With awards season officially shifting into high gear, Major League Baseball handed out some hardware on Thursday night with the announcement of the American League and National League Silver Slugger award winners on MLB Network. The awards are given annually to the top offensive performer at each position in both leagues, as voted on by major-league managers and coaches (who are not permitted to cast ballots for players on their own teams). Louisville Slugger sponsors the awards, which began back in 1980.
Here is the complete list of this year’s winners and the number of times each player has won the award:
Catcher: Mitch Garver, Twins (1)
First Base: Carlos Santana, Indians (1)
Second Base: DJ LeMahieu, Yankees (1)
Third Base: Alex Bregman, Astros (1)
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox (3)
Outfield: Mike Trout, Angels (7)
Outfield: George Springer, Astros (2)
Outfield: Mookie Betts, Red Sox (3)
Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz, Twins (3)
Catcher: J.T. Realmuto, Phillies (2)
First Base: Freddie Freeman, Braves (1)
Second Base: Ozzie Albies, Braves (1)
Third Base: Anthony Rendon, Nationals (2)
Shortstop: Trevor Story, Rockies (2)
Outfield: Christian Yelich, Brewers (3)
Outfield: Cody Bellinger, Dodgers (1)
Outfield: Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves (1)
Pitcher: Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks/Astros (2)
We could literally spend hours arguing the case for countless offensive stalwarts who were unceremoniously snubbed. However, Mets’ rookie sensation Pete Alonso is the lone egregious omission that is worth highlighting. The 24-year-old first baseman crushed an eye-popping 53 dingers and recorded 120 RBI in 693 plate appearances, yet it was Freeman who took home the honor at the cold corner. There’s also an argument to be made for the inclusion of Juan Soto and Ketel Marte on the National League side. The same goes for Royals’ slugger Jorge Soler, who belted an American League-leading 48 round-trippers this year. Overall, there were eight first-time winners in 2019.
The clear headline from the junior circuit side of the ledger is Angels’ franchise icon Mike Trout, who took home his seventh Silver Slugger Award. The future Hall of Fame center fielder has received the honor in seven of the last eight seasons. He’s tied for third all-time among outfielders, trailing only Barry Bonds (12) and Manny Ramirez (eight), and only six players — Mike Piazza, Wade Boggs, Cal Ripken Jr., Barry Larkin, Bonds and Ramirez — have won more since the award began in 1980. He also joins Alex Rodriguez as the only players to win the award seven times by their age-27 season. The Astros, Red Sox and Twins led the American League with two award recipients each.
Meanwhile on the senior circuit, there were also four first-time winners, including three Braves’ hitters (Freeman, Albies and Acuña Jr.). According to David O’Brien of The Athletic, Albies and Acuña Jr. became the first teammates 22-years-old or younger in big-league history to garner Silver Slugger awards in the same season. He also noted that Acuña Jr. became the youngest position player (21-years-old) to win a Silver Slugger award since Albert Pujols back in 2001. Brewers’ catalyst Yelich took home the award for the third time in the last four seasons; joining both Realmuto and Story as the only National League recipients to repeat from last year.
Mookie On The Move?
One year ago, the Red Sox were celebrating a World Series title and superstar right fielder Mookie Betts had just captured his first-career American League MVP Award. The 27-year-old has captured both Gold Glove and Silver Slugger honors in three of the last four seasons and has posted a surreal .319/.413/.578 triple-slash line with 264 runs scored, 61 home runs, 160 RBI and 46 stolen bases in 286 games over the last two seasons. Yet, there’s a real possibility that he could be traded this offseason as the Red Sox appear intent on slashing payroll to get under the luxury tax threshold.
Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said Wednesday that the team has yet to engage in extension talks this offseason with Betts, who is eligible for arbitration for the final time in 2020 after earning $20 million in 2019. “I’m sure we’ll have conversations at the appropriate time,” said Kennedy. Unless both sides can work out a long-term contract extension, it’s within the realm of possibility that the Red Sox aren’t willing to risk letting him become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2020 campaign without getting anything back in return. New general manager Chaim Bloom will be tasked with making perhaps the most impactful decision for any franchise this offseason. Obviously, the Red Sox could simply elect to move some of the high-priced ancillary pieces on their roster to satisfy their self-imposed mandate to avoid paying the luxury tax, but that’s easier said than done. Clearly, this is a storyline worth monitoring closely this entire offseason.
American League Quick Hits: According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Yankees are hiring Matt Blake to fill their pitching coach vacancy … Mariners hired Pete Woodworth as their new pitching coach, replacing Paul Davis, who has been moved into a new job as chief pitching strategist for the organization … Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Thursday that the Yankees and free agent outfielder Brett Gardner “are already talking about trying to stay together contractually.” … Orioles GM Mike Elias said Thursday that the Orioles will have tough decisions at the non-tender deadline as they deal with their seven arbitration eligible players … Blue Jays CEO Mark Shapiro told Toronto's 590 The Fan on Thursday that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. “couldn't be pushing himself harder” in offseason workouts … Devon Travis has elected to become a free agent. Travis was outrighted off the Blue Jays' 40-man roster on Monday and rejected an assignment to Triple-A Buffalo … Tigers re-signed LHP Nick Ramirez, OF Jose Azocar, 1B Frank Schwindel, RHP Tim Adleman and RHP Anthony Castro to minor league contracts.
National League Quick Hits: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Thursday that Ben Cherington has emerged as a candidate to be the Pirates’ new head of baseball operations … Rosenthal also reported Thursday that Astros farm director Pete Putila is among the candidates for the Giants' general manager opening. Rosenthal has also previously reported that Cubs assistant GM Scott Harris is in the running as well and that Pirates assistant general manager Kevan Graves has "drawn consideration" for the role … According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants' managerial search is down to Gabe Kapler, Joe Espada, and Matt Quatraro … According to Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area, the Braves have made Madison Bumgarner "a priority" this offseason. The 30-year-old left-hander received one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer from the Giants earlier this week, but is fully expected to reject it and hit the open market … Cole Hamels told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki that he is open to signing a one-year deal this offseason … According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, free agent catcher Russell Martin is planning to play in 2020 … Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic reported Wednesday that free agent utilityman Howie Kendrick is drawing early interest from both the Rays and Marlins … According to multiple reports, Martin Prado is expected to retire from baseball this offseason.