Damaso Garcia, Aaron Hill and Kelly Gruber.
Outside of the obvious fact that they all have played for the Blue Jays’ at various points throughout their careers, can you name the other thing these infielders have in common?
Hint: It stands three feet tall, bears the Louisville Slugger insignia and carries far more weight than a traditional bat.
First presented by Hillerich & Bradsby in 1980, the Silver Slugger award is doled out annually to the players deemed, by major league baseball’s managers and coaches, to have put forth the best offensive showing at each position on the diamond.
Taking in to consideration all of the encompassing elements with regards to general offensive output, slugging percentage, batting average, durability and on-base-percentage to name a few, those who are awarded the silver stick are considered by voters to be of the top nine offensive threats in each league.
As for Toronto, a franchise historically been built around the long-ball, the Blue Jays have fielded a total of 16 players who have taken home Silver Slugger honors during the clubs 38 year tenure.
Of the 16, three have slugged themselves to a trio of titles.
Capped off by an MVP season in which he slashed a remarkable .308/.352/.601 in 156 games for the snake-bitten 96-66 Blue Jays, George Bell was named one of the top three offensive outfielders from 1985 through 1987.
In 2003, Carlos Delgado took home his third bat after knocking 42 big flies, driving in 145 runs and posting an other worldly OPS of 1.019, easily tops for all American League first basemen.
These days, there’s another heavy hitter in the Jays lineup … In fact, there just so happens to be a few, although only a single member of Toronto’s plethora of power has earned an overall offensive top spot among his peers over the course of his big-league career.
In 2010, Jose Bautista cruised past Bell’s franchise record of 47 homers, knocking 54 of his own en-route to earning his first Silver Slugger. Complimenting his power numbers by posting a career best on-base-percentage (OBP) of .447, he would lead the majors once again by knocking 43 a year later … Enter silver bat No. 2.
Two seasons following his last offensive triumph, Bautista, having firmly entrenched himself as one of the games finest hitters, would again rise to prominence.
Serving as the main catalyst for Toronto’s offensive attack in 2014, the hard hitting native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, mashed his way back into baseball’s trophy case as, in his seventh season with the Blue Jays, Bautista would again post an OBP north of .400 in addition to driving in 103 runs over 155 games throughout the course of the regular season.
On Monday, Bautista will be presented with his third decorative bat in a ceremony that will take place prior to Toronto’s home opener at Rogers Center.
In attendance for the nights festivities will be fellow three-time Silver Slugger Award recipients Bell and Delgado, who, in addition to being on hand for the kick off of another 81-game home slate of Blue Jays baseball, are also tapped to present Baustista with his third silver plated Hillerich & Bradsby.
Combined, the trio makes up, 10 all star nods, two Level of Excellence nominations, 12% of the franchises cumulative total of home runs and nine of the Blue Jays 24 silver slugger achievements.
1982 – Damaso Garcia (2B) 1993 – Paul Molitor (DH)
1983 – Lloyd Moseby (OF) 1998 – Jose Canseco (DH)
1985 – George Bell (OF) 1999 – Shawn Green (OF)
1986 – George Bell (OF) 1999 – Carlos Delgado (1B)
1987 – George Bell (OF) 2000 – Carlos Delgado (1B)
1989 – Fred McGriff (1B) 2009 – Aaron Hill (2B)
1990 – Kelly Gruber (3B) 2009 – Adam Lind (DH)
1991 – Joe Carter (OF) 2010 – Jose Bautista (OF)
1992 – Roberto Alomar (2B) 2011 – Jose Bautista (OF)
1992 – Joe Carter (OF) 2014 – Jose Bautista (OF)
1992 – Dave Winfield (DH)