Category Archives: Silver Slugger

Stupid Awards Season

Well, here we are. The postseason is over. The preseason is many months away. Roar of the Tigers has stopped watching TV in the name of actually (gasp!) doing work. This season… what season is this? It is a season constructed by Major League Baseball in an attempt to appease us, to give us something to talk about that isn’t trades involving Melky Cabrera or the sad state of Oriole affairs. Yes, we are firmly in the midst of Stupid Awards Season.

Stupid Awards Season asks you to care deeply about these poorly determined awards. And you want to care! You want to care because you want your favorite super wicked awesome baseball player to be recognized by everyone for his super wicked awesomeness. At the same time, you don’t want to care, because you (if you are a sane, moderately educated baseball fan) recognize that these awards are at some essential level mostly what Jim Leyland would call, ahem, horsesh!t.

FOR INSTANCE.


drawings by Samara Pearlstein

Miguel Cabrera wins the batting title. Miguel Cabrera does not win the Silver Slugger. I would tell you how this makes sense, but I cannot, because it actually makes no sense whatsoever. Adrian Gonzalez is a good hitter and all, but Miguel was better than him at basically everything you can legally do with a bat in the game of baseball this year.

It’s ok, because Miguel loves his own bat and has no need for that stupid silver hardware, but it’s the principle of the thing.

BUT THEN

Alex Avila wins the Silver Slugger at catcher. Did he catch more games than anyone else in the universe? Yes. Does this mean that, in my biased little fan-heart, I think he deserves all the awards ever? Yes, yes, of course. Were his overall numbers better than, saaaaay, those of Mike Napoli, who basically hit better across the board and went to the World Series to boot? Erm. Well.

But, you see: this we like. Alex Avila’s durability and (perhaps more importantly) dogged tenacity convince voters that he deserves a metal stick more than Mike Napoli’s 1.046 OPS does. Stupid Awards Season!

Then Austin Jackson fails to win a Gold Glove. Okay. The fact that I wanted him to win is almost certainly, in this case, the tiny Paws in my brain guiding my thoughts. And again, it’s not as if he desperately needs it to tell us all that sometimes he makes plays so good that Rod Allen loses his mind and control of his vocal cords. Just more Stupid Awards Season nonsense.

We are still waiting on the MVP results. But Justin Verlander did get another award recently. It was Player of the Year (or something?) in the Players Choice Awards (or something?). These are even MORE made-up than Silver Sluggers and Gold Gloves. They are nice because they involve charity, but basically they are a measure of how much a particular dude has impressed all the other dudes in the MLBPA in any given year.

Justin Verlander frightens his opposition and his stunning good looks have charmed his peers. He commands respect and he’s popular. This particular Stupid Award is perfect for him, and he has duly received it. Woo, yay, etc.

If a Tiger does not win the MVP award, it will not matter in the least. The award is not strictly based on merit. At root it is meaningless. But that won’t stop our righteous and strident indignation. Something to look forward to! Thanks, Stupid Awards Season!

Miguel Cabrera is good at hitting a baseball.


image by Samara Pearlstein

SILVER SLUGGER SILVER SLUGGER SILVER SLUGGER
MIGUEL CABRERA MIGUEL CABRERA MIGUEL CABRERA

Sweet shiny victory! Miguel Cabrera has won his third Silver Slugger award for being good at hitting a baseball in the sport of baseball.

He had a .328/.420/.622 line this season, with 38 home runs and 45 doubles (and one lone triple). He had 89 walks, most on the team by far. He played in 150 of the 162 games and probably could have played in a couple more at the end there, but he was starting to be vaguely hurt and since the Tigers were playing for nothing at all, nobody wanted to push it. He’s second in games-started to only Austin Jackson, who has the advantages of actual-youth and baseball-youth (remember, even though he’s only 27, this was Miggy’s 8th pro season).

