2016 Silver Slugger Awards

The 2016 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 37th 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 – Charlie Blackmon (1st career), Christian Yelich (1st career) and Yoenis Cespedes (1st career)

AL Winners – Mark Trumbo (1st career), Mookie Betts (1st career) and Mike Trout (5th career)

For Mike Trout, it was business as usual on Thursday, as he won his fifth career Silver Slugger award — having done so in all of his full seasons in the big leagues. For the other five winners, they were all first-timers, as Charlie Blackmon, Christian Yelich, Yoenis Cespedes, Mark Trumbo and Mookie Betts each took home their first career hardware for their hitting.

FIRST BASE

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

NL Winner – Anthony Rizzo (1st career)

AL Winner – Miguel Cabrera (7th career)

Miguel Cabrera further increased his lead in regards to number of Silver Sluggers as a first baseman, winning his seventh in his Hall of Fame career. On the other side, World Champion Anthony Rizzo won his first Silver Slugger award for his career, but he very well could win several more before all is said and done.

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 – Daniel Murphy (1st career)

AL Winner – Jose Altuve (3rd career)

After the seasons that both Daniel Murphy and Jose Altuve had, it was no shock to see them win the Silver Slugger award. Murphy picks up his first, while Altuve takes home the honor for the third time in his career. Whether they can each keep up their amazing 2016 season into 2017 is yet to be seen, but more Silver Sluggers could be on the horizon for them.

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 (2nd career)

AL Winner – Josh Donaldson (2nd career)

Nolan Arenado is going to go down as one of the best all-around third basemen in history when all is said and done, further adding to his career resume with his second career Silver Slugger. Josh Donaldson also picks up his second award, doing so by having a year much like his MVP-winning season in 2015.

SHORTSTOP

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

NL Winner – Corey Seager (1st career)

AL Winner – Xander Bogaerts (2nd career)

The future appears to be bright at the shortstop position, as Corey Seager and Xander Bogaerts look to be the top players at those positions for quite some time to come. Although anything can happen in the future, them each winning many more Silver Slugger awards seems very likely.

CATCHER

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

NL Winner – Wilson Ramos (1st career)

AL Winner – Salvador Perez (1st career)

Both Wilson Ramos and Salvador Perez picked up their first career Silver Slugger awards, but each have had plenty of great seasons to this point in their careers. However, they took things to another level in 2016, making them each extremely deserving of the award win.

PITCHER

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

Winner – Jake Arrieta (1st career)

Pitchers are generally known as the worst hitting players on any given team’s roster, but there are a few of them who can actually swing the bat fairly well. One of those such players is Jake Arrieta, who can really put on a show at times throughout any given season, in addition to being one of the best pitchers in the game.

DESIGNATED HITTER

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

Winner – David Ortiz (7th career)

In his last season before retirement, David Ortiz had one of his best overall seasons of his career. At age forty, Ortiz posted numbers that would be considered amazing for someone even half his age. With him no longer going to be the designated hitter for the Red Sox, it’s fitting to see him go out with one final Silver Slugger win.

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2016 Gold Glove Awards

The 2016 Major League Baseball Gold Glove award winners were announced Tuesday night on ESPN. Given out each year to the players who are judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding Gold Gloveposition in both the National League and the American League, the award is voted on by the managers and coaches in each league (managers can not vote for their own players).

Marking the 60th annual Gold Glove Awards, which began back in 1957, there have been some terrific players to receive the honor. However, no other player has won more Gold Gloves in their career or in a row than Greg Maddux, who took home 18 total and 13 consecutively.

While Maddux’s records seem fairly safe for now, there were some winners for 2016 who could win quite a few Gold Gloves as the years go on. Here’s a recap of the winners, with my thoughts on each:

CATCHER

AL Nominees – James McCann, Carlos Perez and Salvador Perez

AL Winner – Salvador Perez (4th career)

NL Nominees – Jonathan Lucroy, Yadier Molina and Buster Posey

NL Winner – Buster Posey (1st career)

Salvador Perez picked up his fourth Gold Glove award, and rightfully so. His defense behind the plate has proved to be extremely valuable over the past several seasons, and he could easily win several more before his career is over. In the National League, despite Yadier Molina having won eight straight Gold Gloves, this year the award went to Buster Posey, who picked up his first ever Gold Glove.

