Baseball

2021 Silver Slugger Awards: American League Predictions

|
Image for 2021 Silver Slugger Awards: American League Predictions

Who in the American League will win Silver Slugger Awards in 2021? Every team hopes to have an electric offense to help the team to the playoffs, but only nine players in each league can lift a Silver Slugger Award in a given year.

Silver Slugger Awards: AL Predictions

Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

While he has been an inconsistent offensive player with the Kansas City Royals in recent years, Salvador Perez put all the pieces together for a dominant 2020 season. While it was only a 37-game sample size, Perez mashed for a slash line of .333/.353/.633.

His .986 OPS was 152 points higher than any other season in his career. Perez’s OPS+ of 160 was 32 points higher than any other season in his career. He clobbered 23 extra-base hits, including 11 home runs, to slug above .500 for the first time in his career. Even if Perez regresses slightly, he will have gargantuan offensive numbers for a catcher.

Salvador Perez will look to secure the 2021 American League Silver Slugger, his fourth.

Previous Silver Slugger Awards: 2016, 2018, 2020 (AL)

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays

This is a projection more than any other player on the list. In his first 757 plate appearances, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has slashed .269/.336/.442 for am OPS hovering around .785 and 109 OPS+. So where is the Silver Slugger Award talent?

Guerrero was in the top seven percent of baseball in exit velocity and hard-hit percentage in 2020. He had the hardest-hit ball of 2019. If Guerrero can turn these rockets from grounders to line drives, he will be a premier hitter in baseball. His 54.6% ground ball percentage in 2020 will almost certainly decrease in 2021.

At the worst, expect Guerrero to have a season hovering around .280/.350/.500.

Can Vladimir Guerrero Jr. secure the 2021 American League Silver Slugger for first basemen?

Previous Silver Slugger Awards: None

Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays

A 2019 All-Star, Brandon Lowe has been a terrific hitter since his debut. He has a career 131 OPS+, and his .511 slugging percentage is impressive for a second basemen. He strikes out more than you might like, but he increased his walk rate from 7.7% to 11.2% from 2019 to 2020. When he does connect, it is almost certain to be in the air and hit well. For his career, Lowe has an average exit velocity of 90.8 miles per hour, nearly two miles per hour better than the average hitter. 47.1% of his batted balls are hard-hit (league average is 39.2%).

DJ LeMahieu will be hard to top, but a second season with an OPS over .900 could put Lowe in the driver’s sea if LeMahieu does not match his 1.011 from 2020.

Previous Silver Slugger Awards: None

Alex Bregman, Houston Astros

Trash cans or no trash cans, Alex Bregman hurts baseballs. Bregman has a career .284/.382/.525 slash line with a .907 OPS and 143 OPS+. Bregman is a solid bet for a .950 OPS. Bregman led the Majors in walks in 2019, and even if he does not replicate that 17.3% walk rate, he has been above 13% in 2018 and 2020. He has a pair of seasons with 80-plus extra-base hits, and his 83 extra-base hits in 2018 were second in the American League. Bregman led the American League in WAR in 2019, and he could do so again for a talented Houston Astros team in 2021.

Previous Silver Slugger Awards: 2019 (AL)

Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays

As the time of writing, Bo Bichette has played in 77 MLB games. In these games, he has 45 extra-base hits, and a career .302/.341/.538 slash line. With a strong 134 OPS+ as a shortstop, Bichette will be in play for a 2021 American League Silver Slugger Award. While the sample size is small, the talent is glaring. Bichette hits the ball harder than the average player, and he turns those hard-hit balls into line-drives. While he has a strikeout rate above 20% and a career walk rate of just 5.5%, these numbers can trend in the right direction with experience.

Expect Bichette to be a catalyst for a Toronto Blue Jays team that will contend for a 2021 American League wild-card spot, even if the New York Yankees beat them to win the 2021 American League East division crown.

Previous Silver Slugger Awards: None

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Mike Trout will win one of the outfield slots for the 2021 American League Silver Slugger roster.

