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It's silver and gold for talented quartet

It's silver and gold for talented quartet

At the plate as well as in the field, the quartet of Joe Mauer, Dustin Pedroia, Grady Sizemore and David Wright can always find a way to help win a ballgame.

Silver Slugger winners this week, Gold Glove winners last week. For Mauer, Pedroia, Sizemore and Wright, it's time to clear another place on the mantel for some shiny hardware.

That foursome highlighted the 2008 Silver Slugger Award announcements on Thursday as offensive stars from both the American League and National League were saluted.

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The Silver Sluggers, which have been given annually since 1980 to the best offensive player at each position, were selected by Major League Baseball managers and coaches. The managers and coaches were not allowed to vote for a player on their team.

In addition to Mauer at catcher, Pedroia at second base and Sizemore in the outfield, the remainder of the AL selections were first baseman Justin Morneau, third baseman Alex Rodriguez, shortstop Derek Jeter, outfielders Josh Hamilton and Carlos Quentin and designated hitter Aubrey Huff.

Joining third baseman Wright on the NL squad were catcher Brian McCann, first baseman Albert Pujols, second baseman Chase Utley, shortstop Hanley Ramirez, outfielders Ryan Ludwick, Matt Holliday and Ryan Braun and pitcher Carlos Zambrano.

Wright was chosen as a Silver Slugger for the second consecutive year. He established career highs for the Mets in runs (115), RBIs (124) and home runs (33).

"It's a very prestigious award, and I am proud to win it, considering the people who vote for the award," Wright said. "This honor will help motivate me to have an even better season in 2009."

McCann came up big for the Braves again in 2008 by leading all NL catchers with a .301 batting average, a .523 slugging percentage and an .896 OPS. It was the second Silver Slugger for McCann.

Zambrano, who anchored the Cubs' starting rotation as Chicago zoomed to an NL Central title, helped himself at the plate by hitting .337 with four homers. Zambrano, who also won a Silver Slugger in 2006, became the first MLB pitcher to have an RBI in eight consecutive starts, doing so from July 19-Aug. 26.

2008 Silver Sluggers
AMERICAN LEAGUE AL
 C Joe Mauer, MIN
1B Justin Morneau, MIN
2B Dustin Pedroia, BOS
3B Alex Rodriguez, NYY
SS Derek Jeter, NYY
OF Josh Hamilton, TEX
OF Carlos Quentin, CWS
OF Grady Sizemore, CLE
DH Aubrey Huff, BAL
NATIONAL LEAGUE NL
C Brian McCann, ATL
1B Albert Pujols, STL
2B Chase Utley, PHI
3B David Wright, NYM
SS Hanley Ramirez, FLA
OF Ryan Braun, MIL
OF Matt Holliday, COL
OF Ryan Ludwick, STL
P Carlos Zambrano, CHC

The Cardinals were the only NL team with more than one Silver Slugger winner.

Pujols hit .357 with a career-best .462 on-base percentage. He slugged .653, hit 37 homers, drove in 116 and scored 100 runs. Pujols drew 104 walks, marking the first time he has reached triple figures in that category.

Ludwick hit .299 in his first full MLB season and matched Pujols for the Cards' team lead with 37 homers. Ludwick had 113 RBIs and scored a team-high 104 runs.

Utley captured his third straight Silver Slugger for the World Series champion Phillies. He led all NL second basemen in hits (177), runs (113), RBIs (104), on-base percentage (.380), slugging percentage (.583) and extra-base hits (78). His 33 homers were the highest total for a second baseman in the Majors.

"He's a special player," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said during the season. "I never worry about him [when he's struggling] because I know he's always going to come out of it."

Ramirez paced NL shortstops in homers (33) and slugging percentage (.540). The Florida standout hit .301 and led the Majors with 125 runs scored. Ramirez also stole 35 bases.

"With a guy like Hanley, he could conceivably win this award every year," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Braun helped the Brewers reached the playoffs by hitting .285 with 37 homers and 106 RBIs. The numbers might have been even greater had it not been for a back injury which Braun played with over the final six weeks of the regular season.

Holliday, traded by the Rockies to the A's this week, hit .321 for Colorado in 2008. He had a .409 on-base percentage, 25 homers and 88 RBIs.

In the AL, Mauer got the nod at catcher by leading the league in hitting at .328. The Twins' standout became just the second catcher to have won two batting titles. He also led the league in 2006 when he hit .347.

Morneau also contributed greatly to the Twins' cause while earning the Silver Slugger honor at first base. Morneau hit .300 with 47 doubles, 23 homers and 129 RBIs, which ranked as the second most in the American League. Morneau's 47 doubles led the AL.

Pedroia tied Ichiro Suzuki for the AL lead in hits (213) and finished second to Mauer with a .326 batting average.

Pedroia's 118 runs and 54 doubles led the league. The Red Sox second baseman also contributed a dose of power and speed with 18 homers and 20 stolen bases.

"The guy carried this team from, I would say, since Day 1 all the way to the end," Boston's David Ortiz said of Pedroia.

The left side of the AL infield belonged to the Yankees.

Jeter hit .300 in 150 games. It marked the fourth consecutive season in which he reached that plateau. It was the third consecutive Silver Slugger for the Yankees' veteran shortstop.

Rodriguez earned the nod at third base based thanks to his .302 batting average, 35 homers and 103 RBIs. Rodriguez has hit at least 35 homers in 11 consecutive seasons. He now has 10 Silver Slugger Awards.

Sizemore became the first Indians player in four years to win a Silver Slugger. With 33 homers and 38 stolen bases, he was the AL's only 30-30 player and the first Indians player to accomplish the feat since Joe Carter in 1987.

Hamilton hit .304 with 32 homers and a league-leading 130 RBIs for the Rangers. He's the first Rangers outfielder to win a Silver Slugger since Juan Gonzalez in 1998.

Quentin helped boost the White Sox to the postseason by hitting .288 with 36 homers and 100 RBIs before being sidelined in September with a wrist injury.

Huff ended Ortiz's run of four consecutive Silver Sluggers as the American League DH. Huff finished with a .304 batting average, 32 homers and 108 RBIs. He had 182 hits, his highest total since 2003.

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.

The specially designed Silver Slugger will be presented to each player by a representative of the Hillerich and Bradsby Co., makers of Louisville Slugger, the official bat of Major League Baseball, in a ceremony early in the 2009 season.

The trophy is three feet tall and bears the engraved name of the winner and his Silver Slugger teammates in his respective league.

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

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