PITCHER

AL Nominees R.A. Dickey, Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander

AL Winner – Dallas Keuchel (3rd career)

NL Nominees – Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke and Adam Wainwright

NL Winner – Zack Greinke (3rd career)

Pitchers aren’t generally known for being good fielders, but there are a number of them who can pick it. Dallas Keuchel and Zack Greinke each won their third career Gold Glove awards on Tuesday night, with each having proven their defensive worth in 2016. While they aren’t near Greg Maddux’s record number of Gold Gloves, they each are very deserving of the honor.

LEFT FIELDER

AL Nominees – Brett Gardner, Alex Gordon and Colby Rasmus

AL Winner – Brett Gardner (1st career)

NL Nominees – Adam Duvall, Starling Marte and Christian Yelich

NL Winner – Starling Marte (2nd career)

It came as a surprise to many that Brett Gardner was able to win his first career Gold Glove award, but his defense in left field for the Yankees was terrific this season and certainly worthy of the award. In the NL, Starling Marte truly broke out as one of the best left fielder in the game, taking home his second career Gold Glove award for the Pirates.

CENTER FIELDER

AL Nominees – Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Kiermaier and Kevin Pillar

AL Winner – Kevin Kiermaier (2nd career)

NL Nominees – Billy Hamilton, Odubel Herrera and Ender Inciarte

NL Winner – Ender Inciarte (1st career)

Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Kiermaier and Kevin Pillar were all absolutely amazing this season for their respective teams, making great plays night after night. But in the end, Kiermaier ended up winning the Gold Glove. Picking up the award for the opposite league was Ender Inciarte, who went from a somewhat unknown to a breakout player defensively in 2016.

RIGHT FIELDER

AL Nominees – Mookie Betts, Adam Eaton and George Springer

AL Winner – Mookie Betts (1st career)

NL Nominees – Carlos Gonzalez, Jason Heyward and Nick Markakis

NL Winner – Jason Heyward (4th career)

Despite his teammate, Jackie Bradley Jr., not winning the Gold Glove for center field, Mookie Betts was able to win his first career G.G. award for his play in right field. Also getting the award was Jason Heyward, who had a down year offensively, despite his huge offseason contract, but continued to dazzle with his glove, catching nearly every ball hit his way this season.

FIRST BASE

AL Nominees – Chris Davis, Eric Hosmer and Mitch Moreland

AL Winner – Mitch Moreland (1st career)

NL Nominees – Paul Goldschmidt, Wil Myers and Anthony Rizzo

NL Winner – Anthony Rizzo (1st career)

Both Mitch Moreland and Anthony Rizzo picked up their first career Gold Glove awards on Tuesday night, and both were very deserving. Although known more for their offense more that their defense, they each can pick it at first, and make key plays for their teams throughout any given season. While both are unique players, they each share the honor of winning a Gold Glove.

SECOND BASE

AL Nominees Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia

AL Winner – Ian Kinsler (1st career)

NL Nominees – DJ LeMahieu, Joe Panik and Jean Segura

NL Winner – Joe Panik (1st career)

Although nothing beats watching Robinson Cano make a smooth play each night at second base for the Mariners, seeing Ian Kinsler make the great plays he does each season is a close second. Picking up the first Gold Glove of his career, Kinsler will look to maintain his defense into 2017. Joe Panik also wins his first Gold Glove award of his career, also making him a big player to watch moving forward.

SHORTSTOP

AL Nominees – Jose Iglesias, Francisco Lindor and Andrelton Simmons

AL Winner – Francisco Lindor (1st career)

NL Nominees – Brandon Crawford, Freddy Galvis and Addison Russell

NL Winner – Brandon Crawford (2nd career)

Francisco Lindor truly emerged onto the scene in 2016, becoming a household name and subsequently winning the first Gold Glove award of his career, and the first for an Indians shortstop since Omar Vizquel in 2001. Over in the National League, Brandon Crawford wins his second straight Gold Glove and has cemented himself as one of the best in baseball.

THIRD BASE

AL Nominees – Adrian Beltre, Manny Machado and Kyle Seager

AL Winner – Adrian Beltre (5th career)

NL Nominees – Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon and Justin Turner

NL Winner – Nolan Arenado (4th career)

The future Hall of Famer, Adrian Beltre, was able to win his fifth career Gold Glove award for his great performance all season long at the hot-corner in Texas. But the player who may turn out to be one of the top few third basemen defensively of all-time when all is said and done is Nolan Arenado. With the great plays Arenado makes each day, it’s no surprise to see him win the award for the fourth time in his career.

First for Cubs: World Series or All-Star Game?

It was reported recently that Wrigley Field will be the site of the Major League Baseball All-Star game sometime in the very near future. Logic would point to them being the hosts in 2019, after the All-Star game has been on display in San Diego this season, Miami in 2017 and Washington D.C. two years down the road. However, no official announcement has been made as to the exact year the midsummer classic will be held up in Chicago.Cubs

The last time the Cubs hosted the All-Star game was back in 1990, with standout players such as Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey Jr. and Rickey Henderson, among many others, leading the American League to a 2-0 win over the National League. With such a long drought, it would seem only right that the Cubs receive another All-Star game.

Even so, as everyone around the baseball world knows, it’s not the 26-year All-Star game drought that the Cubs are famous for; it’s their 71-year World Series appearance drought (108 years since their last World Series title). But despite the fact that the Titanic sinking is more recent history than the last World Series Championship for the Cubs, there are many people who believe that 2016 could finally (this time for sure) be the Cubs’ year.

Currently possessing an unbelievable roster — even better than the one that took them to the postseason in 2015 — the Cubs appear to be in good shape headed into this year. They added veteran John Lackey this offseason to their already good rotation of Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. Combine that with the pickup of Jason Heyward to man the outfield, and young stars Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo looking to build on great 2015 campaigns, the Cubs are definitely a team to watch closely this coming season.

With all of their talent, however, comes the question of which is more probable to come first: a World Series Championship for the Cubs or an All-Star game at Wrigley Field?

Given that Chicago (as previously stated) won’t be able to host the All-Star game until at least 2019, the Cubs have three full seasons to realize the dream that has been used as a trivia question for decades. But just getting to the Fall Classic is extremely difficult, as has been proven in the past, so your guess for which comes first is just as good as mine.

Despite all of that, I have to find myself believing in the Cubs and their chances of finally winning the World Series in the next three seasons. Sure, some of that belief may just be me as a baseball fan hoping for the Cubs to break their century-long World Series drought, but I honestly think they have a group of guys that can pull it off. Only time will tell if they win a title before they once again host an All-Star game, but after 108 years of disappointment, why can’t 2016 (or 2017 . . . or 2018) be their year?

Excitement Building With First Place Races

From one year to the next, you never truly know what to expect in any given division race around baseball. Sometimes one team will completely blow away the rest of the teams in their division and run away with the first place spot, while other cases see multiple teams within a few games of each other down to the last game of the season. This year is more of the latter.

Of the six divisions, four of them have the second place team within three games of the first place squad (the Royals and Cardinals lead their divisions by a good margin). Furthermore, some of the teams closing in on first — or in some cases leading the division — haven’t been doing so well in quite a long time. Astros

The biggest example of that being the Astros and Mets. Each are leading their given divisions at the current moment, and each are making their push towards the playoffs years earlier than many people thought they would.

With the Angels a mere one game back of the Astros and the Nationals a game and a half removed from the Mets, the remaining games of the season should be exciting as we find out which teams can hold on to their hot seasons.

Although not in first place (at least not yet), the Blue Jays are another team that is making things very interesting in the race for first place. The Yankees, somewhat surprisingly, lead the American League East at the moment, but the surging Jays are right on their tail, at just one and a half games back. With the lineup they have, Toronto has the ability to overthrow the Yankees as the season progresses.

The Dodgers are also in the mix as far as exciting division races are concerned, despite still holding a two and a half game lead over the Giants for first. Even so, the Dodgers have been in somewhat of a slump lately (as have the Giants) and things could quickly switch around in the NL West.

No matter what happens over the coming several weeks as teams push towards October, the fact that so many teams that weren’t expected to make the playoffs in 2015 are currently on their way to doing just that is exciting. If the season ended today, the Yankees, Royals, Astros, Blue Jays, Angels, Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers, Pirates and Cubs would all be headed to the postseason.

With the Astros not having made the playoffs since 2005, the Mets since 2006, Cubs since 2008 and the Blue Jays since way back in 1993, this could turn out to be the season a lot of droughts could be broken for a lot of teams. That’s worth looking forward to.