Top offensive performers among enhanced metrics leaders
By Paul Casella
Some of the best hitters across Major League Baseball were honored with Silver Slugger Awards on Thursday night.
The annual awards, presented by Louisville Slugger, are given to the top hitter at each position in both leagues, as voted on by coaches and managers. As the top hitters in the game, it should come as no surprise that many of the 18 winners were responsible for some of the longest and hardest-hit baseballs this season.
It wasn't just individual plays, however, as many of this year's Silver Slugger winners also checked in atop various Statcast™ leaderboards. Here's a look at 10 interesting facts and figures, courtesy of Statcast™, surrounding this year's winners.
• Miguel Cabrera led all players (minimum 200 balls in play) with an average exit velocity of 95.1 mph. Making that all the more impressive is the fact that Cabrera was responsible for only four of the top 500 individual exit velocities this season. By comparison, Jose Bautista -- whose 94.6 mph average exit velocity was the second-highest -- recorded 10 of the top 500 exit velocities.
• Mike Trout registered career highs in in home runs (41), slugging percentage (.590) and OPS (.991) this past season, thanks in part to his superb average exit velocity of 94 mph. Among players to put at least 300 balls in play, only three -- Cabrera, Bautista and David Ortiz -- recorded a higher average exit velocity. Trout's highest personal exit velocity came all the way back on April 18, when he scorched a 117.7-mph grounder through the left side for a single off Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma. The only players to hit a ball harder than 117.7 mph at any point this year were Giancarlo Stanton and Nelson Cruz.
• Overall, four of the top six average exit velocities among players with at least 300 balls in play belong to Silver Slugger winners. Along with Cabrera finishing first and Trout fourth, Josh Donaldson (93.8 mph) checked in fifth and Cruz (93.8 mph) was sixth.
• Speaking of Cruz, he provided one of the most majestic home runs of 2015, clobbering a projected 483-foot blast off left-hander Wandy Rodriguez on April 29. The upper-deck shot landed in the "club level" at Globe Life Park in Arlington and finished the year as the fourth-longest home run in the Majors.
• Strangely enough, Cruz also had the fourth-hardest hit ball of the year, though that one came on June 23 when he roped a 119-mph single -- also against the Rangers. The only player to hit a ball harder than Cruz this year was Stanton, who accounted for each of this season's three highest exit velocities.
• Donaldson, meanwhile, clubbed a career-high 41 home runs in 2015, but one stood out above the rest. That particular shot came all the way back on April 23, when Donaldson teed off for a projected 481-foot moonshot off O's right-hander Chris Tillman. The towering home run, which ricocheted off the facade above the second deck and back on to the field at Rogers Centre, held up as the fifth-longest home run hit across the Majors this season.
• D-backs slugger Paul Goldschmidt brought home a Silver Slugger as one of only two players to finish in the top 10 in both average exit velocity and average total hit distance. He logged an average exit velocity of 93.5 mph, ninth-highest among players with at least 200 balls in play, while his average distance of 248 feet was the sixth-best in the Majors. To put that in perspective, Bautista was the only other player to finish in the top 10 in both categories.
• Despite a slow start, Carlos Gonzalez caught fire after June 1 en route to finishing with a career-high 40 home runs. Along the way, Gonzalez had six batted balls tracked by Statcast™ with an exit velocity of at least 115 mph in 2015, second-most in the Majors behind only Stanton (18).
• Brian McCann also posted a personal-best when it came to home runs (26), helping him earn his sixth Silver Slugger Award. McCann logged an average exit velocity of 91.1 mph, placing him second among catchers (min. 300 balls in play), behind only Washington's Wilson Ramos (91.7 mph).
• Finally, Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner won his second straight Silver Slugger Award. In just 81 plate appearances, Bumgarner hit two balls 110.5 mph or faster, which is one more than he allowed over his 218 1/3 innings on the mound.
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.