MLB Silver Sluggers 2011: 5 Players Who Got Snubbed
Wednesday evening, Major League Baseball announced the 2011 Silver Sluggers, which are awarded to the top offensive player at each position (check out the list here).
The coaches and managers who voted mainly selected the appropriate candidates, but there are five players who could feel snubbed.
For the fourth straight season, coaches and managers handed Brian McCann the NL Silver Slugger at catcher. McCann had a very respectable 2011 campaign, hitting .270 with 24 home runs and 71 RBI, but he was only the second-best hitter at his position.
Miguel Montero hit .282 with 18 home runs and 86 RBI for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
If you look beyond the three most traditional offensive statistics, Montero also out-slugged McCann by three points despite hitting six fewer jacks. He accomplished this by hitting 36 doubles while McCann hit 19.
You could even make a case—a pretty strong one, too—for Yadier Molina, who hit .305 with 14 long balls, 65 RBI and 32 doubles. His average is 23 points above Montero's, and although his home run total is the lowest of the three, Molina's .465 slugging percentage ranks just one point behind McCann's.
Perhaps the coaches and managers have grown so accustomed to granting McCann the Silver Slugger that they inadvertently skipped over Montero's name on the ballot. After all, this was Montero's first All-Star season.
Adrian Gonzalez is a tremendous hitter who benefited from a change in scenery.
Playing five years in San Diego, Gonzalez's average eclipsed .300 once—he hit .304 in 2006. In his first season playing in Fenway Park, the first baseman's average soared to .338.
Gonzalez has a tailor-made swing for Fenway Park. He's a lefty who uses all fields, but he is especially adept at stroking pitches to the opposite field, which, at Fenway, boasts the Green Monster.
Gonzalez hit .347 at home and .329 on the road, proving he can hit anywhere, but also that he benefited from the shallow left field wall at Fenway.
In addition to his batting average, Gonzalez blasted 27 home runs and 45 doubles and drove in 117 RBI.
Miguel Cabrera posted even better numbers across the board—with the exception of RBI—while playing half his games in the massive Comerica Park. The 28-year-old slugger belted 30 home runs and 48 doubles and drove in 105 RBI.
And, by the way, he led MLB with a .344 batting average.
If you're a proponent of the Gonzalez selection, you point to the RBI total. However, Gonzalez had 31 more at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Even more impressive, Cabrera capitalized in those situations, hitting .388. Gonzalez hit .337.
Additionally, Cabrera posted a higher on-base percentage (.448 to .410) and slugging percentage (.586 to .548).
Obviously Lance Berkman shouldn't replace Ryan Braun or Matt Kemp, but what about Justin Upton?
Upton had a very solid season. The 24-year-old hit .289 with 31 homers, 39 doubles and 88 RBI.
However, with the exception of doubles, Berkman topped or tied Upton in every category. Big Puma hit .301 with 31 homers and 94 RBI.
In addition, he displayed a more responsible eye at the plate, walking 92 times to Upton's 59 and fanning 93 times to Upton's 126. The difference resulted in Berkman having a .412 OBP, while Upton's resided at .369.
Despite hitting fewer doubles, Berkman slugged .547. Upton posted a .529 percentage.
Hunter Pence is a more acceptable omission than Lance Berkman, but you can still make a case for him over Justin Upton.
Pence hit 22 home runs, nine fewer than Upton's 31, but also batted .314 and drove in 97 runs.
Pence and Upton posted nearly identical walk and strikeout totals and on-base percentages, but Upton edged Pence in slugging at .529 to .502.
Upton's probably the better choice, but there's certainly a case for Pence.
Jose Reyes led the NL with a .337 batting average and 16 triples.
Troy Tulowitzki, who won the Silver Slugger, hit .302 and led NL shortstops with 30 home runs.
Yes, Tulo hits for average and power—you can also reference his .544 slugging percentage to Reyes' .493—but Reyes was even more of a nightmare for pitchers because he could turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples.
While Tulowitzki's 79 strikeouts are respectable, Reyes only fanned 41 times, which is remarkable.
The voters definitely couldn't choose wrong, but if Jose Reyes feels snubbed, you can't blame him.