Top boppers earn Silver Slugger Awards
McCann, Ortiz snag fifth trophies; nine hitters win for first time
The postseason honor roll expanded on Wednesday, when the American League and National League distributed Silver Slugger Awards to the best offensive players at each position. Nine players received the honor for the first time, and only six players were repeat winners from last year.The Silver Slugger, which was first awarded in 1980, is voted on by coaches and managers from both leagues, and voters are prohibited from rewarding players on their own team. There were only five repeat winners last season, which tied for the low in the history of the award. Both leagues had three players qualify as a repeat winner this year, and two players continued streaks that saw them win the Silver Slugger for the fourth straight season. Two players -- one from each league -- have won the Silver Slugger at their respective position five times. Atlanta catcher Brian McCann has emerged as the dean of NL Silver Sluggers, as he won for the fourth straight time and the fifth time in his seven-year career. The 27-year-old, who tied a career high with 24 home runs, has won the Silver Slugger in all but one of his years as a full-time starter. McCann was joined on the other side by designated hitter David Ortiz, who won the Silver Slugger for the fifth time, but it was his first since 2007. Ortiz batted .309 -- his best average since hitting .332 in '07 -- and he delivered 29 home runs and 96 RBIs for Boston, the highest-scoring team in the league.
Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun -- who has recorded at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs for four straight years -- won a Silver Slugger for the fourth straight season. Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who won for the second straight time, was the only other repeat winner in the NL. Tulowitzki had to fend off a special season from Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, who won the batting title."You never run out of shelf space," said Braun. "It's always a tremendous honor. Incredible to be recognized for something like this at the end of the year and something I'm really proud of, for sure." Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista led the Majors in home runs for the second straight season, and he fittingly received his second consecutive Silver Slugger. Other repeat winners include Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre. Beltre, along with ex-teammate Jacoby Ellsbury, was one of two AL players who won both the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove. Three NL players -- Tulowitzki, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp -- pulled off that accomplishment. "I feel like 2011 was probably my best all-around year. I won the Gold Glove, the Silver Slugger and [made] the All-Star team," said Phillips, who had previously hoped to win the Silver Slugger in 2007. "I really thought this day would never happen. I'm very happy. A lot of hard work really paid off." Perhaps the most gratifying win came for Adrian Gonzalez, who made a highly publicized switch from the NL to the AL before the season. Gonzalez, who had been blocked by Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder in the NL, moved to Boston and led the league in hits en route to his first Silver Slugger. Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera came into the season with 18 career home runs, but he knocked 25 this year to set a new career high and win his first Silver Slugger. Detroit catcher Alex Avila, just 24 years old, hit 19 homers and was the youngest of the AL Silver Sluggers. Ellsbury, who won the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award after playing in just 18 games in 2010, drilled 32 homers and knocked in 105 RBIs. The AL Silver Slugger squad was rounded out by Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson, who led the league in runs (136) and RBIs (119). Kemp, considered by many to be a favorite for the NL's Most Valuable Player trophy, earned his second Silver Slugger after leading the league in runs (115), home runs (39) and RBIs (126). Kemp, who turned 27 in September, won his first Silver Slugger in 2009. Two NL teams -- Milwaukee and Arizona -- had at least two Silver Slugger Award winners. Braun was joined by Fielder, who finished second in the league in walks (107), RBIs (120) and on-base percentage (.415). Arizona was represented by outfielder Justin Upton and by pitcher Daniel Hudson, who batted .277 and paced the league's pitchers with 14 RBIs. "This is awesome to be considered in that group of guys that have received this award this year and in the past," said Upton. "It's fun to see myself with those guys and I really appreciate the award." Phillips, a two-time All-Star who has hit at least 18 home runs in five straight seasons, was rewarded with his first career Silver Slugger. Chicago third baseman Aramis Ramirez batted .306 and hit 26 home runs this season to win his first Silver Slugger. Washington's Ryan Zimmerman and New York's David Wright had combined to take the last four straight Silver Sluggers at third base.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.