Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book Report: Top Five WTF Silver Sluggers

Of all the MLB hardware handed out each fall, the Silver Slugger may be the most forgettable. It resides in that grey area between All-Star berth and MVP consideration and really, does little to arouse public interest—in spite of the super cool metal bats the recipients receive.

Time will tell if 2010 winners such as Jose Bautista and Alexei Ramirez are able to parlay their success into immortality beyond this calendar year. For the former, his 54 home runs was an incredible 38 above his career total and for the latter, he was simply the best of a bat lot, just finishing ahead of an aging Derek Jeter and an uninspiring Yuniesky Betancourt in the voting.

Thus, in the spirit of reality, here are the Top 5 WTF Silver Sluggers from years past.

5. Mike Stanley, C, New York Yankees, 1993
I’m actually a Mike Stanley fan so it pains me to put him on this list. In his brief time with my hometown Blue Jays in 1998, he proved to be a smart, serviceable hitter with good power, a good eye and a winning ‘tude. I just don’t think he was Silver Slugger material overall, although in fairness, his 1993 stats are pretty stellar for a catcher (0.305, 26, 84).

4. Rick Burleson, SS, California Angels, 1981
The 1981 version of Alexei Ramirez. Burleson was a vaguely useful middle infielder for the Angels and Red Sox in the late Seventies/early Eighties. But he wasn’t a slugger. Of any kind. Ever. He slugged 0.372 in the 1981 season for Christ sake. Total WTF, man. I guess the strike totally took out any semblance of offense for AL shortstops.

3. Jack Wilson, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates, 2004
See Burleson but add 200+ hits at least. Probably a better hitter than Burleson overall but he was sharing the league with solid, stand-up Latinos like Edgar Renteria and Rafael Furcal so it’s an oddity Wilson was able to slip through the cracks.

2. Joe Crede, 3B, Chicago White Sox, 2006
I never bought this guy as a quality big league regular and I have no clue why voters chose Crede over Alex Rodriguez and his 0.290/35/121 performance.

1. Manny Trillo, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies, 1980/1981
Trillo takes home top spot as perhaps the most decorated singles hitter in MLB history: 4 All-Star appearances, a World Series ring with the Phillies and incredible back-to-back Silver Slugger awards in 1980 and 1981. Trillo hit a COMBINED 13 home runs between the two seasons and slugged a paltry 0.406 during that span. Just brutal and the National League would continue to struggle at the position for much of the Eighties, making Ryne Sandberg appear Godlike in the process. If you’re curious, some of the other elite NL 2B of the era include a late thirties Joe Morgan, a young Tom Herr and a scrappy Phil Garner.

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