Nine Hank Aaron Award nominees include Aaron Judge, three Yankees targets

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge won the Hank Aaron Award in 2022.

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Yankees captain Aaron Judge and three other stars the team is reportedly trying to land are among the nine MLB players nominated for the annual Hank Aaron Award. This prestigious accolade celebrates the exceptional offensive prowess of a player during the regular season in both the American and National Leagues.

A panel of esteemed MLB.com journalists meticulously scrutinized a multitude of offensive statistics, remarkable achievements, and standout performances from the regular season to handpick the nine finalists in both leagues.

The inception of the Hank Aaron Award dates back to 1999, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s historic feat in surpassing Yankees legend Babe Ruth‘s all-time home run record. It holds a special place in MLB history, being the first major award introduced by Major League Baseball in over a quarter-century.

Aaron Judge’s nomination

Emulating his own record-setting 2022 season, in which he established a new AL record with an astonishing 62 home runs, proved to be a challenging feat for Aaron Judge, even for the reigning 2022 AL MVP and Hank Aaron Award recipient. Unfortunately, a right big toe injury disrupted his 2023 campaign for the Yankees, sidelining him for nearly two months. However, the Yankees slugger’s star power still shone brightly as he managed to crush 37 homers and maintain a formidable 1.019 OPS. These impressive numbers came despite the Yankees enduring a turbulent season marred by injuries and disappointing performances.

Yankees captain Aaron Judge
NYY

The prestigious Hank Aaron Award is an annual accolade bestowed upon the most outstanding offensive player in both the American and National Leagues. Recipients of this esteemed award are selected through a dual process, which combines the input of a panel comprised of Hall of Fame luminaries with the voices of passionate fans through a dedicated vote.

Other Yankees targets nominated for the award

Cody Bellinger, Cubs

The Yankees look to sign the slugger of the Chicago Cubs, Cody Bellinger

It appeared that Bellinger‘s peak performance at the plate might have come to an end based on his declining numbers from 2020 to 2022. However, he experienced a resurgence in his inaugural season with the Cubs, launching 26 home runs and contributing 97 RBIs to Chicago’s cause, all while maintaining an impressive slash line of .307/.356/.525. In addition, Bellinger swiped a career-high 20 bases. This season marked his most outstanding since he secured the NL MVP Award in 2019 with the Dodgers, rekindling optimism that Bellinger may still have several productive seasons ahead of him at the plate. The Yankees are a hot favorite to sign him this offseason.

Shohei Ohtani, Angels

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Twitter

Despite his untimely absence from the last four weeks of the season due to an oblique injury and right elbow surgery, Ohtani managed to deliver the most exceptional offensive performance in his already remarkable two-way career. His accomplishments included topping the Majors in slugging percentage (.654), OPS (1.066), and OPS+ (184). Furthermore, he led the AL in home runs (44), on-base percentage (.412), and total bases (325). Remarkably, while maintaining this offensive prowess, he also boasted a 3.14 ERA and an impressive 31.5 percent strikeout rate across 23 starts on the mound.

The Yankees are among his suitors who are trying to sign him for the 2024 season.

Juan Soto, Padres

San Diego outfielder Juan Soto
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Juan Soto, a target for the Yankees, had an “underwhelming” 2022 season compared to his usual high standards, but in 2023, he returned to his signature Soto-style performance. As is customary for him, he led all of MLB with an impressive 132 walks while setting a new career high with 35 home runs and contributing 109 RBIs. His batting average also saw a significant improvement, surging by 39 points to reach .275, and he boasted an impressive .929 OPS. In a season marked by deep disappointment for the Padres, who entered with high expectations, Soto’s resurgence provided a much-needed positive spark.

Who are the other nominated players?

Yordan Alvarez, Astros

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Despite being sidelined for a substantial portion of the season due to a right oblique injury, Alvarez’s performance in 2023 remains MVP-worthy. He had a .293 batting average, a .407 on-base percentage, and a slugging percentage of .583. He also contributed significantly with 31 home runs and 97 RBIs.

