catchers, as he did in the majority of conceivable categories. In the AL, it was Brian McCann picking up his first American League Silver Slugger with his 26 homers, after winning five others in the past with the National League Braves.

PITCHER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Mike Hampton holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a pitcher, with five.

Winner – Madison Bumgarner (2nd career)

It’s common knowledge that most pitchers simply can’t hit. However, for the few that can, it is a true thing of beauty. Madison Bumgarner falls in that category, leading all pitchers with hits (17), RBI’s (9) and homers (5) this past season. His .247 average isn’t great upon first glance, but when you consider the fact that he’s a pitcher, it takes on a different context. Hitting a homer off of Clayton Kershaw in 2015, and even being called on to pinch hit a few times, there’s no other option for this award than Bumgarner.

DESIGNATED HITTER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: David Ortiz holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a Designated Hitter, with six.

Winner – Kendrys Morales (1st career)

Something doesn’t add up with the winner of this category. Don’t get me wrong — Kendrys Morales had a great year, hitting 22 homers and leading the Royals in most statistical categories. But there were several other better candidates, in my opinion. David Ortiz once again had his name in the hat after a 37 homer season, as did Edwin Encarnacion with his 39 dingers (the person many people felt should’ve won). However, despite that, the award was given to Morales. It is what it is, but I can’t seem to wrap my head around this one.

2015 SILVER SLUGGER AWARDS FAST FACTS

  • There were nine first time Silver Slugger award winners.
  • There were five Silver Slugger award winners that also won last year.
  • The Giants led with the most winners, with three Silver Slugger award recipients.
  • There were five Silver Slugger winners who also won a 2015 Gold Glove.
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