Silver Slugger Winners Announced

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While the rumor mill is abuzz and the hot stove is rolling to a boil during this second week of November, Thursday included recognition of some of the fantastic offensive performances of the 2021 season. The winners of the Silver Slugger award in both leagues were announced; given out since 1980, the Silver Slugger recognizes the best offensive players at each position in each league, voted upon by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball.

Buster Posey captured his fifth – and final career Silver Slugger, well-earned as he rides off to the proverbial sunset known as retirement. Posey’s five silver sluggers are also the second-most in San Francisco Giants history, behind Barry Bonds, who won nine times. This was Posey’s first Silver Slugger since 2016; he led NL catchers in OPS (.889) and hit 23 doubles and 18 homers.

Four out of the nine winners from the National League were from the World Series Champion Braves: Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, and Max Fried were given the distinction. Riley and Fried were first-time winners. Fried may just be the last pitcher in history to win a Silver Slugger; it’ll match nicely with his ​​second straight Gold Glove Award and of course, his World Series ring.

Fernando Tatis Jr. won his second consecutive Silver Slugger award, and joins Tony Gwynn and Benito Santiago as Padres that have won the award multiple times. Despite missing some time due to a shoulder injury, Tatis led the National League with 42 home runs, accompanying .975 OPS, 25 stolen bases, and 97 RBI. Tatis is also a finalist for the National League MVP award.

Co-MVP finalist Juan Soto won his second straight Silver Slugger; the 23-year-old finished the year second in the National League in batting average (.313) and OPS (.999). Bryce Harper, who also won his second career Silver Slugger, was first in the National League in OPS (1.044), and is also in the running for NL MVP. Nick Castellanos gets a very well-deserved nod, as one of the top offensive outfielders alongside Harper and Soto. Castellanos hit a career-high 34 home runs and also posted career highs in batting average (.309), on-base percentage (.362), slugging percentage (.576), and finally, OPS (.939).

Shohei Ohtani garnered his first-ever Silver Slugger award; he’s the first Angel to win the award as a designated hitter. He’s the second Japanese-born player and 26th Angel in franchise history to win the award. Ohtani is also a finalist for the American League MVP award, in which the winner will be announced on November 18, in case you were wondering. The two-way sensation slashed .257/.372/.592 including 46 home runs, a major league-leading eight triples, and 100 RBIs. He also made 23 starts on the mound with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 130 1/3 innings pitched.

Salvador Perez earned his fourth Silver Slugger at catcher, passing Hall of Famer George Brett, and setting a Royals franchise record. Slugging 48 home runs, Perez set the single-season record for home runs by a primary catcher. Perez also led all of Major League Baseball in RBI, with 121.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. won his first Silver Slugger, and also became the youngest first baseman ever to do so. The 22-year-old tied Perez for the major league lead in home runs at 48, and was also the American League Hank Aaron award winner for his fantastic overall offensive performance. Guerrero led the American League in OBP (.401), Slugging (.601), and OPS (1.002). Marcus Semien is the next Blue Jay to win, the first Silver Slugger of his career as he heads into free agency. Semien hit 45 home runs — an MLB record for most home runs recorded in a single season by a second baseman. The Blue Jays led all AL clubs with three winners, including Teoscar Hernandez; the left fielder has now won a Silver Slugger in two consecutive seasons.

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Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts won their first Silver Sluggers respectively, at third base and shortstop. The left side of the Red Sox infield had impressive seasons, with Devers leading all qualifying third basemen in home runs (38), RBI (112), hits (161), runs scored (100), and OPS (.902). Bogaerts led all qualifying shortstops in on base percentage (.371) and OPS (.855).

Also winning for the first time is Cedric Mullins. The center fielder certainly was the best offensively for his position; Mullins was the only player to produce a 30-30 season in 2021, and was also the first Orioles 30-30 player, ever. Mullins posted an .878 OPS including those 30 home runs, and 30 stolen bases.

Aaron Judge won his second career Silver Slugger award in right field, posting a .916 OPS including 39 home runs, and 98 RBI. He also hit a career best .287 average. His first Silver Slugger was earned in 2017, his Rookie of the Year season, where he hit 52 homers and posted a 1.049 OPS.

Quick Hits

The Milwaukee Brewers have hired new hitting coaches Ozzie Timmons and Connor Dawson. … MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reports that Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds is drawing «significant interest» on the trade market. … According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Angels see free agent starter Marcus Stroman as a «potential fit.». … According to Tim Britton, Britt Ghiroli, and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Mets’ primary target for their head of baseball operations gig remains Brewers president David Stearns. … Michael Mayer of Metsmerized reports that Sam Mondry-Cohen is a candidate for a spot in the Mets’ front office…According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Mets and Phillies are among the «many teams» talking to free agent reliever Aaron Loup. …Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Angels met Thursday with the agent for reliever Raisel Iglesias. …Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said Thursday that Stephen Strasburg (neck, shoulder) is expected to be ready for spring training. …According to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, the Tigers are «showing early interest» in free agent starter Jon Gray. …Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Marlins recently met with Nick Castellanos‘ agent Scott Boras…Starling Marte is a free agent target of the Phillies, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network. …Mike Soroka (Achilles) is expected to be ready for live action around June or July of 2022. …According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Tigers are showing interest in free agent right-hander Anthony DeSclafani. …MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reports that the Blue Jays have checked in with the Marlins about the availability of their starting pitchers. … Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos said Thursday that it’s too early to know whether Ronald Acuña Jr. (knee) will be ready for the start of the 2022 season…Rays released LHP Adam Conley. … Tim Healey of Newsday reports that the Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, and Cardinals are among the teams pursuing free agent starter Steven Matz. … Cardinals signed OF Moises Gomez to a minor league contract. … Anirudh Kilambi has been hired as assistant general manager of the Phillies, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel. … Orioles re-signed RHP Spenser Watkins to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training…Ken Rosenthal, Evan Drellich and Eno Sarris of The Athletic report that Major League Baseball proposed to the MLBPA on Wednesday that a player’s salary prior to free agency be determined by Fangraphs’ fWAR rather than arbitration. … David Bote will need six months of recovery time from his recent left shoulder surgery. … Brailyn Marquez (shoulder) is on a throwing program and is expected to be ready for the start of spring training. … Alfonso Rivas (finger) is expected to complete his rehab in early December and go through his normal offseason program. … Jason Heyward (concussion) is symptom-free and expected to have a normal offseason…Brad Wieck (heart) has been cleared for all activities.