Braun, Fielder win Silver Slugger Awards

Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder went together like beer and bratwurst over the past five seasons with the Brewers, and they were linked again Wednesday, perhaps for one last time. Both players were named Silver Sluggers in the National League.

The award, presented annually by the Louisville Slugger bat company, goes to the top hitters in each league at each position. Both Braun and Fielder have won before. Braun has been a Silver Slugger for four straight seasons, and Fielder, a free agent as of this week, also won in 2007.

It’s the second straight season and the fourth time since the Silver Slugger Award debuted in 1980 that the Brewers have multiple winners. First baseman Cecil Cooper, shortstop Robin Yount and outfielder Ben Oglivie won in the award’s inaugural season; Cooper and Yount won again in 1982 and Braun and pitcher Yovani Gallardo won in 2010.

Now it’s Braun and Fielder, two home-grown sluggers who should also rank high in NL MVP balloting when results are announced Tuesday, Nov. 22.

Braun led the NL with a .994 OPS and finished second with a .332 batting average, 336 total bases and 109 runs scored. He ranked fourth with 111 RBIs and tied for sixth with 33 home runs. He’s the first NL outfielder to win the award four years running since Barry Bonds took five in a row from 2000-04, five of Bonds’ 12 career Silver Slugger Awards.

The other Silver Slugger outfielders were Matt Kemp of the Dodgers and Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks. Both are considered leading contenders with Braun for the NL MVP honor. Kemp has already won the Hank Aaron Award as the NL’s most outstanding offensive player.

To win his second career Silver Slugger Award, Fielder had to unseat the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols, who had won at first base in each of the past three seasons. Fielder had the edge over Pujols in all of the major categories, including home runs (38 to 37), RBIs (120 to 99), OPS (.981 to .906) and total bases (322 to 313).

Fielder finished second in the NL in homers, RBIs, walks (107) and on-base percentage (.415). He also was the only player in the Majors to start all 162 games.


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