MLB: MVP and Silver Slugger winners announced

With the conclusion of the World Series on November 2, the 2021 Major League Baseball season has finally come to an end, as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Houston Astros in six games to win their second title since moving to Atlanta. In a year full of stellar performances, the MLB Awards Week recognized some of the best performances of the 2021 season.

Last week, the winners of the Silver Slugger award in both leagues were announced. The honor has been awarded since 1980, and recognizes the best offensive players at each position in each league, who are voted upon by the coaches and managers of the 30 teams of Major League Baseball.

Shohei Ohtani, one of this season’s sensations, received his first-ever Silver Slugger and became the first Angel to win the award as a designated hitter. He was the overwhelming favorite for both American League’s Silver Slugger and MVP awards with sportsbooks on, and became the second Japanese-born – joining Ichiro Suzuki, who first won the award in 2001 – and 26th Angel in franchise history to win the award. The two-way star finished the season with 46 home runs, eight triples, and 100 RBIs.

For the first in his career, Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. won the Silver Slugger award and became the youngest first baseman ever to do so.  He tied Royals’ Salvador Perez – who won his fourth Silver Slugger at catcher – for the league’s lead in home runs at 48, and also won the AL Hank Aaron award. The Blue Jays led all AL teams with three Silver Slugger winners, including Teoscar Hernandez, and Marcus Semien – who joined Ohtani and Guerrero Jr. as the finalists for the American League MVP award.

Other players who earned the award in the American League include Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers and shortstop Xander Bogaerts, New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge, and Baltimore Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins.

For the fifth – and last time, since he announced his retirement on November 4 – San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey earned the Silver Slugger award at catcher. He finishes his career only behind Barry Bonds, who won the award nine times with the Giants.

San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatís Jr. won the award for the second straight season, after leading the National League with 42 homers, 25 stolen bases, and 97 RBI. Tatís was also a National League MVP award finalist, alongside outfielders Juan Soto – who also won his second straight Silver Slugger – and Bryce Harper, who earned the second Silver Slugger in his career.

Cincinnati Reds’ Nick Castellanos was the other outfielder to be awarded the 2021 Silver Slugger in the National League, after finishing the season with a career-high 34 home runs.

Finally, four out of the nine National League winners were from the World Series Champions Atlanta Braves. Freddie Freeman, who earned it for the third time in his career, Ozzie Albies, with his second honor, and Austin Riley and Max Fried, both first-time winners. Fried also won his second straight Gold Glove Award.

2021 Most Valuable Player honors

One week after the Silver Slugger winners were disclosed, the MLB Awards week concluded with the announcement of the Most Valuable Player awards for both leagues.

In the American League, Shohei Ohtani won the 2021 MVP award unanimously, garnering all 30 possible first-place votes, after a historic season in which he became the first two-way player in the history of Major League Baseball with 10+ home runs and 20+ stolen bases as a hitter and 100+ strikeouts and 10+ appearances as a pitcher in the same season, as well as being the first two-way player to be selected for an All-Star Game. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. earned 29 of the 30 possible second-place votes.

On the other side, Bryce Harper earned 17 of the 30 possible first-place votes, and won the NL Most Valuable Player award for the second time in his career – in 2015, he was named the NL MVP by unanimous decision – after carrying the Phillies lineup for much of the season. Juan Soto received six first-place votes and finished second, while Tatís Jr. earned two first-place votes and finished third. Although he received four first-place votes, Brandon Crawford finished fourth.