Cruz takes home 2nd AL Silver Slugger Award

Mariner's win is first as DH; other was as RF in 2015

Cruz takes home 2nd AL Silver Slugger Award

SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz doesn't seem to be slowing down with age, as the Mariners' 37-year-old designated hitter earned the second Silver Slugger Award of his 13-year career on Thursday.

Louisville Silver Slugger Awards are given out each year to the best hitter at each of the nine positions in both the American League and National League, as voted by coaches and managers. Cruz, who also won the award as a right fielder in his first season in Seattle in 2015, is the only Mariner to take home a Silver Slugger honor since Ichiro Suzuki in '09.

The Mariners have collected 23 Silver Slugger Awards in the franchise's 41-year history, but those honors have been divided between just six players. Ken Griffey Jr. was a seven-time winner, Edgar Martinez won five, Alex Rodriguez four, Ichiro three, Bret Boone two and now Cruz with two.

Cruz led the AL with a career-high 119 RBIs this past season while posting a .288/.375/.549 line with 39 home runs in 155 games.

AL Silver Slugger history

Of Cruz's 39 homers, 38 came while he was the DH, breaking Martinez's club record of 37, set in 2000. He became just the fourth Mariner to win an AL RBI title, joining Griffey (1997), Martinez (2000) and Boone ('01).

Cruz came one shy of a fourth straight season with 40-plus homers, but still became just the fourth Major Leaguer with four-plus consecutive seasons with 35 or more homers at age 33 or older, along with Babe Ruth, Rafael Palmeiro and Barry Bonds.

"He's the outlier, and good for us," Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Cruz's ability to maintain his power into his late 30s. "But it's not easy. It's by design with his approach, his film study, his game plan, the whole ball of wax. And you put on top of that the type of teammate he is and what he does in the clubhouse, it's the entire package."

Servais first worked with Cruz in Texas as the Rangers' director of player development when the Dominican Republic native was just breaking into the big leagues, and Servais says Cruz has developed into a far better all-around hitter as he's gotten older.

"He has evolved," Servais said. "That's just getting smart and gaining awareness of the strike zone and what people are trying to do to him and being able to make adjustments. To sit there and think, 'OK, they're pitching me away, I'm just going to hit it over there. Now they're trying to pitch me in, I'd better get the head out.'

"The talent lines up with the aptitude. And when the talent lines up with the aptitude and you're a really good person and good teammate, good things are going to happen."

Other AL Silver Slugger winners are Jose Altuve (second base) and George Springer (outfield) of the Astros, Francisco Lindor (shortstop) and Jose Ramirez (third base) of the Indians, Gary Sanchez (catcher) and Aaron Judge (outfield) of the Yankees, Eric Hosmer (first base) of the Royals and Justin Upton (outfield) of the Angels.

NL winners are Nolan Arenado (third base) and Charlie Blackmon (outfield) of the Rockies, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna (both outfield) of the Marlins, Paul Goldschmidt (first base) of the D-backs, Daniel Murphy (second base) of the Nationals, Corey Seager (shortstop) of the Dodgers, Buster Posey (catcher) of the Giants and Adam Wainwright (pitcher) of the Cardinals.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.