Headley adds Silver Slugger to growing trophy case
Third baseman also won Gold Glove Award, is MVP finalist
SAN DIEGO -- Baseball's award season has been very kind to third baseman Chase Headley, who picked up his second noteworthy award when he won the National League's Silver Slugger Award on Thursday.
Headley enjoyed a career year at the plate for the Padres, leading the National League with 115 RBIs to go with 31 home runs. Overall, Headley hit .286 with 173 hits in 161 games and was named the National League's player of the month for August and September.
Last week, Headley won his first Gold Glove Award.
Winners of the Silver Slugger Award were determined by voting done among Major League managers and coaches, who were asked to name the players at each position in each league who were the best offensively at their position. Voters were forbidden from voting for players from their own clubs.
Headley is the first Padres player to win a Silver Slugger since Mark Loretta (second base) did so in 2004. Overall, Headley is the 10th player in franchise history to win the award. Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn won seven Silver Slugger Awards.
"To Chase's credit, his mindset has shifted to where he's now the aggressor," manager Bud Black said during the season. "You can say that early in his career, the pitcher took it to him. Now he is taking it to the pitcher."
Headley becomes just the eighth National League third baseman ever to win both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards in the same season and first since Washington's Ryan Zimmerman in 2009. He is just the fourth player in Padres history to win both awards in one season, joining Tony Gwynn (1986-87, 89), Benito Santiago (1988, 90) and Ken Caminiti (1996).
Headley faced some stiff competition from Mets third baseman David Wright, who actually had a better WAR (7.8 to 7.5 for Headley) according to Fangraphs. Wright had a higher average (.306), on-base percentage (.391) and five more hits (178) than Headley.
Throughout the season, Headley was humbled by his success, often deflecting attention to that of his teammates.
"There have been so many more opportunities," Headley said in October of getting chances to hit with runners on base. "The second half has been incredibly enjoyable, especially being around these guys."
With those torrid months of August and September, Headley became the first player in franchise history to knock in 30 or more runs in a month twice.
"To have that [production] in San Diego, that's pretty amazing," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said in October. "He needs to be talked about a lot more than he has been. To have that kind of year in that place? Phenomenal."
Headley hunkered down this past winter in the batting cage, devoting himself to creating more loft on the ball. New hitting coach Phil Plantier flew to Tennessee to talk hitting and to look at his swing. The mechanical changes Headley made were actually minimal.
Headley then put all of those elements together during the season.
"It's fun to watch a guy figure it all out and see him piece it together," Plantier said. "I don't see any reason why this isn't going to be normal production for him for the rest of his career. This is not a fluke. This is very real."