Predicting Top Candidates For NL Silver Slugger Awards

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Top Candidates For NL Silver Slugger Award

MLB
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball is one of the most unpredictable sports, but at the same time it’s one of the most exciting games a man can find. So even when there is no activity, most fans are eager to start making their predictions for what will happen.

The MLB regular season is two months away, but it’s never too early to start predicting possible winners and candidates for both team and individual accolades. Since the MLB is one of the leagues where statistics are very important, there are several measures and awards on both sides of the ball and one of the biggest is the one given to the best offensive players on both the NL and the AL, the Silver Slugger Award.

This award is given to one specific player on each defensive position – meaning there are nine winners per league each year – and it's given to the player with the best offensive number in that role. Guys like Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera and Brian McCann are frequent names associated with this award, and the NL has an impressive pool of talented players that deserve award consideration.

In the end, only one player per position can be highlighted, so the goal to be a Silver Slugger is to emerge as the best in the position. Posting good HR and RBI numbers is a way to help, but this award also considers more advanced stats like OPS, OBP and the BA that are a more accurate reflection of what a player can do offensively.

Without further ado, read on to find out who could be the 2014 NL Silver Sluggers when we are still two months away from the start of the regular season.

Juan Pablo Aravena is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jparavenarant or add him to your network on Google.

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C: Yadier Molina - St. Louis Cardinals

MLB
Jeff Curry – USA TODAY Sports

Is there any better catcher than Yadier Molina? The St. Louis Cardinals’ backstop is one of the best in the MLB on both sides of the ball and despite the fact that the catcher position is quite weak offensively, he will put up numbers worthy of his second Slugger Award once the season is over.

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1B: Paul Goldschmidt - Arizona Diamondbacks

MLB
Gary A Vasquez – USA TODAY Sports

Is there a player who is better offensively than Paul Goldschmidt right now? He led the NL on HRs, RBIs, slugging percentage and OPS while also being in the top five in both hits and OBP. He is a lock to get his second straight award even if he regresses a little bit, but all signs point to the fact that he will only get better with time.

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2B: Brandon Phillips - Cincinnati Reds

MLB
Joe Sargent – Getty Images

So much has been talked about Brandon Philips being on the decline and while his numbers suggest that, he is still one of the best offensive second baseman in all of baseball and the strongest candidate to take home the Silver Slugger Award at the end of the regular season.

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3B: Pedro Alvarez - Pittsburgh Pirates

MLB
Jeff Curry – USA TODAY Sports

Pedro Alvarez led the NL in HRs on 2013 – together with Goldschmidt – and he is a safe bet to repeat that again as long as he’s able to make consistent contact with the ball. He has power to all fields and he is a solid bet to take home the award for the second straight year.

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SS: Troy Tulowitzki - Colorado Rockies

MLB
Chris Humphreys – USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt that Troy Tulowitzki is one of the best offensive SS in all of baseball when he is healthy, but that has been a big “if” throughout his career. If he can stay on the field consistently, the Colorado Rockies’ shortstop is the front-runner to win the award thanks to offensive versatility.

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CF: Andrew McCutchen - Pittsburgh Pirates

MLB
Charles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports

Andrew McCutchen is the reigning NL MVP and he displayed all of his five tools for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season while also being a leader both on and off the field. He has power, ability to make contact and speed, so if all things click once again, he will no doubt be in line for another accolade at the end of the season.

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LF: Ryan Braun - Milwaukee Brewers

MLB
Benny Sieu – USA TODAY Sports

Before being suspended last season, Ryan Braun had won the last five Silver Slugger Awards and he will look to win his sixth in seven years with a strong year in 2014. He has all the tools and the talent to win it and he will surely be with a chip on his shoulder after what happened last season, so he will be extra motivated.

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RF: Yasiel Puig - Los Angeles Dodgers

MLB
Gary A Vasquez – USA TODAY Sports

Yasiel Puig took the MLB by storm last season with his debut for Los Angeles Dodgers and he put up historical numbers that were later shadowed by several off-the-field issues. The outfielder is still adjusting to life in the States and if he can perform like he did last season for the whole 2014 season, he will undoubtedly capture his first Silver Alugger Award.

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P: Travis Wood - Chicago Cubs

MLB
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The fact that a starting pitcher is one of the best offensive players says a lot about the Chicago Cubs' offense, but in this case, Travis Wood has enough merit to be considered one of the best batting pitcher in the MLB. Wood led all NL pitchers last season in HRs with three, was second in RBIs with eight, and was fourth in hits with 14. If he can get his average a bit higher, there’s no doubt he is line to capture his first award at the end 2014.

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