After a season filled with some unforgettable offensive performances, MLB’s top hitters were recognized Thursday night when the Silver Slugger Awards were announced on MLB Network.
The World Series-champion Braves led the way with four winners, tied for the second most by any team in a single season, behind the 1980 Cardinals with five. First-time winners included Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Shohei Ohtani, while Freddie Freeman, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto were among the players who repeated after winning in 2020.
Here are the 2021 Silver Slugger Award winners:
AL winner: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays (first win)
No surprise here after the 22-year-old Guerrero tied Royals catcher Salvador Perez for the Major League lead in homers (48) while topping the AL in on-base percentage (.401) and slugging percentage (.601). No big leaguer scored more runs (123) or had more total bases (363) than Guerrero, who became the youngest first baseman and the youngest Blue Jays player to win a Silver Slugger Award.
NL winner: Freddie Freeman, Braves (third win)
Freeman, the 2020 NL MVP and a newly minted World Series champion, earned his third consecutive Silver Slugger Award after hitting .300 with 31 homers, an .896 OPS and an NL-leading 120 runs scored over 159 games. In Braves history, only Brian McCann (five), Dale Murphy (four) and Tom Glavine (four) have won more Silver Slugger Awards than Freeman.
AL winner: Marcus Semien, Blue Jays (first win)
After signing a one-year deal with the Blue Jays and moving from shortstop to second base, Semien took home his first career Silver Slugger Award. Playing all 162 games, the veteran infielder set a record for a primary second baseman with 45 homers and logged 102 RBIs, scored 115 runs and posted an .873 OPS.
NL winner: Ozzie Albies, Braves (second win)
Albies carved out a piece of positional history in 2021, becoming the fourth second baseman to record 30-plus homers, 20-plus steals and 100-plus RBIs in a single season. The others: Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg in 1990, Alfonso Soriano in 2002 and 2005 and Javier Báez in 2018. The performance earned the 24-year-old his second career Silver Slugger Award.
AL winner: Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox (fourth win)
Bogaerts is moving toward some exclusive territory at his position with his fourth Silver Slugger Award. The only shortstops with more are Barry Larkin (nine), Cal Ripken Jr. (eight), Alex Rodriguez (seven) and Derek Jeter (five). The three-time All-Star hit .295 with 23 home runs, 34 doubles and an .863 OPS over 144 games in 2021.
NL winner: Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres (second win)
After showing flashes of brilliance in abbreviated samples during his first two seasons in the Majors, Tatis fully blossomed into a superstar in 2021. Battling through a recurring left shoulder injury that caused multiple IL stints, Tatis led the NL with 42 homers and added 97 RBIs, 99 runs, 25 steals and a .975 OPS over 130 games. This win gives Tatis two Silver Sluggers, making him one of five players (joining Ronald Acuña Jr., Mike Trout, Fernando Valenzuela and Juan Soto) to win multiple Silver Sluggers before the age of 23 (age as of the last day of the regular season).
AL winner: Rafael Devers, Red Sox (first win)
Devers earned his first All-Star selection in 2021, and now he has his first Silver Slugger Award as well. The first Red Sox third baseman to win a Silver Slugger since Adrián Beltré in 2010, Devers had a career-high 38 homers with 113 RBIs, 101 runs scored and an .890 OPS over 156 games.
NL winner: Austin Riley, Braves (first win)
Only three players had at least a .300 average, 30 homers and 100 RBIs in 2021: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Nick Castellanos and Riley. The 24-year-old stepped up after Ronald Acuna Jr. suffered a season-ending ACL tear, hitting .333 with 19 homers, 65 RBIs and a .976 OPS in the second half to sew up his first Silver Slugger Award. The last Braves third baseman to win one? Hall of Famer Chipper Jones in 2000.
AL winner: Salvador Perez, Royals (fourth win)
While Perez saw increased time as the Royals’ designated hitter in 2021 as the team attempted to keep him fresh, the veteran still drew 120 starts behind the plate and only missed one game all year, making his offensive output all the more remarkable. Now a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner (the most in Royals history), Perez set an AL/NL record for the most homers (48) by a player to make at least 50% of his appearances behind the plate. He tied for the big league lead in that department and was MLB’s outright leader with 121 RBIs.
NL winner: Buster Posey, Giants (fifth win)
After announcing his retirement, Posey gets to ride off into the sunset with his fifth career Silver Slugger Award, tied for the fifth most among catchers and the second most in Giants history behind Barry Bonds (nine). Returning to San Francisco after electing not to play in 2020, Posey put up a .304/.390/.499 slash line and 18 homers for the 107-win club.
Teoscar Hernández, Blue Jays (second win)
Hernández followed up a mini-breakout during the shortened 2020 season with a strong encore, recording a .296 average, 32 homers and 116 RBIs -- all career bests -- to win his second straight Silver Slugger Award.
Aaron Judge, Yankees (second win)
After missing nearly a full season’s worth of games (142) across 2018-20, Judge stayed upright in 2021 and turned in a banner campaign, notching 39 homers, 98 RBIs and a .287/.373/.544 slash line over 148 games.
Cedric Mullins, Orioles (first win)
Mullins not only hit .291/.360/.518 but was also the lone MLB player to join the 30/30 club (30 homers, 30 steals) in 2021. His Silver Slugger win is the first by an Oriole since Mark Trumbo won in 2016.
Juan Soto, Nationals (second win)
One of the toughest outs in the game, Soto picked up his second straight Silver Slugger Award after putting up an eye-popping .313/.465/.534 slash line with 29 homers, 95 RBIs, 145 walks and 111 runs scored.
Bryce Harper, Phillies (second win)
Leading the Majors in OPS (1.044), Harper hit 35 dingers and was one of two qualifying players (Vlad Jr. was the other) to record a .300 average, .400 on-base percentage and .600 slugging percentage. He’s the first Phillies outfielder to win a Silver Slugger since Bobby Abreu in 2004.
Nick Castellanos, Reds (first win)
Despite missing time with a microfracture in his right wrist and appearing in 138 games, Castellanos socked a career-high 34 homers and reached the 100-RBI plateau for the second time as a big leaguer. The right-handed slugger also set personal bests in average (.309) and OPS (.939).
Shohei Ohtani, Angels (first win)
Ohtani’s historic two-way performance made him one of the biggest stories of the season, but let’s set aside what he did on the mound and take a second to marvel at his ridiculous offensive numbers: 46 homers, 100 RBIs, 103 runs, 26 steals and a .965 OPS.
Max Fried, Braves (first win)
Pitchers returned to hitting in 2021 after a one-year hiatus, and no NL hurler had more hits (15) than Fried. He batted .273 and posted a .322 on-base percentage over 67 plate appearances to become the first Atlanta pitcher since Mike Hampton (2003) to win a Silver Slugger Award.
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