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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.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).