2021 Hank Aaron Award Winners

“I think this is the greatest thrill of my life.” That’s how legendary Hank Aaron described the award named after him when he appeared on MLB Network last December. The following month, Aaron died at age 86. And so the prestigious Hank Aaron Award, established in 1999 and presented annually to the best offensive performer in each competition, takes on added significance this year.

The winners of the 2021 Hank Aaron Award were announced on MLB Network on Tuesday, with Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took home the American League honors and Phillies rightfielder Bryce Harper won in the National League.

The winners were chosen by a panel of Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, Pedro Martinez, Eddie Murray, John Smoltz and Robin Yount and a fan vote on MLB.com. Each major league club nominated one player from its team to qualify, and a panel of MLB.com writers determined the seven finalists from each league.

Here’s a closer look at this year’s winners.

EN: Bryce Harper, Phillies

In the third season of the historic 13-year $330 million deal he signed with the Phillies in March 2019, Harper led the Majors with a .615 slugging percentage and an OPS of 1.044 while hitting .309. The outfielder crushed 35 home runs and produced an MLB-leading 42 doubles over 141 games.

Harper gave his best in his last 58 games to keep the Phillies in the postseason chase through the last day of September.

Freddie Freeman (Braves), Nick Castellanos (Reds), Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres), Brandon Crawford (Giants), Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals) and Juan Soto (Nationals) were the other NL finalists.

AL: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays

After his 22-year season, Guerrero is the fourth Blue Jays player to win the Hank Aaron Award, along with Carlos Delgado (2000), Jose Bautista (2010, 2011) and Josh Donaldson (2015).

Guerrero tied Royals catcher Salvador Perez for the Major League lead with 48 homeruns and finished first in the AL in on-base percentage (.401) and slugging (.601). No MLB player had more runs scored (123) or total bases (363) than Guerrero, who played in all but one of Toronto’s games.

The young slugger was a constant force for the Blue Jays all season, with an OPS of .941 in every month except one (.786 in August), and he was unfazed by the team that played at three home parks all season. He had 11 home runs and a 1,418 OPS over 21 games at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, 10 home runs and a 1,180 OPS over 23 games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, NY, and 10 home runs and a .935 OPS at Rogers Center in Toronto.

Guerrero defeated Perez, Cedric Mullins (Orioles), José Ramírez (Cleveland), Shohei Ohtani (Angels), Aaron Judge (Yankees), and Matt Olson (Athletics) for the Hank Aaron Award in the AL.

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