Home runs were a dominant theme of the 2017 season, with the long-ball exploits of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge among the season's lastimg storylines. So it's no surprise that the emphasis on the annual Silver Slugger Awards should be on the word "slugger," with Stanton and Judge among the honorees.
Presented annually by Louisville Slugger with the winners announced Thursday night on MLB Network, the Silver Slugger Awards honor the top hitters at each position for each league in Major League Baseball, as voted by MLB managers and coaches, who could not vote for someone on their team.
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Stanton, whose 59 homers were the most in the Majors since 2001, won for a second time, while Judge -- who set a rookie record with 52 homers -- and teammate Gary Sanchez led a cast of eight first-time winners, with Judge the only rookie honoree.
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Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and Giants catcher Buster Posey won their fourth Silver Sluggers to lead those with multiple honors.
Stanton, who won his first honor in 2014, put on the biggest power show seen in more than a decade. He gave the vaunted total of 60 a good run, finishing one shy with the most recorded in a season since Barry Bonds' record 73 and Sammy Sosa's 64 in 2001. Stanton's 20-homer advantage over No. 2 Cody Bellinger was the largest gap in National League history, tied for the fifth largest in MLB history. In a summer surge, he homered 23 times in 35 games, including six straight, nine in a 10-game span and 16 in a 25-game span.
And Stanton did it with very few cheapies. According to Statcast™, he led the Majors with 30 homers of more than 420 feet, and with 10 homers of more than 450 feet. Stanton parlayed those homers into an MLB-leading 132 RBIs, while also setting career highs with 32 doubles, an NL-leading .631 slugging percentage and a 1.007 OPS.
Over in the American League, a slugging legend was quickly in the making in the Bronx, where Judge burst on the scene with a rookie-record 52 home runs to help lead the Yankees to the postseason. The 6-foot-7 strongman also led the league with 128 runs scored and 127 walks, along with an MLB-leading 208 strikeouts. From a Statcast™ perspective, Judge set the single-season record with 87 barrels and had the longest home run of the year, a 495-foot shot on June 11 at Yankee Stadium.
Sanchez, at 24 actually a year younger than AL Rookie of the Year Award favorite Judge, had himself an all-time season for a catcher himself. His 33 homers set a club record for a primary catcher, surpassing the 30 hit by Yogi Berra twice and Jorge Posada in 2003. Sanchezled all MLB catchers in homers, runs (79), RBIs (90) and slugging percentage (.531). He had the second-longest homer of the year with one hit 493 feet on Aug. 22.
Whether it was the long ball or a consistent stroke that kept churning out the hits, the list of Silver Slugger winners for 2017 exhibits the very best of a season that was among the most powerful ever seen.
Altuve, whose four straight Silver Sluggers coincide with his four straight 200-hit seasons, is a leading AL Most Valuable Player Award candidate after leading the AL with a .346 average and 204 hits. The 5-foot-6 wonder didn't lead the charge to the postseason alone, however, as the first Silver Slugger won by outfielder George Springer helps attest. Springer delivered from the top of the lineup that led all of baseball with 896 runs scored, hitting all 34 of his homers as a leadoff man and whacking nine leadoff homers. He set career highs in homers, RBIs (85), average (.283), slugging percentage (.522) and OPS (.889).
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Rounding out the AL outfield, the Angels' Justin Upton picked up his third Silver Slugger overall, this one coming in a season he split between the Tigers and the Angels, still managing to become the first AL left fielder with 35 homers, 100 RBIs and 100 runs since 2009.
Joining Altuve in the AL infield, four-time Gold Glove winner Eric Hosmer of the Royals is among the first-time Silver Slugger honorees. He finished in the AL top 10 in average (.318), hits (192), on-base percentage (.385), runs (98) and multi-hit games (53). The left side of the AL infield comes from the Indians with shortstop Francisco Lindor and third baseman Jose Ramirez both earning their first silver. Lindor led all Major League shortstops with 44 doubles, 33 homers and 89 RBIs, and Ramirez made himself into an AL MVP Award finalist with 91 extra-base hits, the second-most ever by an MLB switch-hitter, and a Major League-leading 56 doubles.
Nelson Cruz won his first Silver Slugger as designated hitter, and second overall, leading the AL with 119 RBIs and smacking 39 home runs to set a Seattle season record for DHs.
That AL roster means Jose Cabrera of the Tigers, a seven-time winner, and Michael Trout of the Angels, who had won a Silver Slugger each of his first five seasons, are not among this year's honorees.
In the NL, Nolan Arenado of the Rockies won his third straight award and was joined among the honorees for the second straight year by center fielder and leadoff man Charlie Blackmon. With his third straight award, Arenado joins Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt as the only NL third basemen to win the award that many times in a row. Arenado notched his third straight season with 130-plus RBIs, the first third baseman in MLB history to do so, and cracked 37 homers. His "Nazty" teammate had a remarkable season of his own, Blackmon winning the NL batting title at .331 and finishing with 104 RBIs, an MLB record for a leadoff hitter.
The outfield is rounded out by the Marcell Ozuna, whose first honor means all three Marlins outfielders have won the award in the past two years, joining Stanton this year and Christian Yelich last year. Ozuna set career highs in hits (191), doubles (30), home runs (37), RBIs (124), walks (64) and average (.312).
The NL squad also features Posey, a four-time honoree who had a .400 on-base percentage and .861 OPS, and Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, a first-time winner after going for a .262 average, two homers and 11 RBIs in 2017.
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Here is the entire list of 2017 Silver Slugger Award winners:
Catcher: Gary Sanchez (Yankees)
First base: Eric Hosmer (Royals)
Second base: Jose Altuve (Astros)
Third base: Jose Ramirez (Indians)
Shortstop: Francisco Lindor (Indians)
Outfield: Aaron Judge (Yankees)
Outfield: Justin Upton (Angels)
Outfield: George Springer (Astros)
Designated hitter: Nelson Cruz (Mariners)
Catcher: Buster Posey (Giants)
First base: Paul Goldschmidt (D-backs)
Second base: Daniel Murphy (Nationals)
Third base: Nolan Arenado (Rockies)
Shortstop: Corey Seager (Dodgers)
Outfield: Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins)
Outfield: Marcell Ozuna (Marlins)
Outfield: Charlie Blackmon (Rockies)
Pitcher: Adam Wainwright (Cardinals)
The first week of awards season concludes Friday with the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year honors announced at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network. Next week, a four-day run of Baseball Writers' Association of America awards will reveal winners from each league for Rookie of the Year on Monday, Manager of the Year on Tuesday, Cy Young Award on Wednesday and Most Valuable Player on Thursday.
All four one-hour specials for the BBWAA awards will begin at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network.
Awards season will culminate with the Esurance MLB Awards at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 17, on MLB Network, covering all the bases with awards acknowledging baseball's best on and off the field in 2017.