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Bruce earns first career Silver Slugger Award

Bruce earns first career Silver Slugger Award

Bruce earns first career Silver Slugger Award

CINCINNATI -- Each year he's been in the Major Leagues since debuting in 2008, Reds right fielder Jay Bruce has set career highs in the big offensive categories.

As the numbers keep climbing, so does the respect Bruce has received. On Thursday, the 25-year-old was named a National League Silver Slugger winner for the first time in his career.

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The award, given to the best offensive players at each position, is determined by voting among the league's managers and coaches. Voters were not permitted to select players from their own clubs.

Bruce, who was the lone Reds player to earn a Silver Slugger for 2012, is the first outfielder from the team to win one since Eric Davis in 1989. Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips won a Silver Slugger in 2011.

"Honestly, it's humbling to be mentioned with all of the guys that have won it this year and won it in the past," Bruce said.

As a major component in the Reds' efforts to win the NL Central title, Bruce batted .252 with career bests in home runs (34), RBIs (99), slugging percentage (.514) and doubles (35).

Bruce wasn't entirely thrilled with his season, however. His 155 strikeouts were three shy of the career high he set in 2011. Consistency remains somewhat elusive as he had his best months in April and August, when he hit .290 or better and seven homers each month. But he batted .229 in May, .213 in July and .228 in September.

"I think I just got marginally better," Bruce said. "I made some improvements in some areas that are nice and honestly garnered me this award. There is still plenty of work to be done. I really, really think I am better than what I've shown so far. I'm still not satisfied and still a little disappointed in some ways with my season. Obviously this award helps a lot with that to be honest with you."

Only three players in the Majors during 2012 had at least 35 doubles, 34 homers and 99 RBIs -- Bruce, the Brewers' Ryan Braun and Tigers Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.

Bruce and Frank Robinson are the only two players in Reds history to produce at least 20 homers in each of their first five seasons. Bruce is also the first player in Major League history to hit at least 20 long balls as a rookie and increase that total in each of the next four seasons, hitting 21 homers in 2008, 22 in '09, 25 in 2010 and 32 in 2011. He leads all active players under 26 with 134 homers and 376 RBIs for his career.

"It's nice, but there's definitely a lot of work to be done," Bruce said. "I think I can get better. I don't think I am done yet."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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