When the Atlanta Braves engineered a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks to bring slugging outfielder Justin Upton (Chesapeake) to the east coast before the 2013 season, it was partly to reunite him with his brother BJ, and also to add a potent bat to a solid Braves lineup.
In 2013, Upton hit .263 with 27 HR and 70 RBIs. In the just completed 2014 season, Upton upped those numbers. he hit .270 with 29 HR and a career high 102 RBIs. He was 4th in the NL in HR, 3rd in RBIs, and his slugging percentage of .491 was 8th in the National League.
Upton’s 2014 exploits were rewarded Thursday when he was named a Silver Slugger. This was his second SS award, winning his first in 2011 with Arizona.
Since joining the Pirates lineup at the tailend of the 2009 season and for good in 2010, 2B Neil Walker (Lynchburg, 2005-2006) has been a mainstay. Known more for his defense then anything, Walker occasionally had flashes with the bat. In each of his first two full seasons, he hit 12 HRs and then improved to 14 and 16.
In 2014, he broke through in a big way, hitting a career high 23 HR and driving in 76. he hit .271 with a career high .467 Slugging percentage, all of which helped the Pirates get to the playoffs for the second straight year after no postseason baseball in the Steel City for over 20 years.
Walker’s exploits did not go unnoticed by the rest of baseball, as he took home his first Silver Slugger award.
The MLB awards season is in full swing, as the 2014 Silver Slugger awards were presented yesterday. Taking home the honors for their respective positions are a pair of hitters who were instrumental to the success of the 2014 Washington Nationals, who won their second division title in three seasons. Both also passed through the Northern Virginia suburbs of their major league employers.
SS Ian Desmond (Potomac, 2005-2007) took home the honors for his position. he batted .255, but hit 24 homers, one off his career high, and did set a personal best with 91 RBIs, which was 7th in the NL. He also showed his prowess on the base paths, as his 82.76% stolen base rate was 10th best in all of the NL. This was the third straight Silver Slugger award for Desmond, and he becomes the first NL SS to win three straight since HOF SS Barry Larkin won 5 in a row from 1988-1992.
3B Anthony Rendon (Potomac, 2012) took home his first Silver Slugger award, just two years after playing in Woodbridge. The 24-yr old Rendon had his first full season in the major leagues, and wowed Nationals nation. He batted .287 with 21 HR and 83 RBIs, and led the NL with 111 runs scored. His 66 extra-base hits and 176 total hits were each 5th-best in the NL. He had a 6.5 WAR, good for 4th in the NL. Rendon established himself as a major presence in the Nationals lineup, so much so that it will allow Washington to move Ryan Zimmerman to 1B and allow Adam LaRoche to depart via free agency.
Ian Desmond. Anthony Rendon. Past Potomac Nationals. Future infield of the Washington Nationals. And now, Silver Sluggers.