LOS ANGELES -- Jose Altuve of the Astros and Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins were presented on Wednesday with the coveted Hank Aaron Award as the most outstanding offensive performers in their respective leagues, based on a combination of voting by fans at MLB.com and a special panel of Hall
LOS ANGELES -- Jose Altuve of the Astros and Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins were presented on Wednesday with the coveted Hank Aaron Award as the most outstanding offensive performers in their respective leagues, based on a combination of voting by fans at MLB.com and a special panel of Hall of Famers led by the award's legendary namesake.
Aaron joined Commissioner Rob Manfred at Dodger Stadium before Game 2 of the World Series presented by YouTube TV to hand out the trophies to the two All-Stars, who represented an overall regular season that was off the charts offensively in MLB.
"Jose Altuve and Giancarlo Stanton are two of our sport's elite offensive performers," Manfred said. "While they have contrasting styles of play, Jose and Giancarlo demonstrate that talent, character and work ethic -- attributes synonymous with the life and career of Hank Aaron -- are the keys to success in our great game. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I congratulate both players on their many contributions to a memorable 2017 season."
"I am very proud of these two young men for their great accomplishments on the field, as well as how they carry themselves off the field," said Aaron, who hit 755 career home runs. "Not only are Jose and Giancarlo two tremendous baseball talents, but they also are wonderful ambassadors of our great sport and truly epitomize everything that is dear to me about baseball."
Altuve, appearing in uniform before rejoining his Astros teammates for Game 2, became the first Houston player to win a Hank Aaron Award. He received the American League honor after becoming the first player to lead either league in hits outright for four consecutive years. The Venezuela native led the Majors in batting average by hitting .346 while leading the AL with 204 hits. Altuve finished tied for second in the AL in runs (112); ranked third in steals (32), OPS (.957) and on-base percentage (.410); and was seventh in slugging (.547). He had 24 home runs, 81 RBIs and 39 doubles.
Leading the Astros to 101 victories, Altuve hit a Major League-best .441 (26-for-59) with a .661 slugging percentage and a 1.190 OPS in close-and-late situations. The five-time All-Star also batted .361 from the seventh inning on and .342 with two outs. He became just the fourth right-handed hitter in Major League history to reach 200 hits in four or more consecutive seasons (per the Elias Sports Bureau), joining Michael Young (2003-07) and Hall of Famers Kirby Puckett (1986-89) and Al Simmons (1929-33).
"I'm more nervous now than I was yesterday while I was playing. I don't know why," Altuve said in accepting the trophy. "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."
For Stanton, this marks his second Hank Aaron Award in the National League, following his 2014 recognition. In his eighth season, Stanton put on a spectacular show by leading all Major Leaguers with franchise records of 59 home runs and 132 RBIs, both career highs. His 59 roundtrippers were the most in a season since 2001, leading MLB's overall record binge of 6,105. Of Stanton's total, 26 gave the Marlins the lead, matching Hall of Famer Jim Rice (1978) for the second most in MLB since 1974, behind Mark McGwire's 30 in '98.
Stanton -- a Southern California native now watching his boyhood-favorite Dodgers club go against Altuve's Astros -- batted .281 with 32 doubles, 85 walks, a 1.007 OPS and a .376 on-base percentage. Stanton homered nine times in 10 games from Aug. 4-13, a Marlins record for a 10-game span, and 23 times in 35 games from July 5 to Aug. 15. His 18 homers in August tied Rudy York (1937) for the most hit in the month. Stanton finished 2017 with 267 career homers, a total that is the eighth most through a player's first eight seasons -- two ahead of Hall of Famer Ted Williams (265) and two behind Hall of Famer Ernie Banks (269). Stanton's 28 multihomer games since his rookie season of '10 are the most in MLB.
"I'd like to thank the voters and Hank for his kind words and always supporting me," Stanton said. "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."
Manfred said his favorite part of Stanton's season was his incredible August eruption, when he ran away with the Majors' home run lead. Stanton was asked what it felt like to be in that zone.
"Try to do everything the exact same every day," Stanton said. "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."
Stanton deflected a pair of questions about his future in Miami, where there is a new ownership group.
"I think we're all going to take care of that after the World Series," said Stanton. "... I don't know, to be honest. I've had thoughts on both sides, but I don't know any specifics."
Established in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record, the Hank Aaron Awards are officially sanctioned by MLB. Fans voted for the recipients on MLB.com, and for the eighth straight year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Aaron joined fans in voting. The Hall of Fame panel includes some of the greatest offensive players of all time, such as Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio (in attendance for Altuve at the ceremony), Ken Griffey Jr., Eddie Murray and Robin Yount. These Hall of Famers -- who combined for 17,010 hits, 8,844 RBIs and 2,275 homers -- were all personally selected by Aaron to lend their expertise to select the best offensive performer in each league.
Past winners of the Aaron Awards include Kristopher Bryant and David Ortiz (2016); Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper ('15); Stanton and Michael Trout ('14); Jose Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt ('13); Cabrera and Buster Posey ('12); Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp ('11); Bautista and Joey Votto ('10); Derek Jeter and Jose Pujols ('09); Aramis Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis ('08); Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder ('07); Jeter and Ryan Howard ('06); Ortiz and Andruw Jones ('05); Manny Ramirez and Barry Bonds ('04); Rodriguez and Pujols ('03); Rodriguez and Bonds ('01-02); Carlos Delgado and Todd Helton ('00); and Ramirez and Sammy Sosa (1999).
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Follow him on Twitter @Marathoner and read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub.