Silver Slugger snubs no surprise after rough year for Blue Jays offence

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In a season where power was elusive for the team, only one Blue Jays hitter was named a finalist for the annual Silver Slugger Awards, which honour the best hitters in baseball.

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Not only have the Jays had multiple finalists in recent years, they’ve had at least one positional winner in each of the past three seasons with Alejandro Kirk taking the catcher award in 2022 being the most recent.

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But when the finalists were revealed on Thursday, only Whit Merrifield was on the list in the utility category, a token addition for the team’s struggling offence.

Even the Jays best offensive player, shortstop Bo Bichette, didn’t make it to the final three in his category — a stout one headed by World Series MVP Corey Seager of the Rangers, the Royals’ Bobby Witt Jr. and J.P. Crawford of the Seattle Mariners.

While no surprise given how the season unfolded, the lack of recognition is a rarity for the current Jays core.

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The high-powered Toronto offence of 2021, for example, had three winners — Vlad Guerrero Jr. (first base) and Teoscar Hernandez (outfield), and recently crowned World Series champion Marcus Semien (second base).

Merrifield, the only current — and likely soon to be former — Jays player named as a finalist is in the utility category that was introduced to the awards in 2022. He joins the Angels’ Brandon Drury, the Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson and the Rays’ Isaac Parades as finalists.

Merrifield appeared in this year’s all-star game in a season that he hit .272 with 11 home runs.

The lack of Jays in contention for the awards is no surprise, of course, given the team’s season-long struggle managing hits. Among the former winners still with the team, both Kirk and Guerrero had precipitous drops in production at the plate.

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As a whole, the team dropped to 14th among all MLB teams in runs scored with 746, offensive struggles that continued into the team’s short-lived playoff experience.

The award is handed out annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American and National leagues. Voting is done by the manager and three members of his coaching staff on each of MLB’s 30 teams.

This year’s winners will be announced on Nov. 9.

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