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MLB Silver Slugger Nominees (And My Picks to Win Each): AL Edition

Mark Feinsand recently tweeted that the MLB has announced their finalists for the 2021 Silver Slugger awards for each position.

Over the next three days I’m going to address each leagues nominees, who I think should win, and on Friday showcase a collection of snubs for the award this year.

Today we highlight the American League!

 


 

Catchers:

Nominees: Salvador Perez (KC), Mike Zunino (TB), Gary Sanchez (NYY)

Salvador Perez should be the clear and obvious favorite to win the Silver Slugger for American League catchers this season. Of the three catchers nominated, Perez holds the lead in Home Runs, RBI’s, AVG, OBP, wRC, and Fangraphs’ Off metric. And while leading catchers in one league for one year is impressive, it also should be noted that Perez set the MLB record for HR’s hit in a season as a catcher and he was also the only qualified catcher for a batting title.

It is pretty clear that Perez is going to end up the winner for the award, though the other nominees do deserve their own credit. Mike Zunino had the highest SLG, OPS, and wRC+ for all American League catchers and was the only other catcher in the MLB to hit over 30 Home Runs. For his credit as well, Gary Sanchez also hit the third most Home Runs for catchers in the AL.

table.tableizer-table { font-size: 12px; border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #CCC; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }#NameTeamGPAABH2B3BHRRBIBBSOAVGOBPSLGOPSwRCwRC+Off1Salvador PerezKCR1616656201692404812128170.273.316.544.85910512721.22Mike ZuninoTBR10937533372112336234132.216.301.559.8605913416.13Gary SanchezNYY11744038378131235452121.204.307.423.7305399-3.8

 

First Base:

Nominees: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR), Matt Olson (OAK), Yuli Gurriel (HOU)

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the favorite among first baseman and the point is pretty clear as to why: he’s the only first baseman who hit to a .300/.400/.500 triple-slash (and that’s underselling him because his SLG was actually above .600 and his OPS was above 1.000), he hit the most HR’s in the MLB (tied with Perez), and passed 100 RBI’s quite easily while competing for the Triple-Crown for a large part of the season.

Matt Olson and Yuli Gurriel also had great seasons as Olson passed a .900 OPS with nearly 40 HR’s and Gurriel was the AL batting crown winner with the highest overall batting average. However, neither was near the level of Vladito this year.

table.tableizer-table { font-size: 12px; border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #CCC; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }#NameTeamGPAABH2B3BHRRBIBBSOAVGOBPSLGOPSwRCwRC+Off1Vladimir Guerrero Jr.TOR1616986041882914811186110.311.401.6011.00214516654.12Matt OlsonOAK1566735651533503911188113.271.371.540.91111714637.83Yuli GurrielHOU14360553016931015815968.319.383.462.8469813423.6

 

Second Base:

Nominees: Marcus Semien (TOR), Jose Altuve (HOU), Jorge Polanco (MIN), DJ LeMahieu (NYY)

Marcus Semien would be my favorite to take home the silver bat for second basemen this year as he hit the most Home Runs, had the most RBI’s, had the highest SLG and OPS, as well as leading all the advanced metrics. Two of the other three choices could also compete for the award as Jose Altuve did have a very close wRC+ of 130 to Semien’s 131 and Jorge Polanco hit to the highest AVG, though neither is likely.

DJ LeMahieu also got nominated, though he didn’t lead any metric besides walks and was just a league-average hitter. Huh.

table.tableizer-table { font-size: 12px; border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #CCC; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }#NameTeamGPAABH2B3BHRRBIBBSOAVGOBPSLGOPSwRCwRC+Off1Marcus SemienTOR1627246521733924510266146.265.334.538.87312013131.52Jose AltuveHOU14667860116732131836691.278.350.489.83910613027.23Jorge PolancoMIN152644588158352339845118.269.323.503.8269712220.64DJ LeMahieuNYY15067959716024110577394.268.349.362.71183100-1.9

 

third Base:

Nominees: Rafael Devers (BOS), Jose Ramirez (CLE), Kyle Seager (SEA)

The third base silver slugger is should be an extremely close race between Rafael Devers and Jose Ramirez, and ultimately I think Devers will take it. Devers had the better accumulation stats (HR, RBI, XBH, and wRC) as well as AVG while Ramirez had the better rate-stats like OBP, OPS, wRC+, and Off. Either of the two could win, but as the Silver Slugger is voted on by managers/coaches in the league I think the standard stats guy wins.

