In recognition of the ever-increasing versatility of players across MLB, Louisville Slugger announced Wednesday that its annual Silver Slugger Award will have a new category for utility players, beginning this year.
"Adding Silver Sluggers for utility players has been something we’ve considered for some time,” Louisville Slugger marketing manager Jake Misener said. “There are players in both leagues who are tremendous offensive players but play multiple positions and have lost votes, and likely missed out on the honor, because of their versatility. Utility players have become a very important part of the game, so it’s time we give those guys their due.”
Silver Slugger Awards were first given in 1980 to recognize the best offensive player at each position in each league. In the COVID-19-shortened 2020 campaign, which introduced the designated hitter to the National League in non-Interleague games for the first time, a Silver Slugger honor was awarded to a DH in the Senior Circuit, Marcell Ozuna. That award becomes permanent this year after MLB implemented the DH in the NL.
Utility players have heretofore been at somewhat of a disadvantage because they appear at many different positions on the field, leading to more difficult decisions for those who vote on Silver Slugger Awards -- opposing managers and coaches in each league. Voters consider a combination of offensive statistics, including batting average, home runs, RBIs and OPS, as well as their general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value.
This year's Silver Slugger Award winners will be announced during a special hour-long telecast on MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET on Nov. 10.