Yandy Diaz, Rays

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His power game saw substantial growth in 2023, as he achieved a slugging percentage of .522, accompanied by a career-high 35 doubles and 22 home runs.

Adolis García, Rangers

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Among these accomplishments were an impressive 108 runs scored, a career-high 39 home runs, a remarkable 107 RBIs, 65 walks, and improved rates of both on-base percentage (.328) and slugging percentage (.508).

Julio Rodríguez, Mariners

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economictimes

He has become the first player in both the AL and NL to commence his career with consecutive seasons of at least 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases. The 2022 AL Rookie of the Year solidified his place in the 30-30 club, launching 32 homers and swiping 37 bases in 2023. In August, he hit a remarkable 1.198 OPS and even shattered the record for hits in a four-game span across both leagues, amassing a staggering 17 hits from August 16-19.

Corey Seager, Rangers

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Seager’s batting average soared to .327, a remarkable 82-point increase from his 2022 stats. Furthermore, he showcased impressive power with a slugging percentage of .623 and claimed the top spot in the AL with 42 doubles, 96 RBIs, and 33 homers.

Marcus Semien, Rangers

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Semien had 185 hits, 100 RBIs, and an impressive 122 runs scored. Despite being 33 years old, Semien displayed his power by launching 29 home runs, and his performance garnered him a well-deserved second All-Star season accolade.

Kyle Tucker, Astros

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Tucker topped the AL charts with an impressive 112 RBIs and launched 29 homers. Notably, he achieved personal bests in walks, amassing 80, and in on-base percentage, boasting a .369 mark. Demonstrating his versatility, Tucker also notched a career-high in steals with 30.

Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves

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Acuna became the first player to hit 40 or more home runs (41) while also swiping 70 or more bases (73). This dazzling display of power included 37 homers, 217 hits, 149 runs, and 50 steals.

Luis Arraez, Marlins

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Arraez has a .354 batting average, accompanied by a career-best .862 OPS. Importantly, he crossed the 200-hit threshold for the first time in his career.

Mookie Betts, Dodgers

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Betts boasted a .307/.408/.579 batting line, setting a new career high with 39 home runs, 107 RBIs, and an impressive 126 runs scored.

Corbin Carroll, D-backs

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He became the first rookie in MLB history to achieve at least 25 home runs and 50 stolen bases in a single season. Additionally, he boasted a .868 OPS and led the league with an impressive 10 triples.

Freddie Freeman, Dodgers

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Freeman showcased his exceptional all-around hitting abilities with a remarkable 59 doubles and 23 stolen bases in a single season. Freeman’s batting line was equally impressive, as he maintained a .331 average, a .410 on-base percentage, and a .567 slugging percentage and notched 29 home runs, 102 RBIs, and an impressive 131 runs scored.

Bryce Harper, Phillies

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Harper’s season ended with an impressive .900 OPS, tallying 21 home runs, 72 RBIs, and 84 runs scored for the defending NL champions.

Matt Olson, Braves

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As the Braves’ first baseman, he delivered an MLB-best 139 RBIs, 54 home runs, scored 127 runs, and boasted an impressive .993 OPS, and a .604 slugging percentage.

The most prestigious award

The Hank Aaron Award stands as one of Major League Baseball’s most prestigious hitting honors, conferred annually to the top offensive player in each league. A panel of MLB.com writers undertakes a comprehensive review of all qualified hitters’ regular season performances. Analyzing both traditional metrics like home runs, batting average, and RBIs along with newer advanced data like OPS, they select nine finalists per league. From there, a combination of fan voting and additional judging determines each league’s winner.

Originally debuted in 1999, the award marked MLB’s first new major accolade in over a quarter century. It was introduced to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron surpassing Babe Ruth as baseball’s all-time home run king, an iconic 1974 achievement. The award now acts as an annual reminder of Aaron’s legendary career and offensive dominance.

In 2022, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge took home the American League edition after a season of eye-popping statistics and milestones.

Can Aaron Judge win it again this season? What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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