If you got the feeling while watching baseball this year that a new class of exciting hitters was emerging, well, you were right. And confirmation came once again on Friday, when seven first-time winners brought home Silver Slugger Awards.

First baseman Prince Fielder of the Brewers and shortstop Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies, two of the top candidates for National League Most Valuable Player honors, each picked up their first Silver Slugger, along with Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, Tigers second baseman Placido Polanco, Diamondbacks pitcher Micah Owings, Devil Rays first baseman Carlos Pena and Mets third baseman David Wright.

On the other end of the spectrum, the leading American League MVP candidate earned his ninth Silver Slugger. Alex Rodriguez moved into a tie for third place on the all-time list, equal to Manny Ramirez and Barry Larkin, and trailing only Barry Bonds (12) and Mike Piazza (10). Rodriguez became only the second player to win multiple Silver Sluggers at two different positions. He has seven at shortstop, and now has earned two at third base. Frank Thomas (first base and DH) is the only other player with that double.

Also earning the hardware in the AL were Derek Jeter (shortstop), Magglio Ordonez (outfield), Vladimir Guerrero (outfield), Ichiro Suzuki (outfield), Jorge Posada (catcher) and David Ortiz (designated hitter). Repeat winners in the NL were Chase Utley (second base), Carlos Beltran (outfield), Carlos Lee (outfield) and Matt Holliday (outfield).

For Guerrero, it was the seventh Silver Slugger and fourth in a row. Posada has five, and Ortiz has four -- each in the past four years. Ordonez is a three-time winner. Six players won for the second time: Beltran, Holliday, Jeter, Utley, Lee and Suzuki.

2007 Silver Slugger winners
AMERICAN LEAGUE AL
 C Jorge Posada, NYY
1B Carlos Pena, TB
2B Placido Polanco, DET
3B Alex Rodriguez, NYY
SS Derek Jeter, NYY
OF Vladimir Guerrero, LAA
OF Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
OF Magglio Ordonez, DET
DH David Ortiz, BOS
NATIONAL LEAGUE NL
C Russell Martin, LAD
1B Prince Fielder, MIL
2B Chase Utley, PHI
3B David Wright, NYM
SS Jimmy Rollins, PHI
OF Carlos Beltran, NYM
OF Matt Holliday, COL
OF Carlos Lee, HOU
P Micah Owings, ARI

The Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award winners were chosen by Major League coaches and managers, who voted for the players they felt were the best offensive producers at each position in both the American and National Leagues in 2007. 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 were not allowed to vote for players on their own team.

The specially designed Silver Slugger Award will be presented to each player by a representative of the Hillerich & Bradsby Co., makers of Louisville Slugger, the Official Bat of Major League Baseball, in a ceremony early in the 2008 season. The trophy is three feet tall and bears the engraved name of the winner and his Silver Slugger teammates in his respective league.

The Silver Slugger Award was instituted in 1980 as a companion to the Silver Bat Award, which commemorates the batting average champions in the AL and NL. This year's Silver Bat Award winners are Holliday and Ordonez. Holliday hit .340 to win the NL batting title. Ordonez led the Major Leagues in batting with a .363 average and claimed the AL honor.

Six players will be receiving dual hardware early in 2008. Four NL players and two AL players won not only Silver Sluggers, but also Gold Glove Awards. Martin, Wright, Rollins and Beltran all pulled the double in the NL, while Polanco and Suzuki did it in the AL.