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(Photo: Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports)

On Thursday, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts were named recipients of the Silver Slugger Award, in recognition of the best offensive player in the league at each position.

For the reigning MVP Betts, this is his third silver slugger award. Along with his four gold gloves, the resumé keeps growing for the superstar with an uncertain future in Boston. Despite taking a slight step backwards from his historic 2018, Betts used a scorching hot second half of the season with the bat to help him keep pace with the league’s best outfielders. He finished the year with 29 home runs, 16 stolen bases, and a .295/.391/.524 slash line. He also scored a career-high and league-high 135 runs and drove in 80 out of the leadoff spot. Heading into an offseason that could very well be centered around him, Betts continues to one of the most dynamic players in the sport.

Source: Boston Red Sox Facebook

For Bogaerts, the accolades have been coming at a healthy pace but it’s easy to realize he’s just getting started. In 2019, Bogaerts finished the year with 33 home runs, 177 RBI, and a .309/.384/.555 slash line as a shortstop and led the Red Sox with a 7.1 offensive WAR, also good for fourth in the American League. The top 3? The 3 finalists for MVP: Mike Trout, Alex Bregman, and Marcus Semien. Bogaerts also made top 10 appearances in the batting title race, OBP, runs, and total bases AL leaderboards, and finished third in the league in win probability added (WPA).

A player with superstar potential for several years, he finally started receiving national attention after Alex Cora took over the reigns in the Boston dugout in 2018. He gets better every year from a defensive and offensive standpoint and two has two all star appearances, two rings, and three Silver Slugger awards to his name. Perhaps most importantly, after receiving a 7-year contract to anchor the shortstop position for the Red Sox, Bogaerts’ unofficial role as leader of the clubhouse only became more apparent. It takes a special talent for a superstar to solidify elite status and take over a team after getting paid. All Bogaerts needs is the official C patch, last owned by Jason Varitek. Will he get it?



Notably, Rafael Devers’ breakout season in which he led the league in doubles and total bases, was second in the league in runs scored (only to Betts), and finished in the top 5 of the battle title race, it still wasn't quite enough to steal attention from MVP candidate Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros. Meanwhile, one year after becoming the first player in MLB history to win two silver sluggers in the same season, J.D. Martinez, had another monster offensive year but could not beat Nelson Cruz of the Minnesota Twins for a silver slugger award.

The Red Sox remained one of the best offenses in baseball in 2019 but it wasn’t enough for a playoff run. As the individual stars continue to pick up hardware, Chaim Bloom’s job isn’t getting any easier. An offseason plan that remains stacked with mystery may involve complications in holding onto the cornerstones of an elite lineup.

Follow the author at @AhaanRungta and read more here.

Ahaan Rungta 11/07/2019 08:13:00 PM Edit
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