Shin-Soo Choo gets boned, and other thoughts on the Silver Slugger Awards

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The Silver Slugger Awards were announced last night. Like the Gold Gloves, the Silver Slugger is voted on by managers and coaches and stuff. Which makes little damn sense. We’ve long been in a world where offensive contributions can be quantified objectively — especially compared to defense — so why there’s a vote involved is beyond me.  What’s next? Voting for the winner of the 100 meters?

But they still do it, so let’s see how they did.  In the AL we have:

1B — Mark Teixeira
2B — Aaron Hill
3B — Evan Longoria
SS — Derek Jeter
OF — Ichiro Suzuki
OF — Torii Hunter
OF — Jason Bay
C —  Joe Mauer
DH –Adam Lind

Teixeira is the right choice. Youkilis had a great season but didn’t have the plate appearances to match Teix’s overall production. Miguel Cabrera is in the conversation too, but Teix edges him almost everywhere it matters, and had the big RBI numbers that catch the voters’ eyes.

Same story could be told at third, where A-Rod had better rate stats but missed too much time. Ben Zobrist brought way more to the table than Aaron Hill did. I suppose he was docked because he only played 91 games at second base, but Adam Lind only DH’d for 95 games and he made the grade. 

Shin-Soo Choo was boned in the outfield. He created more runs than any AL outfielder and was third in OPS. Torii Hunter missed time a la A-Rod and Youkilis, but unlike them, he wasn’t docked. I’d give it to Choo over Hunter. And before you say anything, no, they didn’t need one representative from each outfield position. They could have given it to three leftfielders if they wanted to.  Apparently Indians fans weren’t the only people who ignored what was going on with the Indians this year.

In the NL it’s:

1B — Albert Pujols
2B — Chase Utley
3B — Ryan Zimmerman
SS — Hanley Ramirez
OF — Ryan Braun
OF — Andre Ethier
OF — Matt Kemp
C — Brian McCann
P — Carlos Zambrano

The NL is pretty darn good.  Pujols, Utley and Ramirez are no-brainers. Brian McCann is the right call too. I think Pablo Sandoval might have been a better choice than Zimmerman, even if he spent time at other positions (120 games at 3B). I’m sure a lot of it has to do with Zimmerman’s scorching-hot start, whereas Sandoval was more of a solid, hoo-hum producer throughout the year. I wonder if there wasn’t a little bit in the way of seniority-preferences or east coast bias at work too.

Either and Kemp are a tossup from a purely offensive perspective, but I can’t help but think that one of them should have made way for Jayson Werth.

Why they give a Silver Slugger to a pitcher is beyond me, but sure, give it to Zambrano. If you don’t he may hit you or have a nervous breakdown or something.

Of course no one ever fights over the Silver Slugger Award. We’ll save that for later this month when the BBWAA awards are announced.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.