He wins it this season at first base, obviously, after winning it as an outfielder and a third baseman in previous seasons.

You see what wonders occur when you stop consuming alcohol in an irresponsible manner, Miguel? You carry the team as far as is possible for its bloated, injured mass to be carried, and you win fabulous silver mantelpiece bling. Let this be a lesson to us all.

Now comes the big question: is Miguel Cabrera the American League MVP? The true answer, of course, is YES, but we shall have to wait a bit to see if the league is willing to acknowledge truth this year or what.

“I think he probably gets more respect from an offensive standpoint than any hitter in the league,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I think he’s been the best player in the league this year.”

“Do I think he’s the MVP? Yes,” Leyland said last month. “I’m not going to try to talk anybody into anything, because that’s not my job.”
Jason Beck/DetroitTigers.com

Jim Leyland has spoken. Let it be so.

silver bats for awesome cats


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

The Tigers are really raking in the shiny this year. Silver Slugger awards are out, and once again the Tigs have some pretty good representation.

Your AL Silver Slugger winners:

C Jorge Posada, Yankees
1B Carlos Pena, Devil Rays
2B Placido Polanco, Tigers
3B Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
SS Derek Jeter, Yankees
OF Vlad Guerrero, Angels
OF Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
OF Magglio Ordonez, Tigers
DH David Ortiz, Red Sox

Not bad. I think we could’ve had Carlos Guillen in at shortstop over Jeter (.840 OPS for Jeter, .859 OPS for Guillen) but they were pretty close and Jeter did have a better regular batting average, so, accepting that these awards are kind of silly and a bit flawed overall, it’s not a bad choice.

Curtis Granderson, though, seems to have gotten overlooked again. Good as Ichiro was, his .827 OPS pales in comparison to the .913 OPS that Granderson put up on the year, and since both of them had batting averages over .300 I’d put more weight on the other numbers. It seems ridiculous that someone could have the kind of year that Granderson had, both in the field and at the plate, and not have any hardware to show for it. The poor guy’s gonna have to bat .400 and play defense like a giant human Venus fly trap and save an orphanage full of children from a host of mutated locusts before he gets the recognition he deserves (outside of Detroit, I mean… here in Michigan we certainly all recognize the full scope of his gloriousness).

But hey, two Tigers getting Silver Sluggers ain’t half bad, and the two who did get them were both richly deserving. Nobody can argue against Magglio’s inclusion here, not with his league-best batting average and his 1.000+ OPS and his flowing locks of mighty fashion and hitting prowess. To argue against Magglio winning a batting award is to argue against batting itself.

Polanco rounded out his incredible year with his second metal-encased baseball equipment award in only a few days. While it’s a little frustrating to see Granderson denied these things, it is AWFULLY nice to see Polanco getting the recognition that he definitely earned this year. It still boggles my mind that we were able to snatch him away from the quirkly embrace of the Phillie Phanatic with such relative ease. Polanco hasn’t just been a serviceable second baseman for the Tigers: he has been a snood-wearing snazzy-fielding sharp-hitting awesomely-grimacing seemingly bottomless source of skill and entertainment for us all.

I mean, OK, they did need to free up Chase Utley, and it’s not like he’s played poorly for them since they managed to give him starting time. Still. Polanco, you know, = love.

It’s also worth mentioning that Carlos Pena got his very first Silver Slugger award this year, and it was well earned (his 1.038 OPS was actually BETTER than Magglio’s still incredibly impressive 1.029, to give you some perspective on the kind of season he had). I always said that Carlos always had the raw ability to be a good hitter, and all he needed was consistency over an entire season. This year he finally found that consistency. It’s too bad that it took him until he got to Tampa Bay to figure his business out; it would have been very sweet for the Tigers’ investment in him to be rewarded by a good season in Detroit, but I’m happy for him nonetheless (…and of course it’s easier to be happy for him since the Rays didn’t really pose much of a threat during the season).