Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014 Silver Sluggers Review

The major league batting champ was rewarded with his first Silver Slugger
Silver Sluggers were announced today, and while I was fine with most of them there were a few I disagreed with.

American League
C Yan Gomes
Gomes was a clear choice here given that he had the highest wOBA, wRC+, and second-most home runs among AL catchers (to Brian McCann). Nobody else had a good year behind the plate in the Junior Circuit, opening the door for Gomes in his first full season. He batted .278/.313/.472 with 21 big flies and 74 RBI despite striking out five times as often as he walked.

1B Jose Abreu
Hate to snub Miguel Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion, but Abreu was better than both. All he did was hit .317/.383/.581 with 36 home runs, 107 RBI, and the highest slugging and OPS+ in baseball.

2B Jose Altuve
Choosing between him and Robinson Cano came down to splitting hairs, but I'm fine with Altuve because he led the majors in hits and batting average with 225 and at .341, respectively. While he managed just seven home runs he did club 47 doubles and rack up 299 total bases.

3B Adrian Beltre
Another well-deserved honor for Beltre, who continued to pad his Hall of Fame totals with a seven-win season. Yup, that's what happens when you play elite defense at third and bat .324/.388/.492 in a parched scoring environment.

SS Alexei Ramirez
In a weak year for American League shortstops, Ramirez wins by default. His 15 homers and 74 RBI were most among AL shortstops, and he also smashed 35 doubles. en if his .273/.305/.408 line was roughly league average after adjustments for league and park. Jose Reyes was the only other one worth considering, and nobody in this day and age is going to give a Silver Slugger to a guy with nine home runs, 51 RBI and a .398 slugging percentage.

OF Mike Trout

OF Michael Brantley

OF Jose Bautista
Of course

DH Victor Martinez

Stanton was born to win Silver Sluggers (RantSports)
National League
C Buster Posey
Posey just barely beats out Jonathan Lucroy for the award on the strength of his slightly superior rate stats and power figures, which look even better with park adjustments. Posey rode a torrid second half to the finish line to end up at .311/.364/.490 with 22 homers and 89 RBI. Also feel obliged to mention Devin Mesoraco.

1B Adrian Gonzalez
Gonzalez had a good year by traditional standards with his 41 doubles, 27 homers and ML-leading 116 RBI, but Anthony Rizzo was clearly the better hitter. Not only did Rizzo exceed Gonzalez in all three rate stats, but he also outhomered Gonzo 32 to 27 and dwarfed him in wOBA (46 point edge for Rizzo) and wRC+ (25 point advantage). Rizzo missed 22 games to Gonzalez's three, but still provided twice as much offensive value according to FanGraphs.

2B Neil Walker
Pretty easy, as few NL second basemen had years worth remembering in 2014 besides Chase Utley and (I guess) Daniel Murphy. Walker was terrific though, smashing a career high 23 home runs to go along with his robust .271/.342/.467 batting line.

3B Anthony Rendon
Todd Frazier had a great year, but Rendon's was better. On top of leading the league in runs with 111, he also popped 21 homers and 39 doubles, batted .287/.351/.473, and knocked in 83 runs despite primarily batting second. And with the 17 steals in 20 tries, it was truly a fantastic all-around campaign.

SS Ian Desmond
Desmond won his third straight Silver Slugger with another solid all-around season, his third straight with at least 20 home runs and 20 steals. His 24 bombs and 91 RBI led the position, but his .255/.313/.430 slash line is not exactly eye-popping. Jhonny Peralta bettered Desmond in all three rate stats, hitting .263/.336/.443, and also posted a higher wOBA and wRC+. With 21 home runs and 75 RBI, his power numbers were nearly as good as Desmond's too. It's a close call either way, but I would have given it to Peralta who was worth 15 runs better than average as a hitter compared to Desmond's three.

OF Andrew McCutchen

OF Giancarlo Stanton

OF Justin Upton
Hold on there. While Upton had strong power numbers (29 taters, 102 RBI) to go along with his .270/.342/.491 batting line, those rate stats were nowhere near as good as Yasiel Puig's .296/.382/.480. Puig didn't hit for much power with 16 home runs and 61 RBI, but nevertheless crossed home 92 times, posted a .379 wOBA, and notched a gaudy 147 wRC+. FanGraphs estimates he provided roughly 33 percent more offensive value than B.J. Upton's little brother.

P Madison Bumgarner
We''ll always remember Bumgarner's 2014 for what he did on the mound in October, but let us not forget that he held his own at the plate that year as well. MadBum mashed four home runs and drove in 15 runs to support himself, batting .258/.286/.470 in 78 plate appearances. It was a surprising outburst given that he had managed a meager .138/.185/.192 line with two home runs and 16 RBI in his career prior to 2014.

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