Major League Baseball has officially announced its Silver Slugger finalists, representing four from each league at each infield position, as well as six catcher and four designated hitters and utility players. The outfield finalists include eight players tabbed as finalists.
The Rays feature only one Silver Slugger finalist in 2022 following a down season offensively that saw them rank 27th in the Majors in homeruns, struck out nearly 1400 times and ranked 24th in the Majors in OPS. To say that the offense was rather underwhelming for a contending team would be somewhat of an understatement, but outfielder Randy Arozarena offered a spark in an offense that otherwise would be lifeless at times.
Arozarena, the Rays only Silver Slugger finalist, is joined by Anthony Santander of the Orioles, Aaron Judge of the Yankees, Taylor Ward and Mike Trout of the Angels, Adolis Garcia of the Rangers, George Springer and Teoscar Hernandez of the Blue Jays, Julio Rodriguez of the Mariners and Kyle Tucker of the Astros as the qualifying outfielders in the junior circuit.
Much like the aforementioned Garcia, Tucker and Rodriguez, Arozarena tallied a 20-20 season, hitting for power at the plate (20 homeruns) and showing off scintillating speed as he wreaked havoc on the basepaths (32 stolen bases). Arozarena hit to a 124 OPS+, showing marks 24% better than the average hitter at the plate in 2022. His .263/.327/.445 slash led to a .773 OPS, but i's his .299/.333/.466 slash with runners on base that's a telling slash line, as he came up better with men on than without pressure.
Arozarena's .324 batting average on balls in play showed a bit of luck, however, compared to his underlying metrics. Despite a max exit velocity in the 94th percentile, his average exit velocity was only in the 67th percentile, while his hard-hit percentages were only in the 56th percentile. In terms of hard contact, Arozarena's numbers were down. That being said, combine a sprint-speed in the 86th percentile, which allows for ample infield hits, and the fact that Arozarena sprayed the ball around the field (20% the opposite way, 53.4% up the middle, 26.6% pull) making him difficult to shift, a lot of excellent ball placement on balls in play allowed for a high BAbip.
It's at this point where Arozarena's case deteriorates, however. Arozarena led the league in caught stealing (12 times) for the second consecutive season. The Rays led the league in outs on the basepaths, free outs given up due to baserunning blunders, with 73 in 2022. The second most behind them was the Chicago Cubs at 68. Arozarena paced the team in outs on the basepaths. It's difficult to reward a player for their offensive prowess when they have a clear hole in their game offensively that costs the team outs on a regular basis.
That being said, Arozarena still offers a lot of value to the Rays, posting a 2.8 WAR in 2022. The reigning AL Rookie of the Year looks to bring home his first Silver Slugger. The other American League finalists are as followed:
C: Martin Maldonado (Astros), Alejandro Kirk (Blue Jays), Sean Murphy (Athletics), Salvador Perez (Royals), Adley Rutschman (Orioles), Cal Raleigh (Mariners).
1B: Nate Lowe (Rangers), Anthony Rizzo (Yankees), Jose Abreu (White Sox), Vladimir Guerrero (Blue Jays).
2B: Jose Altuve (Astros), Marcus Semien (Rangers), DJ LeMahieu (Yankees), Andres Giminez (Guardians).
SS: Carlos Correa (Twins), Corey Seager (Rangers), Bo Bichette (Blue Jays), Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox).
3B: Matt Chapman (Blue Jays), Jose Ramirez (Guardians), Rafael Devers (Red Sox), Alex Bregman (Astros).
Designated Hitter: Shohei Ohtani (Angels), Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees), George Springer (Blue Jays), Yordan Alvarez (Astros).
Utility: Luis Rengifo (Angels), Luis Arraez (Twins), DJ LeMahieu (Yankees), Shohei Ohtani (Angels).
The winners will be announced at 6 PM local time on MLB Network on November 10th.
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