At age 37, Cruz was the Mariners' most productive hitter this past season, hitting .285 with a .924 OPS, 39 homers and 119 RBI in 155 games.
The Mariners’ best hitter in 2017 picked up some deserved honors on Thursday. Designated hitter Nelson Cruz received the Silver Slugger Award for designated hitter. It’s the second time he’s received the honor. The previous time came in 2015. The winners were announced on MLB Network.
The awards, which are sponsored by Louisville Slugger, are voted on by managers and coaches around Major League Baseball. Per the press release, they select the players that are “the best offensive producers at each position in the American and National Leagues. Selections are based on a combination of offensive statistics, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, as well as the managers’ and coaches’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value. Tabulation of the balloting is verified by the accounting firm of Mountjoy Chilton Medley LLP.”
Each winner will receive a silver bat engraved with their name.
Cruz, who turned 37 on July 1, hit .285 (160 for 556) with a .924 on-base plus slugging percentage, 91 runs scored, 28 doubles, 39 homers and 119 RBI in 155 games. Despite the penalty of playing most of his games at DH used in the metric, Cruz posted the highest Wins Above Replacement (WAR) from Baseball Reference (4.1) and Fangraphs (3.8) on the Mariners.
The 119 RBI was the most in the American League. He became the first Mariners hitter to lead the AL in RBI since Bret Boone in 2001 (141) and the fourth Mariners hitter to achieve the feat, joining Boone, Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997 (147) and Edgar Martinez in 2000 (145).
Starting the season at age 36, he’s the second-oldest player to lead the league outright in RBIs behind Martinez, who was 37 in 2000.
Cruz had 50 hits with runners in scoring position, which was second most in the American League, trailing only teammate Robinson Canó (51). He tied for second most go-ahead RBI in the AL with 29 with Anaheim’s Albert Pujols. Only Oakland’s Khris Davis had more with 31.
He had three walk-off hits this season: April 16 vs. Texas (single), July 22 vs. New York-AL (single) and September 22 vs. Cleveland (home run). It was the fifth walk-off homer of his career. The three walk-off hits tied a club record held by eight other players.
Cruz got off to a miserable start: In the first 18 games of 2017, he hit .246 (16 for 65) with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs. From April 22 to May 25, he hit .330 (32 for 97) with four doubles, 10 home runs, 32 RBI, 13 walks and a 1.079 OPS in 28 games. That stretch included a 15-game hitting streak from April 19 – May 6. During the streak, he hit .439 (25 for 57) with five doubles, five home runs, 20 RBI, 10 walks and a 1.297 OPS.