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THE BALLOTS ARE OUT!
WHO WILL WIN THIS YEAR’S SILVER SLUGGER AWARDS?
2007 Louisville Slugger® Silver Slugger™ Ballots Distributed

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (August 31, 2007) –Louisville Slugger® Silver Slugger™ Award ballots are now in the hands of Major League Baseball® managers and coaches and this year could be the most interesting voting for the awards to date. Skippers and coaching staffs for each Major League team will select the players they feel are the best offensive producers at each position in
both the American and National Leagues in 2007. Ballots are expected back within the next few weeks. The award winners will be announced live on ESPNews on Friday, Nov. 9.

Selections are based on a combination of offensive statistics including batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, as well as the coaches’ and managers’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value. Managers and coaches vote for players in their respective leagues and are not allowed to vote for players on their own team.

This year’s voting offers some interesting choices for the managers and coaches. In the American League, Boston’s Manny Ramirez could be in line for his 10th Silver Slugger award, tying Mike Piazza for second-most all-time, but the Red Sox slugger’s competition for one of the three AL outfield spots includes Magglio Ordonez, Ichiro Suzuki, Vladimir Guerrero, Carl
Crawford
, Alex Rios, Torii Hunter and Hideki Matsui, among others. Barry Bonds may add to his record 12 Silver Slugger Awards but Matt Holliday and Houston teammates Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence, Braves outfielders Matt Diaz and Jeff Francoeur, not to mention Philadelphia’s Aaron Rowand and seven-time winner Ken Griffey Jr., among others, are chasing Silver Sluggers as well.

Alex Rodriguez may be the only favorite to win at this point in the season. The Yankees third baseman’s impressive numbers may have him in line for his ninth Silver Slugger Award. The NL third baseman could be red-hot Milwaukee rookie Ryan Braun who would have to upset Miguel Cabrera’s current run of two consecutive trophies. Aramis Ramirez, Chipper Jones and David Wright are also in the mix at third in the NL.

Middle infielders in both leagues are as puzzling a selection as any. The AL races for shortstop (Derek Jeter, Orlando Cabrera, Carlos Guillen, Jhonny Peralta, and Michael Young) and second base (Brian Roberts, Placido Polanco, Dustin Pedroia, Robinson Cano and B.J. Upton) are as difficult to decide as their NL counterparts (Jimmy Rollins, Edgar Renteria, Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez at shortstop; Chase Utley, Freddie Sanchez, Orlando Hudson, Dan Uggla and Brandon Phillips at second.)

Perhaps the most debatable award last year was at first base in the NL where Ryan Howard edged Albert Pujols. This year’s debate should grow with Prince Fielder and Derek Lee adding to the possibilities. Justin Morneau hopes to repeat in the AL first baseman spot, but new threats Ryan Garko and Casey Kotchman, along with Paul Konerko are hot on his heels.

The Silver Slugger backstops of a year ago – Minnesota’s Joe Mauer and Atlanta’s Brian McCann – are making cases for consecutive awards. But not if Jorge Posada, Victor Martinez, Ivan Rodriguez or Kenji Johjima (AL) and Russell Martin, Benji Molina or Johnny Estrada (NL) have anything to say about it.

David Ortiz and Gary Sheffield seem to be duking it out for the Silver Slugger Award for the designated hitter’s position with Oakland’s Jack Cust making a case. Carlos Zambrano is looking to be the best hitting pitcher in the majors for the second straight year but Kip Wells is hitting over .300 for St. Louis while Arizona rookie Micah Owings isn’t far off that pace.

"We’re excited about the voting because of the unusual parity at each position," said Rick Redman, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Hillerich & Bradsby Co., makers of Louisville Slugger. "We certainly do not envy the Major League Managers and coaches in having to pick from such a high number of deserving players."

The Silver Slugger Award was instituted by H&B in 1980 as a natural extension of the Silver Bat Award which is, as its name indicates, a silver bat presented by Louisville Slugger to the batting champions in the AL and NL.

Heading into 2007 voting, only five players have active streaks of consecutive Silver Slugger Awards alive. Ramirez has won eight of his 10 in succession, beginning in the 1999 season (he also won in 1995) while Ortiz, Guerrero and Alfonso Soriano have won three straight. Cabrera has won two in a row.

Louisville Slugger is the Official Bat of Major League Baseball.

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