Now that the Orioles have been shut out of the Silver Slugger Awards, it’s up to manager Buck Showalter to bring home the hardware.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will reveal their Managers of the Year in both leagues Tuesday night, with live announcements coming on MLB Network. Showalter, Oakland’s Bob Melvin and the White Sox’s Robin Ventura are the AL finalists. Ventura is mostly a spectator. It’s coming down to Showalter or Melvin.
An Oriole won’t win the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young or Most Valuable Player award. And Chris Davis doesn’t figure to win the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter award. Maybe “Best Impression of a Reliever,” but that’s it.
Kansas City’s Billy Butler won the Silver Slugger for designated hitters, and it’s going to come down to Butler and Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion for the DH award.
Ballots were cast by beat writers, broadcasters and AL public relations departments, with nominees including all players with a minimum of 100 at-bats as a designated hitter.
Davis batted .260/.333/.485 with seven doubles, 15 homers and 39 RBIs in 60 games as the DH. Butler hit .315/.371/.501 with 29 doubles, a triple, 23 homers and 93 RBIs in 138 games. Encarnacion hit .286/.381/.542 with 10 doubles, 22 homers and 64 RBIs in 82 games.
The White Sox’s Adam Dunn had 25 homers and 63 RBIs in 93 games, but that .198 average is an eyesore.
It’s no secret that the Orioles like Butler, 26, and check into his availability each winter. Showalter would gladly plug him into the middle of the lineup. And who wouldn’t want a player with the nickname “Country Breakfast?”
Butler is due to make $16 million over the next two seasons, and the Royals hold a $12.5 million option for 2015 with a $1 million buyout.
Butler made 20 starts at first base this year, committing three errors, and 11 in 2011. He’s mainly a DH now, but he’s not Jim Thome.
The Orioles need to formulate a plan for first base in case they lose Mark Reynolds, who could be non-tendered and test the free-agent waters. Davis is an option, though he must prove that he’s capable defensively.
Butler is on the Orioles’ radar, as usual. Maybe one of these days, he’ll actually be on the team.