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J.D. Martinez, Christian Yelich among 2018 Silver Slugger Award winners

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Awards season continues with the 2018 Silver Slugger Awards handed out on Thursday evening. Here are your winners:

American League

  • C: Salvador Pérez, Royals (second)
  • 1B: José Abreu, White Sox (second)
  • 2B: José Altuve, Astros (fifth)
  • 3B: José Ramírez, Indians (second)
  • SSFrancisco Lindor, Indians (second)
  • OF: Mookie Betts, Red Sox (second)
  • OF: Mike Trout, Angels (sixth)
  • OF: J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (second)
  • DH: J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (third)

It was almost a clean sweep for Josés across the AL infield. One can certainly make an argument for Xander Bogaerts over Lindor at shortstop, but it’s splitting hairs. Bogaerts had a .373 weighted on-base average (wOBA) to Lindor’s .368. Lindor, however, led in many of the counting stats like home runs (38 to 23) and runs scored (129 to 72) while coming to the plate 165 more times. A similar hair-splitting case can be made for Alex Bregman over Ramírez at third base.

Martinez getting the award as both an outfielder and as a DH — becoming the first player to ever win the award twice in the same year — is interesting. It’s deserved, of course, as he had an absurdly productive season, batting .330/.402/.629 with 43 home runs and 130 RBI in 649 plate appearances. Martinez was far above his competition (excepting winners Trout and Betts) at both positions. Martinez, however, played 93 games at DH and 57 as an outfielder. Just give the award to him as a DH and give Aaron Judge the third outfield Silver Slugger. Alternatively, give Martinez the award as an outfielder and Khris Davis as the DH.

National League

Lots of first-time winners in the National League, including Markakis. I would have given the award to a handful of hitters over Markakis, whose .345 wOBA ranked 13th of 26 qualified outfielders. Brandon Nimmo, Bryce Harper, Charlie Blackmon, Rhys Hoskins, Lorenzo Cain, José Martínez, Ben Zobrist, Gregory Polanco, and Matt Kemp had a higher wOBA than Markakis, and Cody Bellinger tied him. That Markakis got a Silver Slugger is perplexing.

Really splitting hairs here, but Michael Lorenzen should’ve gotten the Silver Slugger for pitchers. Lorenzen hit, in 34 plate appearances, .290/.330/.710 with four homers and 10 RBI. Márquez hit .300/.300/.350 with a homer and five RBI in 65 PA.

Overall, though, the Silver Sluggers went to the most deserving players.

Barry Zito rooted against his own team in the 2010 World Series

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Retired big league pitcher Barry Zito has a memoir coming out. Much of it will likely track the usual course of an athlete’s memoir. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and a few fun and/or sad and/or thoughtful anecdotes along the way. One bit of it, though, is not the stuff of the usual athlete memoir.

He writes that he ctually rooted against the San Francisco Giants — his own team —  in the 2010 World Series. He did so because he was left off the postseason roster, felt miserable about it and let his ego consume him. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

“It was really hard to admit . . . I rooted against the team because my ego was in full control and if we lost then I could get out of there . . . It would a) prove they couldn’t do it without me, and b) take me out of the situation because I was so miserable coming to the field every day. I was so deep in shame. I wanted out of that situation so bad.”

Zito at that point was midway through a seven-year, $126 million contract he signed with the Giants after the 2006 season. Almost as soon as he signed it he transformed from one of the better pitchers in the game — he had a 124 ERA+ in eight seasons with the Oakland Athletics and won the 2002 Cy Young Award — to being a liability for the Giants. Indeed, he only had one season in San Francisco where, again, by ERA+, he was a league-average starter or better. In 2010 he went 9-14 with a 4.15 ERA and was way worse than that down the stretch. It made perfect sense for the Giants to leave him off the 2010 postseason roster. And, of course, it worked out for them.

Things would improve. He’d still generally struggle as a Giant, but in 2012 he was a hero of the NLCS, pitching the Giants past the Cardinals in a must-win game. He then got the Game 1 start in the World Series and beat Justin Verlander as the Giants won that game and then swept the Tigers out of the series. As time went on he’d fine more personal happiness as well. When his contract ended following the 2013 season Zito took out a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle thanking Giants fans for their support. He’d leave the game in 2014 and pitch three more games for the Athletics in 2015 before retiring for good.

Not many baseball memoirs deliver hard truths like Zito’s appears willing to do. That’s pretty damn brave of him. And pretty damn admirable.