BRIAN KENNY: Welcome, everybody. This is the 2017 Hank Aaron Award winners. We are here to name the winners. The winners of the most outstanding offensive performer in the National League and the American League. The winners were selected through a combination of a fan vote on MLB.com and also a panel of Hall of Famers, led by the award's namesake, Hank Aaron, along with Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey, Jr., Eddie Murray, and Robin Yount.
Let me first introduce the dais: The Commissioner of Baseball, Rob Manfred. This is also such a special event and such an annual highlight because we are joined by the man who the award is named after, the all-time great, Hank Aaron. We are also joined by Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins, and Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros in uniform.
So let me now introduce the Commissioner of Baseball, Rob Manfred.
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Thank you, Brian. This is the 19th year that we have honored Hank Aaron and his tremendous career by giving out the Hank Aaron Award. The award goes each year to the outstanding offensive player in each League. Mr. Aaron not only had a wonderful, historic Major League career, but he's been a great ambassador for the game, both while he was active as a player and since he's retired. He's also been a great gentleman and friend to me.
I'd like to thank the Hall of Fame voters, who participated along with Mr. Aaron in the selection of this year's winners, we have one of them in the audience, Craig Biggio. Thank you, Craig, and also the fans, who voted on MLB.com.
This year's American League winner is Jose Altuve. He's the first Astro ever to receive the Hank Aaron Award. For the fourth year in a row Jose led the American League in hits, with 204; it's the first time any player has ever done that. He batted .346 this year. He won his executive Rod Carew American League Batting Championship this year, and most important he propelled the offense that led the Astros to the World Series. So Jose, congratulations to you. (Applause.)
Here's a shock, the National League winner, Giancarlo Stanton. This is the second time that you've been here as a Hank Aaron Award winner, the first time in 2014. He had an amazing year in 2017. 59 home runs, 132 RBI. My favorite part of the season, however, was the month of August: He hit 18 home runs in the month of August, tying a Major League record that had stood for 80 years. It's really quite an accomplishment.
And around all that great performance on the field, he made time to be our ambassador for the All-Star Game in Miami. And I personally want to thank you for all the good work you did while we were down there that week. Congratulations to you, as well. (Applause.)
BRIAN KENNY: This is a special time, a link to history to have the all-time great here. Hank, if you'd like to say a few words, Henry Aaron. (Applause.)
HANK AARON: First, let me say I want to give thanks to the Commissioner of Baseball, Mr. Rob Manfred, thank you very much.
Second, I'd like to thank all of the Hall of Famers who took time out from their busy schedule to vote for these two wonderful gentlemen.
Altuve and also Stanton. Stanton has won this award, this is his second time. Like always, you make a habit of doing something, you can do it over and over and over again. Looking forward to having you here next year. But the most important thing is that -- let's talk about this young man, here, right now. And the reason I want to talk about him is because most people that I talk to said, Get a picture. Talk to him. See if he's for real. Is he for real? I know he's for real.
And I just want to say congratulations to you, Altuve, a wonderful year, not only for this year, but last year, also. I mean, you have stood tall. You have done everything that not only anybody that ever played the game, but everybody that wants to play the game. It doesn't make any difference whether you're five feet tall or six feet tall, as long as you've got the warmth and the know-how and the drive to do it, and you have demonstrated that. But I want to congratulate you for all of the things that you have done, really. You have been wonderful, and not many people I would pay to go see, but I tell you, I would pay to go see him. (Applause.)
He's wonderful. And I just want to congratulate him on this award.
BRIAN KENNY: Jose, please.
Video: Altuve on winning 2017 Hank Aaron Award
JOSE ALTUVE: Well, first of all. Thanks, Hank. I'm more nervous now than I was yesterday while I was playing. I don't know why. But I feel blessed to be here. I thank God for the opportunity to be sitting here with Giancarlo with the Commissioner and Mr. Hank. What can I say? Thanks to all the Hall of Famers and fans, that made this dream come true. This is so important for me.
And even more that I'm in uniform. Nothing against you, Giancarlo, but this means a lot for me to win this award and be in my jersey, still playing for my city back in Houston. And thanks again. (Applause.)
GIANCARLO STANTON: I'd like to thank the voters and Hank for his kind words and always supporting me. Yeah, it's my second one, but it's just as special. And just hearing from all the old-school players on what type of player Hank was and the attitude he brought, it's similar to how I design my game. So I appreciate it and it's a great honor for me. (Applause.)
HANK AARON: I know Altuve, he's got to leave. If you've got some questions for him, he would like to answer them so he can get back to his team.
Q. Jose, I want to ask you, when you were a young child growing up, what did you think when you heard the name Hank Aaron?
JOSE ALTUVE: 755 homers, is what he's here to say, that he hit 755 homers, believe it.
Q. Jose, accepting this award, does it give you confidence going into Game 2?
JOSE ALTUVE: Tough question. Yesterday was a great game. In the end they won. We've got to go with the same attitude that we've had all season long. We have one of the best pitchers today on the mound, and that's what I think that gives me a little confidence, Justin Verlander who works hard, a hundred percent every day. And it's really fun to play behind him.
Q. Jose, how tall do you feel right now next to this gentleman?
JOSE ALTUVE: Super tall (laughter). Taller than any other day.
Q. No matter who hands you that wonderful award, just talk about how special it is to receive from him.
JOSE ALTUVE: It's really special. And I really need to thank him for what he just said about me. I really appreciate it. It's nothing that I can say more about this guy that any of you guys don't know. You all know what he did, 755 homers, that is crazy.
