V-Mart wins Silver Slugger at DH
For the first time since 2011, Miguel Cabrera did not win a Silver Slugger Award. For the first time since 2004, Victor Martinez did.
On a night when baseball’s awards season shifted from defensive honors to the game’s best hitters at each position, Martinez beat out a formidable group of designated hitters to win his second career Silver Slugger.
The Silver Slugger awards are voted on by Major League managers and coaches who decide on the best offensive producers at each position. According to Louisville Slugger, the bat manufacturer that sponsors the honor, the selections are based on a combination of statistics — batting average, on-base and slugging percentages — as well as managers’ and coaches’ impressions of a player’s offensive value.
Among a group that included AL home-run king Nelson Cruz and perennial candidate David Ortiz, Martinez not only posted the all-around numbers to outshine them all, he earned his reputation among many managers and coaches as the American League’s toughest out this year. His .335 batting average finished second only to Houston’s Jose Altuve among AL hitters. His .974 OPS led baseball, while his .409 on-base percentage led the AL.
His .565 slugging percentage topped even Cruz, thanks to 33 doubles along with his 32 home runs. What impressed many, however, was his 70-to-42 walk-to-strikeout ratio. He entered the summer with more home runs than strikeouts, and hit four home runs on 0-2 pitches. He had 17 hits on full counts, compared to just four strikeouts.
“Victor can hit good pitching,” Indians manager Terry Francona, who managed Martinez in Boston in 2010, said in May. “Some guys, you make a mistake, they hit it and you still put up a lot of numbers. There’s a lot of good hitters that do that. When Victor is going good, he can hit one from his shoetops to his ears. It makes you nervous.”
Martinez’s only other Silver Slugger came 10 years ago in his first full Major League season, at catcher. Then a Cleveland Indian, he shared the award with then-Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez.
Cabrera was trying to carry his silver success over from third base, where he had won the past two Silver Slugger awards, over to first. Though he overcame a slow start and a severely hampered ankle at the finish to bat .313 with 25 home runs and 109 RBIs, he couldn’t top the monster rookie season of White Sox slugger Jose Abreu.