Coming off a season in which all 30 Major League Baseball teams set a new record with 6,105 home runs, the best hitters in the sport were rewarded Thursday with the release of the 2017 Silver Slugger Awards.
First given out in 1980, the Silver Slugger Awards are voted on by managers and coaches around MLB. They judge players by using multiple criteria, including each of the three main slash-line categories (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage).
Not surprisingly, Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins headlined the winners list in the National League, and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees did so in the American League.
American League Silver Slugger Winners
Catcher: Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
First Base: Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals
Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Third Base: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
Shortstop: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
Outfield: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
Outfield: George Springer, Houston Astros
Outfield: Justin Upton, Detroit Tigers/Los Angeles Angels
Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners
National League Silver Slugger Winners
Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
First Base: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Second Base: Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals
Third Base: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
Shortstop: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
Outfield: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Outfield: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
Outfield: Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins
Pitcher: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
This has been a good week for Stanton and Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. They were named outstanding player in their respective leagues during the Players' Choice Awards on Wednesday and have a Silver Slugger Award to put next to it on their rapidly expanding mantels.
Stanton finished one home run shy of becoming the sixth player in MLB history to hit 60 in a single season, but the Marlins All-Star still had one of the best power campaigns in recent memory.
The NL MVP finalist hit 23 of his 59 home runs in a 36-game span from July 17 through Aug. 25. But that was just part of an incredible hitting and power streak Stanton was on, per Ryan M. Spaeder of Sporting News:
In a normal year, Stanton's production would have stood far above everyone else in MLB. There was little that was normal about 2017, though. He was part of an outstanding outfield in Miami with Christian Yelich, who won a Silver Slugger last year, and Marcell Ozuna.
Ozuna joined Stanton among the winners this year thanks to a breakout season. The Dominican Republic native unlocked his potential with 37 home runs and a .312/.376/.548 slash line.
Per MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, the Marlins made franchise history with two Silver Slugger winners:
Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who is challenging Stanton for NL MVP, won his third Silver Slugger in the last five seasons in part by mastering the launch angle off his bat, per Statcast:
Judge set a new MLB rookie record with 52 home runs during the regular season. He was more than just his power, though, as he posted a .422 on-base percentage and scored a league-leading 128 runs.
Per Hot Stove Stats, Judge's first full season compares favorably to one of Alex Rodriguez's MVP campaigns:
In terms of pure power, as brilliant as Stanton's season was, it's hard to argue any MLB player was more impressive in that department than Judge:
Judge could be the first Yankees player to win an AL MVP award since Rodriguez in 2007. He can be the first rookie to win the honor since Ichiro Suzuki pulled off the feat for the Seattle Mariners in 2001.
Altuve is Judge's main competition for the award, with Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez also a finalist. Altuve has now won four straight Silver Slugger Awards after setting career highs with a .346 batting average, .410 on-base percentage and .547 slugging percentage in 2017.
The MLB players already gave Altuve one big prize this week:
Teammate George Springer joined Altuve on the Silver Slugger winner's list. Springer set the table as the leadoff hitter for the potent Astros lineup that led MLB with 896 runs scored. He was responsible for 197 of those runs when you combine his RBI (85) and runs scored (112) totals.
Other first-time Silver-Slugger winners besides Judge and Springer include Ramirez, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, Ozuna and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright.
Sanchez was Judge's partner in that exciting Yankees lineup. The All-Star catcher hit 33 home runs in just 122 games after hitting 20 in 53 contests as a rookie in 2016.
Lindor was never regarded as a power hitter when he was coming through the minors. His career high in homers as a prospect was 11 in 2014, but he tripled that total in 2017 and showed unexpected pop across the board:
The other member of the left side of Cleveland's infield, Ramirez, followed his breakout 2016 season with an even better 2017 to take home the Silver Slugger Award at third base in the AL. He led the league with 56 doubles, hit 29 home runs and posted a .318/.374/.583 slash line in 585 at-bats.
Even though the list of Silver Slugger winners is populated by big-name veterans such as Posey and Altuve, MLB is in excellent hands with its crop of young superstars.
Judge, Ramirez, Sanchez, Lindor and Corey Seager are all 25 years of age or under. They will be a big part of MLB's award scene for a long time.