The best player in baseball, Mike Trout is a shoo-in to win his ninth Silver Slugger Award. The three-time AL MVP has a career OPS of 1.000 and OPS+ of 175. For his career, he ranks in the top 20 for on-base percentage and top 10 for slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+.

Trout’s worst full season, 2012, saw him lead the American League in OPS+ and finish second in MVP voting. He has led the AL in OPS+ on five other occasions. He has led the AL in on-base percentage four times, slugging percentage thrice, and OPS four times. Trout has a pair of 40-homer seasons, and his home run rate in 2019 and 2020 exceeded 7.1%.

Congratulations (prematurely) on yet another dominant season.

Previous Silver Slugger Awards: 2012-2016, 2018-2020 (AL)

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

When Aaron Judge is on the field, few in baseball hit as well as he does. In the one season that Judge played 120 games (2017), he led the American League in WAR, runs scored, walks, and runs created. His 171 OPS+ finished second to Trout. Judge posted a ridiculous 1.049 OPS, a mark that has been topped only 56 times among those with as many plate appearances as Judge had in 2017. The strikeout numbers are gaudy, but Judge walks nearly twice as often as the average hitter, and his 6.5% home run rate also laps the field.

For his career, Judge has an average exit velocity of 95.5 miles per hour, seven miles per hour faster than the average hitter. He has a 57.3% hard hit rate, nearly 20 percentage points higher than the average hitter.

Judge does have injury concerns, but he is as productive as any hitter in baseball when he is on the field.

Previous Silver Slugger Awards: 2017 (AL)

Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros

As of this writing, Kyle Tucker has played 111 MLB games. He has just 14 home runs, and he only has a career .755 OPS.

So why is he here? Simple, it’s because of how he projects to do.

In 2019 and 2020, Tucker combined to slash .268/.323/.518. He had an OPS+ of 122 in that stretch. While it is not elite by any means, Tucker can improve in 2021. He will be an everyday right fielder for the Astros, helping his pure counting stats.

In line with most of the other 2021 American League Silver Slugger picks, Tucker mashes the baseball. His average exit velocity is 2.5 miles per hour above the average. Similarly, his hard-hit rate is six percentage points above the average. In 2019 and 2020, Tucker had a line-drive rate above 30%.

Tucker has stiff competition with 2020 Silver Slugger Teoscar Hernandez, Alex Verdugo, and former teammate George Springer as the main adversaries. Expect Tucker to beat out the competition and earn his first Silver Slugger.

Previous Silver Slugger Awards: None

Nelson Cruz, Minnesota Twins

While Nelson Cruz will celebrate his 41st birthday in July, he should continue to demolish baseballs in 2021. Since joining the Minnesota Twins in 2019, Cruz has ascended to a different level of hitting. In 175 games, Cruz has bashed 57 home runs and 32 doubles, slashing .309/.393/.626 for a ridiculous 1.019 OPS and 170 OPS+.

Cruz has been in the top-10 for MVP voting both seasons, and he has won his third and fourth Silver Sluggers. The recipe is simple. Cruz hits home runs twice as often as his peers, twice eclipsing 7.5%. He walks more often than the average hitter, surpassing 10.8% in three of the last four seasons. Additionally, Cruz clobbers the baseball. His average exit velocity since 2015 is 5.9 miles per hour faster than the league average.

Yordan Alvarez offers the main competition, but expect Cruz to fend off Alvarez and earn the 2021 American League Silver Slugger for designated hitters.

Previous Silver Slugger Awards: 2015 (as an outfielder), 2017, 2019-2020 (AL)


Follow me on Twitter at @MrSplashMan19 for more of my 2021 American League content! Don’t forget to join our OT Heroics MLB Facebook group, and feel free to join our new Instagram – @overtimeheroics_MLB, and listen to our baseball podcast, Cheap Seat Chatter! We’ll see ya there!

Come join the discussion made by the fans at the Overtime Heroics forums! A place for all sports!

main image credit

main image credit Embed from Getty Images

Share this article

Ryan Potts is an avid football and baseball fan. He covers the NFL and Major League Baseball, focusing on the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Braves.