6 NL first-timers among Silver Slugger honorees
The list of 2018 American League and National League Silver Slugger Award winners announced on Thursday night on MLB Network includes quite a few past recipients of the offense-based honor. Most notably, Michael Trout won for the sixth time, Jose Altuve for the fifth, and Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado for the fourth apiece.
But the list also includes the first two-time winner … within the same season. J.D. Martinez's selection as both a designated hitter and an outfielder makes him the first player in the 39-year history of the award, which is presented annually by Louisville Slugger, to win two Silver Sluggers in the same year.
• All-time Silver Slugger Award winners
MLB managers and coaches fill in their blank Silver Slugger ballots at the conclusion of the regular season and are not allowed to vote for players on their own team. It's not unusual for players to receive votes at multiple positions, though that usually works to the detriment of a player's chances of winning. Martinez's exceptional year, in which he spent 62 percent of his time at DH and the other 38 in the corner outfield for the World Series champion Red Sox, created an exception all its own.
Here is the full list of winners for 2018:
AL winner: Salvador Perez, Royals (second Silver Slugger Award)
Perez, who also won a Silver Slugger in 2016, was the only AL catcher to notch enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, and he repeated the career highs he set in 2017 with 27 homers and 80 RBIs. The Indians' Yan Gomes led AL catchers in OPS (.762) but in 107 fewer at-bats than Perez (.713 OPS).
NL winner: J.T. Realmuto, Marlins (first)
A much-discussed trade candidate of late, Realmuto led all qualifying catchers with his career-best .825 OPS while hitting 21 homers, 30 doubles and three triples.
AL winner: Jose Abreu, White Sox (second)
In a down year for productivity for AL first basemen, Abreu recaptured the award he last won in his rookie season of 2014. He had a .265/.325/.473 slash with 22 homers, 36 doubles and 78 RBIs.
NL winner: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs (fourth)
A four-time Silver Slugger, Goldschmidt took an un-Goldschmidt-like .198 batting average into play on May 23 but wound up with a very-Goldschmidt-like .290/.389/.533 slash with 33 homers, 35 doubles and five triples by season's end. His .922 OPS was 25 points higher than any other qualifying first baseman in the Majors.
AL winner: Jose Altuve, Astros (fifth)
Beset by injury, Altuve endured a significant step down from his 2017 MVP numbers but will take home hardware anyway. He led all full-time AL second basemen in batting average (.316) and OPS (.837).
NL winner: Javier Baez, Cubs (first)
Baez had the potential to invite the same positional vote split as Martinez because he made 75 starts at second and 52 at short (with another 18 at third). Wherever he played, he was one of the most productive players in the league, with an RBI total (111) that trailed only that of Martinez and the A's Khris Davis. Additionally, his .290 average, .326 on-base percentage, .554 slugging percentage, 34 homers, 40 doubles, nine triples and 21 steals were all career bests.
AL winner: Francisco Lindor, Indians (second)
Lindor continued to assert himself in a field of electric AL shortstops with his second Silver Slugger Award in as many seasons. He tied for the Major League lead in runs (129) and became the first shortstop in MLB history with at least 35 homers (he hit 38), 40 doubles (he hit 42) and 20 stolen bases (he swiped 25) in a single season.
NL winner: Trevor Story, Rockies (first)
Story made shortstop history of his own. With 37 homers, 42 doubles and 27 steals (all career bests), he became the first shortstop with a 40-double, 30-homer, 25-steal season. He drove in 108 runs, and his .914 OPS was the best of any qualified shortstop in the bigs.
AL winner: Jose Ramirez, Indians (second)
Ramirez leads all MLB players in extra-base hits over the last two seasons (172) and, appropriately, has been named a Silver Slugger winner both years. He finished fourth among all AL players in slugging (.552), OPS (.939), RBIs (105), runs (110), total bases (319) and homers (39). He and Lindor are the first Indians teammates to win back-to-back Silver Sluggers since Roberto Alomar and Manny Ramirez in 1999-2000.
NL winner: Nolan Arenado, Rockies (fourth)
If Arenado were only busy collecting his six straight Gold Gloves, he'd be an impactful player. But he's mixed in four straight Silver Slugger seasons, too. For the third time in the last four years, he led the NL in homers (38), and his .935 OPS and 111 RBIs were the best among NL third basemen.
AL winners: Mookie Betts, Red Sox (second); Mike Trout, Angels (sixth); J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (second, third)
Aaron Judge's second-half wrist injury opened the door for Martinez, who had 219 at-bats as an outfielder vs. 350 as a DH, to command a higher vote tally here. Martinez previously won a Silver Slugger with the Tigers in 2015 (as an outfielder). His overall numbers were what earned him his votes in 2018, but it's worth noting that his numbers as an outfielder (.384/.450/.680 slash) were actually even better than his numbers as a DH (.297/.373/.597).
Martinez is not the first player to receive votes at multiple positions in the same season. In fact, it happened a few times this year. Ramirez got votes at second base and third base in AL, while Baez got votes at second base at shortstop in the NL. They ended up winning at third and second, respectively. Meanwhile, Oakland's Davis got votes in the outfield and at DH in the AL but didn't win at either spot.
Betts and Trout, meanwhile, were no-brainers.
Trout, who has now collected a Silver Slugger in six of the seven seasons in which he's qualified for the batting title, led all qualified hitters in the Majors in OPS (1.088), and Betts was second (1.078). Trout's OPS and OPS+ (199) were both the best of his Cooperstown-worthy career.
Betts' .346 average was the best in the Majors by 16 points, and he tied Lindor for the Major League lead in runs (129). Betts, who also won a Silver Slugger in 2016, joined Ramirez in becoming baseball's first 30-homer, 30-steal players since 2012.
NL winners: Christian Yelich, Brewers (second); David Peralta, D-backs (first); Nick Markakis, Braves (first)
Yelich already won the NL Hank Aaron Award and now adds his second Silver Slugger. Yelich led the NL in average (.326), slugging (.598), OPS (1.000) and total bases (343), hit for the cycle against the Reds twice (becoming the first to do so against the same team), and finished two homers and one RBI shy of the first NL Triple Crown in 81 years.
So he was an easy selection, whereas Peralta and Markakis (both first-time winners) had a lot of competition for this honor.
Peralta hit a career-high 30 homers, and his .868 OPS ranked fourth among NL qualifiers in the outfield.
Markakis had a power surge in his age-34 season, with his highest slugging (.440) and homer total (14) since 2012 and his highest doubles total (43) since 2010.
AL winner: J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (second, third)
As noted, Martinez saw the bulk of his playing time here (93 of his 150 games). Overall, he led the Majors in RBIs (130) and total bases (358) while finishing second in homers (43). His .330 average was nearly 40 points higher than his career norm, and his .402 OBP was nearly 50 points higher.
NL winner: German Marquez, Rockies (first)
Pitchers are obviously graded on a steep curve here. In a year in which pitchers, as a whole, posted an ugly slash line, Marquez hit .300/.300/.350 in 65 plate appearances (his .650 OPS was the highest of any pitcher with at least 35 plate appearances). His homer off a position player (Daniel Descalso) -- a true role reversal if ever there was one -- likely stuck in the minds of voters.