And I also want to thank these three gentlemen right here from the Houston Astros. It's a great organization. I appreciate everything they have done from me. Craig, coming down to the field every single day and talking to me. When I don't feel really good, he comes to me, make me feel way better, and he brings me back the energy that I need to play. Thank you, guys.
Video: Stanton on winning 2017 Hank Aaron Award
Q. Giancarlo, what's the difference with this second award?
GIANCARLO STANTON: It's just as good. I got to hang out with Hank a little more this time, pick his brain a little bit. I'm going to enjoy it and put it next to the other one.
Q. Hank, now that Jose is out of the room, are you going for the Dodgers or the Astros?
HANK AARON: (Laughing). Oh, boy, my little granddaughter told me not to get myself involved in that. (Laughter). She said stay neutral.
To be honest with you, I think that the game that we saw last night was truly a typical World Series game. I think that game, watching it and the way it was played, it really brings fans back to the game, really. You see a game like that and in a hurry played like that, the pitchers played -- and I think that both teams, they're both very good teams, and either one could win it. Either one could win it.
And I just want to wish at this time, wish the Houston Astros and the Dodgers the best of luck.
Q. I just want to say, besides all the number of homers that you hit in your career, could you just talk about a couple of other highlights that you feel a sentimental connection to over your career, as well?
HANK AARON: Thank you. That's a very good question. I think the thing that I marvel at as I look at my career is not so much the home runs, but I think runs scored and runs batted in is the thing that I think I marvel at more than anything. Because I think those two, the home runs and the runs batted in, when you start thinking about those two things, you start thinking about you're making a vital contribution to your team. The home runs can be good. I'm not taking anything away from you, but I'm just saying that for me I always felt like at the beginning of the season that if I felt like I could bat in over a hundred runs and score over a hundred runs, I could be doing something for my team.
Q. The Commissioner mentioned the month of August. Could you give us insight into what it's like to be in that kind of a zone when you were on fire the way you were and what it was like riding through that?
GIANCARLO STANTON: Try to do everything the exact same every day. It was fun. It was a fun challenge. If I didn't hit one for a few days, getting back at it to contribute and try to make something happen. But I'd say the biggest part was just having a plan and sticking to it, and knowing who's out there on the mound.
Q. Have you had any communication with Derek (Jeter) or anyone from the new ownership group since they've come in on the team, and any indication whether they're going to try to shop you?
GIANCARLO STANTON: From the new ownership group, no. I think we're all going to take care of that after the World Series.
Q. Do you have any gut feeling one way or another?
GIANCARLO STANTON: I don't know, to be honest. I've had thoughts on both sides, but I don't know any specifics.
Q. Henry, you hit the first home run I ever saw at The Coliseum against Don Drysdale. And now that you're back here in LA, what are your best recollections of playing either here at Dodger Stadium or at the Coliseum? And Giancarlo, does it make it a little bit more special, receiving it not far from Notre Dame?
HANK AARON: This has been probably one of the toughest ballparks I ever played in, really, to be honest with you. And I don't know whether it's because the travel is so different. You come out of here, and you're three hours behind. But I never had good luck against the Dodgers in this ballpark. I had better luck with them in Atlanta.
But they had good pitching. They always say good pitching stops good hitting. They stopped me somehow. But I kind of took care of business when they were in Atlanta.
GIANCARLO STANTON: Yeah, definitely cool to me. I've been to this park more than any other, by far. So just to have my friends and family that are here, being able to watch -- we came to watch games here together. Now they're watching me get this, it's pretty cool.
Q. If the new ownership is going to kind of tear down and reduce payroll, under what circumstances would you want to stay with the Marlins or would you want to go some place with a chance to win?
GIANCARLO STANTON: I'll figure out those plans and the specifics when we get there. I don't have stamped-out ideas for that.
Q. Mr. Aaron, you're such a big inspiration for many generations, children, not-so-young people around the world, in every language. What does that mean to you?
HANK AARON: I hope I'm answering your question. I think the most important thing to me is that when I got out of baseball, I wanted to know that was -- then Commissioner, Bud Selig, of course, was the then Commissioner, and he wanted to know what I wanted to do with my life. And I told him that I didn't want somebody to give me Coca-Colas or an automobile. I wanted to make sure that whatever I did, that it would be significant to other people across the country. And the most important thing that I did for my life and my wife is to get a home run, Chasing the Dream Foundation. Helping kids of all races, black, white, green, whatever. And we've been having that foundation for a long time.
And just the other day, just the other day, I was at Notre Dame, and they got two kids they gave two scholarships to, full scholarships, two full scholarships, and that is all over the world. So that makes me really feel good about myself in spite of the money, in spite of all the things that I accomplished in baseball, the most important thing is the fact that I am able to help those kids dream about something that they always wanted to do and reached something in life themselves.
Q. Mr. Aaron, how big or how deep inside of you for what you are as a person belongs to your grandparents or a spiritual leader?
HANK AARON: I would say almost 90 percent of whatever you see in me, my parents gave it to me. They made sure that no matter whatever I receive in life, no matter how many home runs I hit, no matter how many bases I steal, whatever it is, is that the only reason that I'm where I am today is because of the way that they brought me up.
Q. Giancarlo, since you did come to so many games here as a kid with your family, since your team is not in it, are you rooting for the Dodgers? And would you be here watching the World Series tonight if you weren't getting this award?
GIANCARLO STANTON: No, I'd probably be watching it on TV. But I'm with Hank, too; I want a good series, and I want my friends to do well and whoever wins, wins. It won't be me, so it doesn't matter (laughter).
BRIAN KENNY: Thank you so much, everybody, for coming out.