Awards Season Preview Part Three: Silver Sluggers

As we all know, there are other awards aside from the Cy Young and MVP. The ones I’ll touch on next are the Silver Slugger, Comeback Player of the Year, Manager of the Year, and the hopelessly useless Gold Glove.

First up is the Silver Slugger. Honestly, it’s hard to think of a Yankee who couldn’t be up for this award. The Yankees have gotten contributions from up and down the lineup at every position.

Let’s start at catcher. Jorge Posada is having another great season at the plate. He’s on pace to put up his fourth .900+ OPS season (’00, ‘03, ‘07). His .384 wOBA is second among AL catchers to you know who. He’s hit 22 homers and driven in 81 to this point. All in all, it’s been a fine offensive season and Jorge should be proud. However, nothing can compete with The Joe Mauer. He’s the MVP, he’s the Silver Slugger at catcher, he’s dreamy (wait what?), he’s the whole package.

Shifting to first base, we have Mark Teixeira. I detailed his offensive season here so take a look again if you want. Anyway, I’d say Tex has a good shot at winning the Silver Slugger at first base, though the same goes for Miguel Cabrera and McWhiny Douchebeard. My prediction is that Tex will get it, but either of the other two candidates would be deserving. 2009 has seen a lot of good offense from a lot of good AL first baseman.

At second base, the main candidates are all from the American League East. There’s Ben Zobrist, A Rogaine-Needing-Master-of-Unnecessary-Diving Little Person, Aaron Hill, Brian Roberts, and, of course, Robinson Cano. Zobrist has played all over the field, but has 89 games at second base, the most at any position for him, so I’ll give him consideration. Ian Kinsler is also a darkhorse candidate, thanks to 30 steals, a .238 IsoP, and 31 home runs.

Zobrist and Cano are tied for the lead among AL 2B’s with a .525 slugging percentage, and Zobrist leads in Weighted Runs Created, Weighted Runs Above Average, and wOBA. Cano is second to him in all three of those categories.

Roberts gets a nod for another 50 double season, while Pedroia had another good all around season, despite falling power numbers. Aaron Hill leads the pack with 35 home runs, but a low on base percentage could hurt him.

If I had to pick what the voters will do, I’d say it’s going to be Cano. Zobrist has slightly better numbers, but he’s not as big a name and his versatility may actually hurt him in this award, since many may not remember him in his 89 games at second, but rather his 71 games in the outfield.

Third base is essentially a two man race between Evan Longoria and Alex Rodriguez. Alex’s season has been nothing short of brilliant. He’s blasted 28 home runs and driven in 93 despite not playing in a real game until May 8. However, missing that month may be what gives the Rays’ third baseman the nod for the award. His 32 home runs and 110 batted in are sure to draw the voters’ eyes. Rodriguez leads Longoria in wOBA and wRAA, though Longoria’s superior amount of playing time gives him the edge in wRC. This award might not even have been close if Longoria had not had a three month slump between June and August that saw him put up a line of .229/.332/.421/.742 with just 12 home runs. Longoria probably gets the nod because he played more, but I’m clearly rooting for A-Rod to pull the upset.

Shortstop is another two man race, with possibly a third coming into play. Again, each player comes from the AL East: Marco Scutaro , the dark horse candidate from the Jays, Jason Bartlett, who’s enjoying a career year with the bat, and the probable winner, Derek Jeter. Jeter’s numbers would be good enough to win him his first MVP this season, but Joe Mauer stands in his way. With a triple slash line of .333/.405/.461, a wOBA of .388, 119.3 wRC, 34.7 wRAA, and 30 stolen bases, Derek should, and most likely will, win the AL SS Silver Slugger.

The outfield is tricky since it’s not broken down by position. I’ll do that here, though, to see how Johnny Damon and Nick Swisher stack up against the rest of the league.

I would not expect Damon to get the nod for LF, considering there are other strong candidates. Despite a long lull in the middle of the season, Jason Bay has 36 homers and a .398 wOBA. If the Silver Slugger were broken down by position, LF would definitely go to Bay. Johnny and Carl Crawford would be tied for second place on my ballot.

Ben Zobrist once again shows up for the RF portion of the post, so let’s look at some of the other candidates fan favorite Nick Swisher would be contending with. Shin-Soo Choo of the Indians is quietly having a strong season, leading AL RFs in wRC with 113.5 and is second to Zobrist with a .390 wOBA. Choo also has 19 homers and 20 steals while being caught only twice. Ichiro Suzuki and his .351 BA is, as always, a strong candidate, but his lack of power could hurt him. The same goes for Bobby Abreu who’s had a nice season with the Angels, but I think the voters will look for more power. In the end, Ichrio will probably win because he’s the biggest name, but I’d vote for Choo. Swisher has had a great season; his .374 wOBA is in line to be the highest mark of his career as is his 22.1 wRAA.

The DH Silver Slugger is most likely going to be Toronto’s Adam Lind. Lind has had a great season, OPSing .932 while hitting 35 home runs en route to a .394 wOBA. Yankee DH Hideki Matsui would be my second place choice, as he is second to Lind in DH wOBA, wRC, wRAA, and OPS.

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