Sunday, November 12, 2006

Silver Duo

Derek Jeter's romp through postseason awards continued on Friday, as the Yankees' shortstop earned the first Silver Slugger Award of his career.
Jeter had some company on this one, though, as Robinson Cano picked up a Silver Slugger of his own as the American League's top hitting second baseman.

Jeter, who is a front-runner for the AL Most Valuable Player Award, has also picked up the AL Hank Aaron Award and his third consecutive Gold Glove this offseason.

Jeter ranked second in the American League with a .343 batting average and 118 runs scored, fourth with a .417 on-base percentage and sixth with 34 stolen bases. Jeter also hit 14 home runs and drove in 97 runs out of the No. 2 spot in New York's lineup.

"The consistency that I noticed, beyond his statistics, is the fact that he comes here with the same intensity every day," Yankees manager Joe Torre said in September.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jeter became just the fifth player in the past 75 seasons to hit .340 or higher, drive in at least 90 runs and steal 30 or more bases in the same season. The others were Larry Walker (1997), Ellis Burks (1996), Willie Mays (1958) and Jackie Robinson (1949).

"I think sometimes people lose sight when they talk about baseball players, that hitting home runs makes them great, and if you don't hit home runs, then you're not," Jeter said in September. "Home runs get all the highlights -- you see them on 'SportsCenter' and all that. But there's more to the game than just home runs."

Cano followed up his impressive rookie season of 2005 with an even better year in 2006. Cano, who turned 24 on Oct. 22, hit .342 for the year, finishing third in the AL bating race behind Minnesota's Joe Mauer and Jeter. Cano hit 15 home runs and drove in 78 runs, despite missing six weeks with a hamstring injury.

Louisville Slugger's Silver Slugger Award winners were determined by a vote of Major League Baseball coaches and managers. The voters selected the players they felt were the best offensive producers at each position in both the American and National League in 2006.

Selections were 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.

The 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 2006 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 as a natural extension of the Silver Bat Award which is, as its name indicates, a silver-plated bat presented by Louisville Slugger to the batting champions in the AL and NL.

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