All year long, they went deep and they found the gaps, and baseball's best batsmen of 2013 connected one more time on Wednesday night, collecting The Silver Slugger Awards for their offensive performances this season.
With the Yankees' Robinson Cano picking up a fourth consecutive silver bat and slugging first basemen Chris Davis of the Orioles and Paul Goldschmidt of the D-backs among nine first-time winners, all 18 honorees brought the offensive firepower in the regular season.
Six repeat winners from 2012 included Cano, Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, Reds outfielder Jay Bruce and Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond.
As for the nine first-time winners, Davis and Goldschmidt lead the way, joined by Orioles outfielder Adam Jones and shortstop J.J. Hardy, Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter and catcher Yadier Molina, Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer and Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke.
In addition, Goldschmidt, Hardy and Molina each achieved a shiny double this awards season, adding silver bats to the Gold Glove Awards each received last week.
Silver Sluggers, presented by Louisville Slugger, are awarded annually to the best offensive players at each position in each league. Voting was conducted by Major League managers and coaches, using batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage as key statistics. Voters could not include players from their own team on their ballots.
What came out of all that was a roster of the game's finest craftsmen when it comes to swinging the bat. The Orioles had a franchise-record three honorees, the Tigers, Cardinals and Pirates had two among the 13 teams represented.
In the American League, the three players who are finalists for the Most Valuable Player Award were locks for Silver Sluggers, with Cabrera claiming third base for a second straight season with the fifth in his career, second-year phenom Trout going 2-for-2 in taking an outfield spot and Davis blasting his way to silver at first base.
Cabrera, who also has won Silver Sluggers at first base and outfield, had a season equal to or better than his Triple Crown campaign the year before, Trout pulled his Mr. Everything act again and had a cycle to show for it, and Davis delivered Major League highs in homers with 53 and RBIs with 138.
Cano stands out for his consistency, grabbing a fourth consecutive honor as the best offensive second baseman in the league -- not a bad way to enter his first foray into free agency. Over his last four seasons, he has averaged roughly 194 hits, 29 homers, 98 runs and 107 RBIs.
David Ortiz earned his sixth Silver Slugger for his work at designated hitter -- and that was before he went all historic in winning World Series MVP. Joe Mauer collected silver bat No. 5 at catcher, the first since 2010 for the Minnesota catcher.
At shortstop, Hardy claimed his first award after a season in which he smacked 25 homers, his third straight with 20 or more. His teammate Jones earned his first silver bat with a second straight 30-homer season while bumping up his RBIs to 108. He's joined in the outfield by Trout and Tigers veteran Torii Hunter, who proved a perfect fit in Detroit, collecting his 2,000th hit, his 300th homer and his first Silver Slugger since 2009.
In the National League, there was power on the corners, a lot of extra bases at second and a new and worthy recipient behind the plate.
Goldschmidt at first and Alvarez at third tied for the NL lead in homers with 36, with Goldschmidt also leading the league with 125 RBIs. Alvarez is the first Pirates batter since Willie Stargell in 1973 to at least share the NL homer title.
At second, Carpenter surpassed Stan Musial's best season with 55 doubles and led the Majors with 126 runs scored. Desmond, meanwhile, took the award at shortstop for a second straight year, posting 20 homers and 80 RBIs.
Molina, meanwhile, secured his first silver bat with career highs of 80 RBIs and 44 doubles, all the while maintaining his status as the game's premier catcher.
The NL outfield is led by repeat appearances by McCutchen and Bruce, who both shined in baseball's tightest race -- the NL Central. McCutchen finished strong with a 1.001 OPS the second half of the season, and Bruce had 30 homers to go with a career-high 109 RBIs as both went for back-to-back awards. Cuddyer earned his first silver bat in 13 years in the Majors, knocking out a 27-game hitting streak and securing the NL batting title at .331 with a .385 September.
Greinke, who had showed some prowess at the plate when pitching for Milwaukee previously, was by far the best hitting pitcher for 2013, batting .328 (19-for-58) with three doubles, four RBIs and two steals.
With the Silver Sluggers announcement in the books, the awards season will turn to the Baseball Writers' Association of America's four major honors with announcement shows next week on MLB Network. With three finalists in each category announced earlier this week, Rookie of the Year honors for each league will be revealed Monday, then Manager of the Year on Tuesday, Cy Young on Nov. 13 and MVP on Nov. 14. All announcement shows are set for 6 p.m. ET.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.