Every year since 1999, MLB has given out an American League and National League Hank Aaron Award. The Award — which honors Aaron, an all-time MLB legend — is given out to the best offensive player in each league. The winner is announced during the World Series.
This year, Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani is one of the nominees. If he wins, it would be the third time in the past eight years that an Angel has taken home the honors, as Mike Trout won in 2014 and 2019.
2021 is a particularly special year to be a finalist, and potentially win, for this award. It is the first time that this award is being given out since Aaron’s death in January of 2021.
Ohtani is not a lock to win this award the way some consider him to be for AL MVP. The Hank Aaron Award is strictly for offensive production and does not take into account any other aspect of the game. The finalists are as follows.
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics
Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants
Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
Nick Castellanos, Cincinatti Reds
Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals
In the American League, Guerrero Jr. will likely be considered the favorite, with Ohtani close behind. The Blue Jays star had a remarkable season at the plate, slashing .311/.401/.601 for a 1.002 OPS. He hit a league-leading 48 home runs — tied with Perez — to go along with 111 RBIs and 123 runs scored. His OPS+ was an absurd 169, he had a K-to-BB ratio of just 1.28, and held a 6.8 WAR.
The National League is a little harder to predict. Any of Tatis Jr, Soto, or Harper could realistically walk away with the award. All had incredible offensive seasons, with counting stats favoring Tatis and advanced analytics favoring Harper. Soto rests in the middle in both categories.