Former Indianapolis Indians standouts Jose Bautista, Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker were each presented with a 2014 Silver Slugger award, which honors the top hitter at each position in both the American and National Leagues.
Bautista, awarded as one of three AL outfielders, reached base safely in 140 of his 154 starts in 2014 while ranking second in the league in on-base percentage (.403) and walks (104), and tied for third in runs scored (101). The perennial power hitter slugged his way to a third batting award with a team-high 35 homers for the Toronto Blue Jays, which was good for a share of the fifth-most home runs in the AL.
Prior to becoming a mainstay in the big leagues, Bautista suited up with the Tribe for Triple-A stints in three consecutive seasons from 2005-07. He hit a combined .273 (47-for-172) with 14 doubles, five homers, 24 runs scored and 21 RBI in 47 contests, including homering as part of back-to-back three-hit games during his final two appearances at Victory Field on Aug. 17-18, 2008. Bautista concluded the two-game showcase at 6 for his last 10 with two doubles, two homers and seven RBI against the Durham Bulls in downtown Indianapolis.
McCutchen took home his third consecutive crown to become the first Pittsburgh outfielder to accomplish the feat since Barry Bonds in 1990-92. The MVP candidate dominated among an outfield crowded with potential award-winning candidates by leading all NL center fielders with a .314 average, ranking 54 points better than the runner-up with a .410 OBP and topping second-place Matt Kemp’s slugging average by 36 points with his mark of .542. His totals, along with pacing the league with a .952 OPS (on-base plus slugging), also included a league high-tying 69 extra-base knocks, the NL’s second-most total bases (297) and fourth-most walks (84).
An all-time Tribe great, McCutchen posted Silver Slugger caliber numbers during his time with the Indians from 2007-09, highlighted by his team-leading 145 hits in 135 Triple-A games in 2008. His efforts that season earned the standout a spot in the 2008 Triple-A All-Star Game, where he was voted the International League’s Top Star after producing two base knocks and driving in a pair of runs.
McCutchen departed for the big leagues having hit a combined .286 (227-for-780) with 40 doubles, 11 triples, 14 home runs, 123 runs scored and 75 RBI in 201 career games with the Tribe.
Walker hauled in his first Silver Slugger hardware following a record-breaking campaign at second base with the Pirates. Despite appearing in the second-fewest games (137) among the NL’s second baseman, Walker paced his counterparts with 23 homers – the most in a season by a Pittsburgh second baseman – and an OPS (.809) ranking 63 points more than runner-up Chase Utley. In addition, Walker’s 76 RBI were second to only Utley’s 78, which he compiled in 77 fewer at-bats than the Phillies great.*
The heavy-hitting, ex-Indians infielder suited up with his former Tribe squad as recent as the 2013 campaign (brief rehab stint). He last began a season at the Triple-A level in 2010, and was named the team’s MVP in 2008 after belting a team-high 16 homers in 138 contests. Overall, Walker combined to hit .259 (285-for-1102) with 78 doubles, 11 triples, 36 homers, 139 runs scored and 175 RBI in 293 games with the Indians from 2007-10 and 2013.
Walker is the sixth different second baseman to earn a Silver Slugger in the last six years.*
*Info courtesy of MLB.com