The annual Silver Slugger awards are being announced tonight and while Orioles outfielder Adam Jones has a shot at winning the honor for the first time in his career, it looks like the Orioles will come away empty handed.
Jones, who won his second career Gold Glove earlier this month and was named Most Valuable Oriole for the second straight season after a breakout 2012 campaign, figures to be a dark horse for the award. He ranks just 10th in the AL in home runs (32) and his .287 average, 87 RBIs and slugging percentage (.505) don’t rank among the league’s top 10.
And unlike the Gold Glove award, the Silver Slugger is still awarded to the top outfielders regardless of specific outfield position. Last season, the Gold Glove began giving awards at specific outfield positions and Jones won this season as a center fielder.
One statistic, however, could favor Jones with the Silver Slugger. He ranks fifth in the AL in offensive wins above replacement (WAR) -- a stat that rates a player's offensive value -- with 5.2, second highest among outfielders to league leader Mike Trout (10.7).
Last season, the top three AL outfielders in offensive WAR -- Jose Bautista (8.0), Jacoby Ellsbury (7.4) and Curtis Granderson (6.0) -- all won Silver Slugger awards.
And if other offensive categories come into play -- Jones was fourth in the AL in total bases (327), fifth in runs (103), seventh in hits (186) and eighth in doubles (39) -- he is worth the award.
Having said that, Trout and Josh Hamilton have to be two of the three outfield selections. That’s easy.
That leaves one spot. And the Silver Slugger is heavily based on run production. So it would be difficult to edge Twins outfielder Josh Williingham, who was tied for third in the AL with 110 RBIs and seventh in homers (35).
No Orioles player has won the award since 2008, when designated hitter Aubrey Huff won the award. Cal Ripken, Jr. won eight Silver Slugger awards during his career -- all at shortstop -- the most by any Orioles player.
This year’s awards will be announced tonight on MLB Network at 6 p.m.