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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.

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: