Heavy hardware: Silver Sluggers on deck
MLB Network to unveil awards for top offensive performers
We may be months away from live Major League action, but there's still plenty for baseball fans to look forward to this month, including awards recognition for some of last season's top performers.
Awards season continues today with the game's premiere offensive honors -- the Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Awards. The best hitters in the American and National Leagues will be commemorated for their 2015 campaigns in a live televised event on MLB Network, beginning at 6 p.m. ET.
The Silver Slugger Awards, which began in 1980, are presented annually to a player at each position in both leagues, with coaches and managers voting for who they feel were the best offensive producers that season.
Three Silver Slugger streaks are on the line, with Andrew McCutchen, Ian Desmond and Mike Trout all tied at three straight.
Trout, who's won the award every full season he's been in the big leagues, homered a career-high 41 times and posted a .299/.402/.590 slash line through 159 games.
Desmond's streak is likely to expire as the Nationals shortstop's numbers were down across the board.
McCutchen's averages also dipped in 2015, but he still matched his career best for RBIs with 96 and established a new career high for walks (98).
Alex Rodriguez could close in on history if he takes home his 11th Silver Slugger, bringing him within one of Barry Bonds' Major League record. It'd be Rodriguez's first since 2008 as well as his first as a designated hitter. His previous 10 have come at shortstop (seven) and third base (three).
After missing the 2014 season due to suspension, the 21-year veteran had a productive comeback for the Yankees, batting .250 with 33 homers and 86 RBIs.
Another well-decorated veteran who could add to an already extensive trophy collection is David Ortiz, in the running for his seventh. His six as a DH are already the most for any player at the position. Others with multiple awards who could pick up another this year include Albert Pujols (six), Ryan Braun (five), Brian McCann (five), Mark Teixeira (three) and Prince Fielder (three).
It won't all be repeat winners, however. Last year saw eight players earn their first Silver Sluggers, and 2015 could bring even more. Multiple MVP finalists -- Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson, Joey Votto and Lorenzo Cain -- are in the mix for their first.
The World Series champion Royals could also be represented among first-time recipients with Cain, Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas, Kendrys Morales and Eric Hosmer all candidates at their respective positions.