11/09/07 4:05 PM ET
Pena wins Rays' first Silver Slugger
First baseman rewarded with honor following breakout season
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Pena was named the winner of the American League Silver Slugger Award for first base on Friday.
Pena thundered through the second half of the season, hitting 29 of his 46 home runs from July through September, finishing with 13 in the final month of the season. In addition, Pena brought a positive influence to the clubhouse, and he clearly became a fan favorite at Tropicana Field.
Louisville Slugger's Silver Slugger Award winners were determined by a vote of Major League Baseball 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 were 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.
After missing three-fourths of the 2005 and '06 seasons, Pena, 29, came back strong in 2007, finishing the season among the top 10 in five statistical categories -- fourth in home runs with 46, sixth in RBIs with 121, ninth in on-base percentage at .411, second in slugging percentage at .627 and seventh in walks with 103.
Originally told that he would not make the Rays' 2007 big league roster, Pena returned home to Orlando, Fla., before receiving the call that began his comeback. He went on to set Tampa Bay's single-season records in homers, RBIs and walks, and he became just the 11th player in AL history to have 100 walks, 45 homers and 120 RBIs in a single season.
"This is the most fun I've had playing baseball," Pena said in an early October interview. "It was a lot of fun going out there every day."
Rays manager Joe Maddon believes in Pena's professionalism.
"You know what I love -- how he took every at-bat," Maddon said. "He does not waste an at-bat. ... I think Carlos, as this season went on, really became involved with his at-bats. Every at-bat became a new adventure. I think as the season wore on ... his pitch selection got even better."
Pena cited his ability to focus as the overwhelming reason for his success in 2007.
"I'm happy I was able to maintain the focus," Pena said. "As a player, that's all you look for is that consistency of mind. If you get that consistency of mind, you eventually find consistency on the field."
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 by H&B in 1980 as a natural extension of the Silver Bat Award, which is, as its name indicates, a silver-plated bat presented by Louisville Slugger to the batting champions in the AL and NL. This year's Silver Bat Award winners are Colorado's Matt Holliday and Detroit's Magglio Ordonez. Holliday hit .340 to win the NL batting title. Ordonez led the Major Leagues in batting with a .363 average to claim the AL honor.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.