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LET THE DEBATES BEGIN!
WHO WILL WIN THIS YEAR'S SILVER SLUGGER AWARDS?
2007 Louisville Slugger® Silver SluggerT Races Tighter Than Ever

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (July 20, 2007) –As Major League Baseball enters the second half of the 2007 season, competition for this year’s Louisville Slugger® Silver Slugger™ Awards is becoming fierce. The Silver Slugger, the top offensive award in Major League Baseball®, has long been a point of pride and contention for the best in the game and this year’s races are as tight as ever.

“We’re excited about the debate over who deserves the 2007 Silver Slugger Awards 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.”

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 a player at each position in their respective leagues and are not allowed to vote for players on their own team. Ballots are distributed the last month of the season. The Silver Slugger Awards are announced live on ESPNews in early November.

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 numbers were down in the first half of the season. Among a list of other outfielders hoping to deny Ramirez’s quest are Magglio Ordonez, Ichiro Suzuki, Vladimir Guerrero  and Torii Hunter. Barry Bonds may add to his record 12 Silver Slugger Awards but Rockies teammates Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe and Astros mates Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence, along with Ken Griffey Jr., and 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 first half has him in line for his ninth Silver Slugger Award. The NL third baseman seems to be a toss-up between Florida’s Miguel Cabrera and any of Aramis Ramirez, Chipper Jones, David Wright and Milwaukee rookie Ryan Braun.

Middle infielders in both leagues are as puzzling a selection as any. The AL races for shortstop (Michael Young, Derek Jeter, Jhonny Peralta, Carlos Guillen and Orlando Cabrera) and second base (Brian Roberts, Placido Polanco, Ty Wiggington, Robinson Cano and Aaron Hill) are as difficult to decide as their NL counterparts (Jimmy Rollins, Edgar Renteria, J.J. Hardy, 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 that at NL first base 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 Paul Konerko, Carlos Pena, Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis 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 Victor Martinez, Ivan Rodriguez or Jorge Posada (AL) and Russell Martin, Paul Lo Duca, 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. Carlos Zambrano is looking to be the best hitting pitcher in the majors for the second straight year but previous winners Livan Hernandez and Tom Glavine, along with Adam Eaton and Brad Penny are putting up big numbers as well.

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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