Mike Trout, Ronald Acuña Jr. among 2019 Silver Slugger Award winners

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Awards season continues with the 2019 Silver Slugger Awards handed out on Thursday evening. Here are your winners:

American League

C: Mitch Garver, Twins (1st)
1B: Carlos Santana, Indians (1st)
2B: DJ LeMahieu (1st)
3B: Alex Bregman, Astros (1st)
SS: Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox (3rd)
OF: George Springer, Astros (2nd)
OF: Mookie Betts, Red Sox (3rd)
OF: Mike Trout, Angels (7th)
DH: Nelson Cruz, Twins (3rd)

Lots of first-time winners here, but Trout sticks out the most, winning his seventh Silver Slugger. He turned 28 years old in August. How big is his trophy case now, and how big will it have to be to hold all of his hardware by the time his career is finished? Along with the Silver Sluggers, he has the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year Award, the 2012 Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year Award, and two AL MVP Awards. He could add another next week.

One can definitely make some arguments for some other players being more deserving at certain positions, but by and large, the right players were selected. The closest battle was LeMahieu over
José Altuve, who has five Silver Sluggers to his name. According to FanGraphs, LeMahieu had the narrow edge in wOBA, .375 to .374. Altuve out-homered him, but had fewer run sand RBI, as well as a lower batting average and on-base percentage.

Bregman could have arguably won the Silver Slugger at two positions, as J.D. Martinez did last year in the outfield and as a DH. Due to Carlos Correa missing time with an injury, Bregman played 495 innings as a shortstop as well as 806 1/3 innings at his usual spot at third base.

National League

C: J.T. Realmuto, Phillies (2nd)
1B: Freddie Freeman, Braves (1st)
2B: Ozzie Albies, Braves (1st)
3B: Anthony Rendon, Nationals (2nd)
SS: Trevor Story, Rockies (2nd)
OF: Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves (1st)
OF: Cody Bellinger, Dodgers (1st)
OF: Christian Yelich, Brewers (3rd)
P: Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks (2nd)

No surprise that Greinke took home the Silver Slugger for pitchers despite spending his final two months in the American League. Greinke mashed three homers and eight RBI with a .280 batting average.

One could certainly have made an argument for Yasmani Grandal or Willson Contreras winning over Realmuto behind the dish, as both had higher wOBA. Realmuto, however, scored the most runs and drove in the most runs out of the bunch while also swiping nine bases.

The Braves cleaned up, winning three of the eight Silver Sluggers handed out in the National League. That may be the case again in 2020… and 2021. The Braves have enviable youth.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.