Ohtani, Acuña pad trophy cases with Hank Aaron Awards

December 17th, 2023

and  added some more hardware to their respective trophy cases on Saturday when they were named the 2023 Hank Aaron Award winners in their respective leagues.

The Hank Aaron Award, which was established in 1999, annually recognizes the best offensive performer in the American and National League.

This year's winners should come as little surprise given that Ohtani and Acuña each won his league's Most Valuable Player Award in unanimous fashion last month. Of the 50 Hank Aaron Award winners, 26 were named MVP that same year.

As far as the selection process, all 30 teams nominate one player for the honor, then a panel of MLB.com writers select 16 finalists -- eight from each league. The winners were chosen by a voting panel made up of Hall of Famers, including Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Eddie Murray and Robin Yount. A fan vote at MLB.com was also included in the results.

Here is a closer look at this year's winners:

AL: Shohei Ohtani, Angels

While the MVP selection process obviously factors in Ohtani's pitching prowess, the Hank Aaron Award is based strictly on offensive performance -- and Ohtani still did plenty to take home the honor.

Pitching accomplishments aside, Ohtani led all hitters with a .654 slugging percentage, a 1.066 OPS and a 184 OPS+. He also racked up an AL-best 44 home runs to go with 20 stolen bases and eight triples.

To put those numbers in perspective, the only players in AL/NL history with at least 40 homers, 20 steals, five triples and a .650 slugging percentage are Ohtani and Willie Mays in 1955. That's the full list.

Rounding out Ohtani's offensive numbers, he hit .304 while also leading the AL in on-base percentage (.412) and total bases (325) on his way to becoming the first two-time unanimous MVP in MLB history.

This is the first career Hank Aaron Award for Ohtani and the third to be won by an Angels player (Mike Trout in 2014 and '19).

NL: Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves

Acuña finished his historic 2023 campaign with 41 home runs and 73 stolen bases, making him the inaugural member of Major League Baseball’s 40-70 club.

Not only was Acuña the first player with a 40-70 season, but he’s just the fifth with even a 40-40 season. The only other players in that exclusive group are Alfonso Soriano (2006), Alex Rodriguez (1998), Barry Bonds (1996) and Jose Canseco (1988). Acuña’s .337 average this season was easily the highest within any of those 40-40 campaigns.

As if that wasn't enough, Acuña also led all of MLB this season in hits (217), runs (149), total bases (383) and on-base percentage (.416). His 1.012 OPS and 168 OPS+ paced all NL hitters.

Acuña had 12 games this season in which he both homered and stole a base. The only player with more such games in a single season is Rickey Henderson, who accomplished the feat 13 times in 1986.

Acuña is the third Braves player to win the Hank Aaron Award, joining Freddie Freeman (2020) and Andruw Jones (2005).