The offensive half of baseball's end-of-season positional honors came out on Thursday, and Sizemore became the first Indians player in four years to win a Silver Slugger Award. The honor caps a season in which Sizemore continued his rise among baseball's top all-around catalysts, regardless of position.
"It's well deserved," manager Eric Wedge said. "This kid's one of the best all-around players in the game. You talk about a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger ... playing a premium position up the middle. What more do you want?"
Louisville Slugger's Silver Slugger Award winners were determined by a vote of Major League Baseball coaches and managers who vote for the players they felt were the best offensive producers at each position in both the American and National Leagues in 2008. Selections are based on a combination of offensive statistics including batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, as well as the coaches' and managers' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value. Managers and coaches were not allowed to vote for players on their own team.
Beyond Sizemore's sweet left-handed swing, his statistics made his argument clear. With 33 home runs and 38 stolen bases, he was the American League's only 30-30 player this past season and the first Indians player to do it since Joe Carter in 1987. Add in Sizemore's 39 doubles, and he became the first player in franchise history to reach 30 in all three categories in the same year.
2008 Silver Sluggers
|C||Joe Mauer, MIN|
|1B||Justin Morneau, MIN|
|2B||Dustin Pedroia, BOS|
|3B||Alex Rodriguez, NYY|
|SS||Derek Jeter, NYY|
|OF||Josh Hamilton, TEX|
|OF||Carlos Quentin, CWS|
|OF||Grady Sizemore, CLE|
|DH||Aubrey Huff, BAL|
|C||Brian McCann, ATL|
|1B||Albert Pujols, STL|
|2B||Chase Utley, PHI|
|3B||David Wright, NYM|
|SS||Hanley Ramirez, FLA|
|OF||Ryan Braun, MIL|
|OF||Matt Holliday, COL|
|OF||Ryan Ludwick, STL|
|P||Carlos Zambrano, CHC|
All three categories were career highs for Sizemore, who has shown offensive improvement in one aspect or another every year since breaking into the Majors in 2004. He had at least 22 home runs in each of his previous three big league seasons but had never cracked the 30-homer mark. Not only did Sizemore top his previous high in steals, but he did so while being caught just five times, good for an 88 percent success rate.
Those contributions atop the order helped fuel a Cleveland offense that scored 805 runs, just six under its 2007 total, despite missing key sluggers Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner for large parts of the season. Sizemore topped 100 runs scored for the fourth straight year.
"You know [Sizemore's] always going to show," Wedge said. "You know he's always going to get after it. Nothing is going to stand in his way of getting better."
Only Baltimore's Aubrey Huff had more extra-base hits than Sizemore's 77. Sizemore also finished third with 98 walks, fifth in stolen bases and sixth in both home runs and total bases.
No Indians player had won a Silver Slugger Award since Martinez tied for the nod at catcher in 2004. The last Indians outfielder to win one was Juan Gonzalez in 2001. The 26-year-old Sizemore is also Cleveland's youngest Silver Slugger Award winner since Jim Thome in 1996.
The specially designed Silver Slugger Award will be presented to each player by a representative of the Hillerich & Bradsby Co., makers of Louisville Slugger, the official bat of Major League Baseball, in a ceremony early in the 2009 season. The trophy is three feet tall and bears the engraved name of the winner and his Silver Slugger teammates in his respective league. The Silver Slugger Award was instituted by H&B in 1980.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.