Over the course of their history, the Rockies have won 32 Silver Slugger awards and of that total, only three have been won by pitchers. With 2021 potentially being the last time pitchers will hit in the National League, German Marquez is staking a claim to the title of the last Silver Slugger pitcher and join Mike Hampton as the only Rockies pitchers to win multiple Silver Slugger awards. So, let’s take some time and check in on Marquez’s pursuit along with the other top candidates for the award.
Julio Urías- Los Angeles Dodgers
When you’re on a team that features multiple former MVP and Cy Young award winners, it can be hard to stand out and compete for some sort of award. Even though Urías has been one of the top pitchers for the Dodgers this year, he may have better luck trying for the Silver Slugger in 2021. Urías has a .200 batting average over 55 at-bats to be one of the few that has an average over .200 with at least 40 at-bats over 30 games.
Urías has totaled nine hits with two doubles over the course of the season. Thanks to the Dodgers offense in front of him, Urías has managed to drive in nine runs to lead the National League pitchers in that category. His greatest contributions come in the form of sacrifice hits in which he ranks second behind Adam Wainwright (13) with 10. He is prone to strike out as pitchers often do as he has punched out 20 times but that is still a lower total than the majority of pitchers.
Urías is unlikely to win the Silver Slugger, but the fact that the youngster continues to succeed in any position he’s put in is a testament to his talent and future in the big leagues. Unfortunately for him, there are stronger candidates for the award that have a little more oomph with a bat in their hand.
Max Fried-Atlanta Braves
Not only has Max Fried had a phenomenal year on the mound for the first-place Atlanta Braves, but he has handled himself quite nicely with a bat. Fried leads all pitchers with 15 hits on the season in 49 at-bats for a .306 batting average. Among those 15 hits, Fried has three doubles and has driven in five runs while scoring seven runs himself.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing stats for Fried is that by pitcher standards he has the added threat of being able to draw a walk and register sacrifice bunts. Over 60 plate appearances, Fried is among the league leaders in walks with four, sitting behind Aaron Nola and Walker Buehler who both have five. He is also among the league leaders for pitchers with seven sacrifice hits, which may not seem like much but seeing as how difficult bunts can be in today’s game for pitchers, it isn’t too shabby. The most notable stat in Fried’s favor is that he leads all pitchers with a 0.9 offensive fWAR.
While pitchers are known to strike out at the plate, Fried has struck out 16 times at the plate, which is on the lower end for all pitchers with at least 25 games played. Fried has an ability to put the bat on the ball, a rare trait for pitchers, and the fact that the Braves lineup can expect a quality approach in the few at-bats he gets each start goes a long way in his Silver Slugger candidacy.
Germán Márquez- Colorado Rockies
The winner of the 2018 Silver Slugger award for pitchers was none other than Germán Márquez and he wants his crown back. There is nothing better than not having to sweat bullets when a pitcher comes up to the plate with runners in scoring position and two outs. Not only is Márquez the ace of the Rockies pitching staff, but he is by far the best hitting pitcher out of the rotation as well.
In 52 at-bats Márquez has 13 hits for a .250 batting average and a .404 slugging percentage. Márquez hasn’t settled for just singles as he has a league-leading five doubles on the season as well as a home run off of Padres pitcher Yu Darvish. The only pitchers to have more home runs are Huascar Ynoa and Adrian Houser with two apiece.
He has a knack for helping himself out during his outings thanks to the nine runs he has driven while scoring five of his own. Like Fried, Márquez has also limited his strikeouts by tallying just 13 on the year while making the most of his sacrifice opportunities with seven. He has a legitimate chance to win the Silver Slugger over Fried thanks to the extra-base hits he has produced. Sure, Fried has more hits and a better average, but Márquez swings the bat with the confidence of a seasoned slugger. An important thing to remember is that Márquez has 0.6 fWAR at the plate that trails behind Fried.
Honorable Mention: Jacob deGrom- New York Mets
If Jacob deGrom had managed to stay healthy throughout the season, he would likely have been an even stronger contender for the Silver Slugger. Not only was he on a path to win yet another Cy Young, but deGrom was providing the offense for himself to win ball games. In 33 at-bats over 15 games, deGrom batted .364 with 11 hits including a double, six RBI, and four runs scored.
In half the time, deGrom was able to come close to matching what the other pitchers on this list were able to produce and even has a 0.6 fWAR like Márquez. Perhaps that offensive output will be enough to win the award, regardless of the deficit in playing time, but it’s unlikely.
There is still hope
The Rockies may be out of contention this season, but when it comes to individual awards they always have a few folks in the mix and Márquez is putting his best foot forward to bring home another trophy. It seems only right that one of the best pitchers in team history also becomes one of the best hitting pitchers in team history.
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The Rockies finally retired Larry Walker’s jersey number, so the baseball writers that cover the team had some great articles covering the event. Manny Randwaha covers the ceremony itself, and how Walker was delighted and honored by the fact that no Rockie will ever wear 33 again. The Hall of Famer was nervous about his speech, but keeping with tradition and routine, he admitted that he had been waking up at 3:33 in the morning, regardless of when he went to bed, with the speech still on his mind. Needless to say, he did very well.
Nick Groke on the other hand dives deeper into the true meaning of what the retirement of Walker’s number is for the Rockies. The Rockies have had a myriad of great players over their history, but over almost 30 years of existence have only retired two numbers and have one Hall of Famer. Groke summarizes the even beautifully, “With Walker now enshrined among the greats, the Rockies can lean on something more solid. Inside the gates at Coors Field, they now have the memory of two players to help tell their story.”
Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 3, Reno Aces 1
On a night when the parent club retired the number of Larry Walker, it seemed almost fitting that the Isotopes were able to score three runs in one inning on the power of back-to-back home runs from Brian Serven and Taylor Snyder. Perhaps the biggest story of the game was the performance of Ryan Rolison. After a slew of injuries derailed his minor league season, Rolison spun a gem by tossing five shutout innings, allowing just one hit while striking out eight batters and issuing three walks. Reno’s lone run came off of Zac Rosscup in the sixth inning, but the rest of the bullpen allowed just two hits with Justin Lawrence recording his 13th save of the season.
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