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Big Z takes home third Silver Slugger

Big Z wins third Silver Slugger

Carlos Zambrano's batting average came back to Earth, but he didn't stop slugging.

Zambrano was named the National League's top hitting pitcher for the second consecutive season and the third time in his career, joining eight other National Leaguers honored Tuesday with Silver Slugger Awards. Never mind that Zambrano didn't match his .337 average from 2008 -- he batted .217 in 2009 -- but he slugged four home runs and drove in 11, enough to prevail in a vote of Major League coaches and managers.

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The specially designed Silver Slugger 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 2010 season. The trophy is three feet tall and bears the engraved name of the winner and his Silver Slugger teammates in his respective league.

Zambrano edged Cincinnati's Micah Owings (.259, 3 HRs, 10 RBIs, .818 OPS), Florida's Josh Johnson (3 HRs, 10 RBIs) and the Dodgers' Randy Wolf (11 RBIs) to win the award for the second consecutive season. Zambrano also won a Silver Slugger in 2006.

NL SILVER SLUGGER AWARDS
POS PLAYER HR RBI AVG
1B Albert Pujols, Cards 47 135 .327
2B Chase Utley, Phillies 31 93 .282
3B R. Zimmerman, Nats 33 106 .292
SS H. Ramirez, Marlins 24 106 .342
OF Ryan Braun, Brewers 32 114 .320
OF Andre Ethier, Dodgers 31 106 .272
OF Matt Kemp, Dodgers 26 101 .297
C Brian McCann, Braves 21 94 .281
P C. Zambrano, Cubs 4 11 .217

Zambrano's three Silver Slugger awards are tied for third most among pitchers with Rick Rhoden and Don Robinson since its inception in 1980. Mike Hampton has earned the honor five times, while Tom Glavine has won the award four times. Zambrano is the first pitcher to earn consecutive honors since Hampton received the award five straight seasons from 1999-2003.

The 28-year-old Zambrano already owns the Cubs' franchise record with 20 career home runs by a pitcher, far surpassing the previous mark of 13 by Fergie Jenkins. Zambrano has 47 career extra-base hits, second-most by a pitcher in club annals, trailing only Charlie Root's 64 extra-base hits from 1926-41.

Adam McCalvy 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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