Righty Owings notches Silver Slugger

Righty Owings notches Silver Slugger

PHOENIX -- Micah Owings had his share of success on the mound in 2007, but his work with the bat received the most attention.

That's what happens when a pitcher smacks two home runs in a game during one start and ties a franchise record with three doubles in another.

On Friday, Owings was rewarded for his offensive prowess when he was named a winner of Louisville Slugger's Silver Slugger Award. The right-hander became just the second D-backs player to capture the award, joining outfielder Luis Gonzalez, who won one after his 57-homer 2001 season.

"I just take great honor in it," Owings said of receiving the award. "It's very humbling. I've been blessed. It's something I've worked hard at my whole life, and it's something that I will definitely treasure."

Of course it is -- when you swing the bat like Owings. He hit .333 (20-for-60) with four homers and 15 RBIs while going 8-8 with a 4.30 ERA on the mound for Arizona.

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 2007. 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 team.

That's assuredly the only reason Owings didn't receive Bob Melvin's vote. The Arizona manager, who used Owings as a pinch-hitter six times during the regular season and once in the postseason, couldn't say enough about the rookie's hitting.

"He's a true hitter that can impact a game on both sides of the ball," Melvin said. "A pitcher that can handle the bat, get some hits and bunt is valuable. To get power and production from a pitcher is a rarity."

Owings, who won the No. 5 spot in the rotation, was a standout hitter in college as a two-way player first at Georgia Tech and later at Tulane. The D-backs knew he could hit, but he took things to another level on Aug. 18 in Atlanta.

That night, in front of a large contingent of family and friends, Owings, the Gainesville, Ga., native, went 4-for-5 with a pair of homers, a double, four runs scored and six RBIs. On the mound, he allowed three runs over seven innings to pick up the win.

"The guy went out there, attacked the guys, was aggressive and made them put the ball in play," D-backs catcher Chris Snyder said after the game. "Him swinging it? There ain't nothing I can say about that. It's just unbelievable."

2007 Silver Slugger winners
AMERICAN LEAGUE AL
 C Jorge Posada, NYY
1B Carlos Pena, TB
2B Placido Polanco, DET
3B Alex Rodriguez, NYY
SS Derek Jeter, NYY
OF Vladimir Guerrero, LAA
OF Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
OF Magglio Ordonez, DET
DH David Ortiz, BOS
NATIONAL LEAGUE NL
C Russell Martin, LAD
1B Prince Fielder, MIL
2B Chase Utley, PHI
3B David Wright, NYM
SS Jimmy Rollins, PHI
OF Carlos Beltran, NYM
OF Matt Holliday, COL
OF Carlos Lee, HOU
P Micah Owings, ARI

Said Owings, "Since I've been home, you'd be surprised how many times I've heard about it from people who were watching it. A lot of them say they are hardcore Braves fans except for that night when I played against them then they were cheering for me."

Owings also made history on Sept. 27 in Pittsburgh. Told just a few hours before the game that he would be starting, Owings tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings for what proved to be a crucial win for Arizona. At the plate that day, he was 4-for-4 with three doubles and three RBIs, as he became the first pitcher since the Yankees' Whitey Ford in 1963 to collect two four-hit games in a season.

"Micah's offense is a joke," outfielder Eric Byrnes said after that game. "He takes BP twice a week and steps up and rakes big league pitching. It seems like he's on top of everything. It's fun to watch."

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 2008 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. This year's Silver Bat Award winners are Colorado's Matt Holliday and Detroit's Magglio Ordonez. Holliday hit .340 to win the NL batting title. Ordonez led the Major Leagues in batting with a .363 average and claimed the AL honor. Both will receive their Silver Bat Awards in on-field presentations early in the 2008 season.

Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano won the award in 2006.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.