How 2018 Silver Sluggers winners fared in Box-Toppers rankings

Here are Silver Slugger Award winners for 2018, given to the top hitter at each position in both leagues, and how each player fared in Box-Toppers points and rankings at their position. Also shown is the Box-Toppers points leader at each position in both leagues.

Silver Slugger winners Box-Toppers points leaders
 AL winners Team BTP Rank* AL leaders Team BTP Rank*
1B Jose Abreu White Sox 5.0 9 Ryon Healy Athletics 7.0 2**
2B Jose Altuve Astros 3.5 7 Rougned Odor Rangers 7.5 1
SS Francisco Lindor Indians 9.6 1 Francisco Lindor Indians 9.6 1
3B Jose Ramirez Indians 6.0 3 Matt Davidson White Sox 8.7 1
CA Salvador Perez Royals 3.0 6 Mitch Garver Twins 7.5 1
OF Mookie Betts Red Sox 10.9 2 J.D. Martinez Red Sox 12.5 1
OF Mike Trout Angels 8.0 3 Mookie Betts Red Sox 10.9 2
OF J.D. Martinez Red Sox 12.5 1 Mike Trout Angels 8.0 3
DH J.D. Martinez Red Sox 12.5 1 Shohei Ohtani Angels 8.0 3**
NL winners Team BTP Rank* NL leaders Team BTP Rank*
1B Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks 7.5 2 Anthony Rizzo Cubs 10.0 1
2B Javier Baez Cubs 10.0 1 Mark Reynolds Nationals 7.5 2**
SS Trevor Story Rockies 6.0 4 Javier Baez Cubs 10.0 1
3B Nolan Arenado Rockies 6.0 6 Eugenio Suarez Reds 7.5 3**
CA J.T. Realmuto Marlins 5.5 2 Wilson Ramos Phillies 6.0 1
OF Christian Yelich Brewers 11.5 1 Christian Yelich Brewers 11.5 1
OF David Peralta Diamondbacks 8.5 3 Ronald Acuña Jr. Braves 9.2 2
OF Nick Markakis Braves 1.0 60 David Peralta Diamondbacks 8.5 3
BTP: Box-Toppers points
Rank*: Shows the players rank among all players in his league at that position. For example, Paul Goldschmidt ranks second among NL first basemen in Box-Toppers points; Anthony Rizzo ranks first.
** While these players ranked second or third at their position in Box-Toppers points, they are deemed the leader because the players ahead of them at their position played two or more positions in 2018. For example, Javier Baez of the Cubs led three categories—NL second basemen, NL shortstop and NL third basemen. He is placed at shortstop to allow the players with the highest possible Box-Toppers point totals rise to lead the other positions—Mark Reynolds of the Nationals at NL second base (he ranks second among NL second basemen) and Eugenio Suarez of the Reds at third base (he ranks third among NL third basemen, behind both Baez and Reynolds).

About half of Silver Slugger Award winners also led their position in Box-Toppers points

Box-Toppers postseason awards.png

About half of the top batters by position as measured by Box-Toppers points are among Silver Slugger Award winners announced Thursday.

The awards are given to the top batter in each position in both leagues. But as measured by Box-Toppers points, only seven (maybe eight) of the 17 announced winners would have been the same.

The awards are voted on by Major League Baseball coaches and managers. Box-Toppers analyzes traditional box scores and tracks which player most helps his team win the most games, awarding points for the top player in each game.

There were seven (or eight) instances in which voters and Box-Toppers rankings agreed on choices:

  • Francisco Lindor of the Indians led American League shortstops with 9.6 Box-Toppers points.

  • J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox led AL outfielders with 12.5 points.

  • Mookie Betts of the Red Sox ranked second among AL outfielders with 10.9 points, taking one of the three Silver Slugger awards given to AL outfielders.

  • Mike Trout of the Angels ranked third among AL outfielders with 8.0 points, taking one of the three Silver Slugger awards given to AL outfielders.

  • Javier Baez of the Cubs led National League shortstops with 10.0 points. (Baez was awarded the Silver Slugger at the second base position.)

  • Christian Yelich of the Brewers led NL outfielders with 11.5 points.

  • David Peralta of the Diamondbacks ranked third among NL outfielders with 8.5 points, taking one of the three Silver Slugger awards given to NL outfielders.

But there was an eighth instance of a player who won a Silver Slugger who also led his position in Box-Toppers points—but that was only because they awarded J.D. Martinez two Silver Slugger Awards, one for outfield and one for designated hitter.

True, Martinez did lead in Box-Toppers points at both positions. He played 93 games as a designated hitter and 57 games as an outfielder. Of the 10 times he earned Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors in 2018, he did it four times as a designated hitter and six times as an outfielder.

But Box-Toppers, unlike the Silver Slugger voters, places a player at just one position. We put Martinez in the outfield. Box-Toppers’ goal is to advance players with the next-highest Box-Toppers point total to positions in cases like Martinez’s in which a player leads at more than one position. Looking at AL outfielders, the fourth-ranked player at the position is Eddie Rosario of the Twins with 7.5 points. Looking at AL designated hitters, the second-ranked player is Matt Davidson of the White Sox with 8.7 points. But since Davidson is already occupying a position—he is also top player at third base—we go to third place among DHs—and that is Shohei Ohtani of the Angels with 8.0 Box-Toppers points. Because Ohtani has more Box-Toppers points than Rosario (8.0 vs. 7.5), he earns the Box-Toppers Silver Slugger-equivalent at DH. If Rosario had more points than Ohtani, then Martinez would have moved to DH and Rosario would be the third-ranked outfielder.

While Silver Slugger voters gave Martinez two awards, they very well could have given Javier Baez of the Cubs three awards. Baez led in Box-Toppers points (10.0) at NL second base, shortstop and third base, but only won the Silver Slugger at second base. In 2018, Baez played 104 games at second base, 65 games at shortstop and 22 games at third base. He won Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors eight times in 2018—four times at shortstop, three times at second base and three times at third base (he often played multiple positions in a single game).

Box-Toppers placed Baez at shortstop to promote the highest-ranked second-tier players at both second base and third base:

  • Mark Reynolds of the Nationals ranked second among NL second basemen with 7.5 points.

  • Eugenio Suarez of the Reds ranked third among NL third basemen (behind Baez and Reynolds) with 7.5 points.

Here is a position-by-position look at the Silver Slugger winners compared to Box-Toppers leaders:

AL first base: Box-Toppers grade: D

Award-winner Jose Abreu of the White Sox had 5.0 Box-Toppers points and ranked ninth among AL first basemen. While he was only 2.0 points back from the player to whom Box-Toppers would have given the Silver Slugger, Abreu ranked pretty far down the list among AL first base. Box-Toppers would have given the award to Ryon Healy of the Mariners, who ranked second among AL first basemen with 7.0 Box-Toppers points. Matt Davidson of the White Sox led among AL first basemen, but also earned Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors at third base and designated hitter—we place him as Box-Toppers top batter among AL third basemen.

AL second base: Box-Toppers grade: D

Award-winner Jose Altuve of the Astros finished seventh among AL second basemen with 3.5 Box-Toppers points. Rougned Odor of the Rangers led AL second basemen with 7.5 Box-Toppers points.

AL shortstop: Box-Toppers grade: A

Award-winner Francisco Lindor of the Indians also led AL shortstops with 9.6 Box-Toppers points.

AL third base: Box-Toppers grade: B

Award-winner Jose Ramirez of the Indians finished third among AL third basemen with 6.0 Box-Toppers points. Matt Davidson of the White Sox led AL third basemen with 8.7 Box-Toppers points. While Ramirez was 2.7 points behind, he was still in the top three among AL third basemen.

AL catcher: Box-Toppers grade: D

Award-winner Salvador Perez of the Royals ranked sixth among AL catchers with 3.0 points. Mitch Garver of the Twins led AL catchers with 7.5 points. Interestingly, Perez won the award in 2016 when he probably shouldn’t have (with 4.0 points, sixth among AL catchers) and did not win in 2017 when he probably should have (with 7.5 points, first among AL catchers).

AL outfield: Box-Toppers grade: A+

Box-Toppers’ top three AL outfielders won the three Silver Slugger Awards for AL outfielders:

  • J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox ranked first with 12.5 Box-Toppers points.

  • Mookie Betts of the Red Sox ranked second with 10.9.

