Phillips adds Silver to his Gold
Three-time Gold Glove winner presented with first Silver Slugger
Most baseball fans have heard of the Gold Glove Award, the trophy given out to the player deemed to be the best fielder at each position in the American and National Leagues.
But fewer know about its cousin, the Silver Slugger Award, which is presented to the best offensive player at each position, as judged by managers and coaches.
"I think the Gold Glove is more recognized," said Scott Rolen, an eight-time Gold Glove Award winner and a one-time Silver Slugger winner. "I think most people know more about it. I am partial to the Gold Glove. It's an unselfish award to me and shows you play defense behind your pitcher and the team."
Rolen didn't sell the Silver Slugger Award short, though.
"It is rightly so that you recognize a player for being the best hitter in their position," he said. "If you put everybody together, the second baseman or the catcher aren't known as well for their hitting as much as a first baseman or some outfielders. It is good that you get an opportunity to see who the league thinks is the best hitter in the position."
Added Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who has three Gold Gloves to his name: "Honestly, winning the Gold Glove is so much better than winning the Silver Slugger, because I feel that when you are out there with eight other guys, it is more important to catch the ball than hit the ball."
But Wednesday, it was all about the Silver Slugger Award, as the Reds celebrated Phillips' 2011 trophy as the best offensive second baseman in the NL by giving away an appropriately-colored miniature bat emblazoned with Phillips' name to the first 10,000 fans who entered the ballpark.
Phillips celebrated the night by going 3-for-3 with three RBIs, including a two-run home run off Indians left-hander Nick Hagadone in the seventh inning that gave the Reds an important three-run cushion in their eventual 5-3 victory.
"It's an award for me to be the best offensive player in the league, and it shows that managers and players and people pay attention to my work ethic and how hard I play," Phillips said. "Especially for myself, hitting in different parts of the order, it really shows how versatile I am and how much I put in to win this award. I really never thought that I would win this award. It is just something that really means a lot to me."
And for good reason, according to teammate Ryan Ludwick, who won a Silver Slugger Award in 2008.
"I think it was much deserved," Ludwick said. "[Phillips] worked hard to get that. I'm really proud of him. I played with DatDude [a reference to Phillips' Twitter handle, @DatDudeBP] back in the Minor Leagues, and to see how far he has come and how good of a player he has been at this level for this long period of time here in Cincinnati, it is good to see."
Phillips admitted that he's had to adjust as a hitter, having batted in both the leadoff and cleanup slots this season.
"Hitting leadoff, I had to change my approach to getting on base to help the team, and when I am batting fourth, it is all about driving in the runners," he said. "I try to go out there and drive in runs.
"It is really different for me this year. I thought I was going to be hitting leadoff for the majority of the year, but that hasn't really happened. But I'm just happy that I have my job and try to do what's best for the team."
Hitting cleanup might be what's best for the team, but in Phillips' case, snaring a Silver Slugger Award doesn't hurt, either.
Meggie Zahneis, winner of the 2011 Breaking Barriers essay contest, earned the job of youth correspondent for MLB.com in the fall of '11. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.