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Silver Slugger Awards honor 2012 top hitters

Silver Slugger Awards honor 2012 top hitters

Silver Slugger Awards honor 2012 top hitters

Baseball's postseason hardware continued to be handed out Thursday, as the American League and National League distributed Silver Slugger Awards to the best offensive players at each position live on MLB Network.

Eleven players were first-time honorees, including seven of the nine NL sluggers. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun each won their fifth Silver Sluggers Awards, with Braun's coming in succession.

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The Nationals led all of baseball with three Silver Slugger Award winners: first baseman Adam LaRoche, shortstop Ian Desmond and right-hander Stephen Strasburg, all of whom were first-timers.

The Silver Slugger, which was first awarded in 1980, is voted on by coaches and managers from both leagues, and voters are prohibited from rewarding players on their own team.

The first-time NL winners were led by Giants catcher Buster Posey, the NL MVP Award favorite who posted a Major League-high .336 batting average. Three other NL MVP finalists were awarded: Padres third baseman Chase Headley, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen and Braun. Headley led the NL with 115 RBIs, McCutchen led the league with 194 hits and Braun posted an NL-high 41 home runs.

Reds right fielder Jay Bruce also earned his first Silver Slugger Award for hitting 34 homers and 99 RBIs, while D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill earned his second career Silver Slugger after hitting .302 with 26 home runs.

In the AL, MVP favorites Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout each were honored. The Tigers third baseman, who won the Triple Crown by leading the AL in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and RBIs (139), earned his fourth career award. The Angels center fielder was awarded in a rookie season that saw him lead the Majors with 129 runs and 49 stolen bases while also hitting .326 with 30 homers.

Cabrera's teammate, Prince Fielder, earned the first base award in his first season in the AL after winning two times previously in the NL. The longtime power hitter hit a career-high .313 this season.

Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton earned his third Silver Slugger Award after hitting .285 with a career-high 43 home runs, while Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano was honored for the third straight season and fourth overall.

The rest of the AL honorees consisted of first-time winners. White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski was honored after hitting .278 with a career-high 27 home runs, while Twins outfielder Josh Willingham's 35 home runs and 110 RBIs in spacious Target Field earned him his first MLB award of any kind.

Kansas City's Billy Butler earned designated hitter honors for hitting .313 with 29 home runs and 107 RBIs.

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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