Kyle Seager’s nomination is another strange one as he was near, though below a league-average hitter in 2021 and didn’t lead third basemen in any good statistic (of these three he does lead in K’s). I guess his 35 HR’s and 101 RBI’s is what got noticed, which is again why I think Devers wins out here.

table.tableizer-table { font-size: 12px; border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #CCC; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }#NameTeamGPAABH2B3BHRRBIBBSOAVGOBPSLGOPSwRCwRC+Off1Rafael DeversBOS1566645911653713811362143.279.352.538.89011313427.62Jose RamirezCLE152636552147325361037287.266.355.538.89310713735.43Kyle SeagerSEA1596706031282913510159161.212.285.438.7237799-3.0

 

Shortstop:

Nominees: Xander Bogaers (BOS), Carlos Correa (HOU), Bo Bichette (TOR), Tim Anderson (CHW)

This is a very tight race between everybody not named Tim Anderson. Xander Bogaerts holds the lead in OBP, SLG, and OPS though he hit fewer HR’s and had less RBI’s than Correa and Bichette. Carlos Correa has the best wRC+ and the most XBH of the three. Bo Bichette had the best AVG, wRC, HR’s, and RBI’s in the trio. Ultimately I think Bichette wins out here for the same logic as Devers (above). Close races need some sort of tie-breaker and hitting the most HR’s and having the most RBI’s are two go-to options.

Tim Anderson should get some credit with his .309 AVG, though he is clearly one step (albeit a small step) behind the others of the nominees.

table.tableizer-table { font-size: 12px; border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #CCC; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }#NameTeamGPAABH2B3BHRRBIBBSOAVGOBPSLGOPSwRCwRC+Off1Xander BogaertsBOS144603529156341237962113.295.370.493.86310013023.72Carlos CorreaHOU148640555155341269275116.279.366.485.85010413426.33Bo BichetteTOR1596906401913012910240137.298.343.484.82810612225.24Tim AndersonCHW123551527163292176122119.309.338.469.8068112019.6

 

Outfield (3):

Nominees: Aaron Judge (NYY), Kyle Tucker (HOU), Cedric Mullins II (BAL), Teoscar Hernandez (TOR), Randy Arozarena (TB), Hunter Renfroe (BOS), Mitch Haniger (SEA), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (TOR)

With 8 nominees for 3 spots, separating the potential winners seems like it should be a little more difficult for the outfield, but in actuality it isn’t. The three winners should be Aaron Judge, Kyle Tucker, and Cedric Mullins II. For Judge, he led all nominated OF in Home Runs (with Mitch Haniger), OBP, Off, and both wRC and wRC+; Tucker led all nominated OF in Doubles (with Mullins) SLG, OPS and was just 1 point short of Judge in wRC+; Mullins led all nominated OF in Hits, Doubles (with Tucker), Triples, XBH, was 1 point short of Judge in wRC, and had a 30-30 season (though I did not include SB on these stat charts).

For the rest, Teoscar Hernandez led all nominated OF in AVG and RBI’s, Randy Arozarena gets a boost for being a rookie and putting up comparable stats across the board, and Mitch Haniger tied with Judge for most HR’s and he passed 100 RBI’s. Hunter Renfore and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. also had good seasons, but find themselves a step below those three.

table.tableizer-table { font-size: 12px; border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #CCC; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }#NameTeamGPAABH2B3BHRRBIBBSOAVGOBPSLGOPSwRCwRC+Off1Aaron JudgeNYY148633550158240399875158.287.373.544.91611514837.52Kyle TuckerHOU14056750614937330925390.294.359.557.91710114735.23Cedric Mullins IIBAL159675602175375305959125.291.360.518.87811413634.24Teoscar HernandezTOR1435955501632903211636148.296.346.524.8709913225.55Randy ArozarenaTBR141604529145323206956170.274.356.459.8159112822.06Hunter RenfroeBOS144572521135330319644130.259.315.501.816831147.37Mitch HanigerSEA1576916201572323910054169.253.318.485.8049812015.98Lourdes Gurriel Jr.TOR141541500138282218432102.276.319.466.785741073.0

 

Designated Hitter:

Nominees: Shohei Ohtani (LAA), Giancarlo Stanton (NYY), Yordan Alvarez (HOU), Joey Gallo (TEX/NYY), Nelson Cruz (MIN/TB)

Shohei Ohtani is and should be the favorite going into the DH Silver Slugger as he had the most Doubles, Triples, Home Runs (and given all that obviously also XBH), OBP, SLG, OPS, wRC, wRC+, and Off. In a position that is all about producing with the bat he was far and away the best at doing so.

All the remaining DH’s had 30+ Home Runs, though to highlight each Giancarlo Stanton had a good season with the next best-OBP. Yordan Alvarez had the next-most Hits, RBI’s, the best AVG, OPS, wRC, wRC+, and Off. Joey Gallo had the next most HR’s and the most overall Walks (and overall Strikeouts). Nelson Cruz had a solid season, but wasn’t 1st or 2nd in any of these metrics.

table.tableizer-table { font-size: 12px; border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #CCC; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }#NameTeamGPAABH2B3BHRRBIBBSOAVGOBPSLGOPSwRCwRC+Off1Shohei OhtaniLAA1586395371382684610096189.257.372.592.96511915242.92Giancarlo StantonNYY139579510139190359763157.273.354.516.8709713719.03Yordan AlvarezHOU1445985371493513310450145.277.346.531.87710013828.64Joey Gallo– – –153616498991313877111213.199.351.458.8089212321.25Nelson Cruz– – –140584513136211328651126.265.334.497.8328612214.0

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