  • Mike Trout of the Angels ranked third with 8.0.

AL designated hitter: Box-Toppers grade: A

I can’t fault the thinking of Silver Sluggers voters, though I do question their judgment.

Yes, J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox was the top-ranked designated hitter with 12.5 Box-Toppers points. But he already won one as an outfielder. I’m not entirely certain voters can separate in their minds the batting he did as a designated hitter and the batting he did as an outfielder and deem them both worthy of a season-long award. A choice needed to be made here—give Martinez the award as a designated hitter and give the outfield award to someone deserving or give him the award as an outfielder and find another DH to honor. Box-Toppers chose the latter, honoring third-place AL DH Shohei Ohtani of the Angels (8.0 Box-Toppers points). Though that honor is problematic, too, since Ohtani actually earned 4.0 of his 8.0 points for the season as a starting pitcher.

NL first base: Box-Toppers grade: B

Award-winner Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks ranked second among NL first basemen with 7.5 Box-Toppers points. Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs led NL first basemen with 10.0 Box-Toppers points. 

NL second base: Box-Toppers grade: A

Award-winner Javier Baez of the Cubs had 10.0 Box-Toppers points and finished first among NL second basemen. Can’t argue with that, although Baez also finished first among NL shortstops and NL third basemen and Box-Toppers chose to award him as top shortstop, rather than at second base. Box-Toppers deems top NL second baseman to be Mark Reynolds of the Nationals (7.5 Box-Toppers points, second at that position).

NL shortstop: Box-Toppers grade: C

Award-winner Trevor Story of the Rockies ranked fourth among NL shortstops with 6.0 Box-Toppers points. Box-Toppers deems top NL shortstop to be Javier Baez of the Cubs (10.0 Box-Toppers points, first among NL shortstops), who also led at two other positions and was awarded Silver Slugger at NL second base. 

NL third base: Box-Toppers grade: B

Award-winner Nolan Arenado of the Rockies ranked sixth among NL third basemen with 6.0 Box-Toppers points. Box-Toppers deems Eugenio Suarez of the Reds top third baseman. He had 7.5 Box-Toppers points and ranked third among NL third basemen, behind two other players—Baez and Reynolds—who also played at other positions.

NL catcher: Box-Toppers grade: B

Award-winner J.T. Realmuto of the Marlins ranked second among NL catchers with 5.5 Box-Toppers points. Wilson Ramos of the Phillies led NL catchers with 6.0 Box-Toppers points.

NL outfield: Box-Toppers grade C-

Two of three Silver Slugger winners for NL outfielder are among the top three at the position in Box-Toppers rankings. That’s good enough for a grade of “A.” But the third, Nick Markakis of the Braves, earned just 1.0 Box-Toppers point this season and ranked 60th among NL outfielders, which makes our C- overall grade for NL outfielders seem generous.

Award-winner Christian Yelich of the Brewers led NL outfielders with 11.5 Box-Toppers points. Award-winner David Peralta of the Diamondbacks ranked third among NL outfielders with 8.5 Box-Toppers points.

Markakis’s award seems out of place since there were dozens of NL outfielders ranked ahead of him in Box-Toppers season player rankings, including, most notably, second-ranked NL outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., also of the Braves, who had 9.2 Box-Toppers points.

NL pitcher: Box-Toppers grade: Incomplete

Award-winner is German Marquez of the Rockies. But there is simply too small a sample size to pick a credible winner among batting pitchers. Pitchers can earn Box-Toppers points for batting but it is relatively rare—only three times in 2018 did a pitcher earn Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors for batting. None were by Marquez.

About Box-Toppers—Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games. Using standard box score statistics, Box-Toppers uses a simple formula to determine a Player of the Game for each Major League Baseball game played. That player is the person who contributed most to his team’s win. In regular season games, players earn 1.0 Box-Toppers point for being named Player of the Game and can earn bonus points for being Player of the Day or top player or batter in their league for the day.

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Last year: In 2017, seven of 17 Silver Slugger Award winners also led their position in Box-Toppers points.

Two years ago: In 2016, six of the 17 Silver Slugger winners were leaders at their position in Box-Toppers rankings.

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A detailed look at Box-Toppers points leaders for 2018: Top players by position in each league