The Hank Aaron Award is given to the best pure offensive player in the American and National League each year. This year, there were seven finalists in each league, including the eventual winners, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays and Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani was among the American League finalists. However, he was not expected to win given that this is an offense-only award. As remarkable as Ohtani was at the plate this season, he was not the best bat in the AL.
Guerrero absolutely earned this prestigious honor after an incredible season at the plate. A .311 batting average, 1.002 OPS, 48 home runs, and 111 RBIs all make a compelling argument, but the advanced stats paint an incredible picture as well. He held a 162 wRC+, a .413 xwOBA, and a 6.7 WAR.
With the win, he became the youngest player to ever win the Hank Aaron Award, currently at just 22 years of age and not being 23 until the start of next season.
In the National League, Harper was equally deserving. His .615 slugging and 1.044 OPS led all of baseball, along with his 170 wRC+. He had worthy adversaries such as Fernando Tatis Jr., but he was undoubtedly the best hitter in his league. The home run and RBI totals hurt his case to be baseball’s best hitter, but he was still incredible in 2021.
The unveiling of the Hank Aaron Award winners is just the start of daily announcements. Between now and November 29, there will be a different award winner presented on almost every weekday.
Ohtani named MVP finalist
The only Angels player to be nominated for a major award, Ohtani is officially up for the grand prize. He was named a finalist on Monday for the American League MVP award alongside Hank Aaron Award winner Guerrero and his Blue Jays teammate Marcus Semien.