By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Three players born in Canada were among the finalists for the 2021 Silver Slugger awards, announced by Louisville Slugger on Monday.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal, Que.) and Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) are finalists at the first base position in the American League and National League respectively, while Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) is a finalist among National League outfielders.
The Silver Slugger awards are designed to recognize the top offensive performers at each position in each league. The manager and three coaches from each big league squad vote for the awards.
The winners will be unveiled on the MLB Network on Nov. 11.
The 22-year-old Guerrero enjoyed a breakout season in 2021 that saw him top Canadian-born players in almost every offensive category. He tied for the American League lead in home runs (48) and was the outright league leader in on-base percentage (.401), slugging percentage (.601), on-base plus slugging percentage (1.002), runs (123) and total bases (363).
Votto belted his 36th home run on the final day of the 2021 campaign. With that, at the age of 38, he finished just one home run shy of his career-high that he established 11 years earlier. Votto also finished fourth in the National League with a .563 slugging percentage.
O’Neill also excelled at the plate in 2021. He batted .286 with 34 homers and posted a .560 slugging percentage, which was the seventh best in the National League. He also stole 15 bases, making him, according to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, one of just three Canadian players – joining Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) and Votto – to have at least 34 home runs and 15 stolen bases in the same season.
Freddie Freeman, whose parents were born in Canada, has also been named a National League finalist at first base.
On top of Guerrero Jr., four other Blue Jays players were named finalists: Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernandez and Marcus Semien.