On Tuesday night, Major League Baseball announced the 2021 Hank Aaron Award winners. The Aaron Award is given to the best overall offensive player in each league, as determined by a panel of Hall of Fame players and a fan vote. Prior to Tuesday, each league's candidate pool had been chiseled down to seven finalists apiece.
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper was named the National League's recipient. Harper hit .309/.429/.615 (179 OPS+) with 35 home runs and 84 runs batted in during the regular season. His 170 wRC+ -- a catch-all metric at FanGraphs that adjusts for ballpark, among other variables -- led all qualifying hitters.
Harper beat out a packed NL field that also included Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves), Nick Castellanos (Cincinnati Reds), Fernando Tatis Jr. (San Diego Padres), Brandon Crawford (San Francisco Giants), Paul Goldschmidt (St. Louis Cardinals), and Juan Soto (Washington Nationals).
Over in the American League, the hardware went to Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. During the regular season, he batted .311/.401/.601 (169 OPS+) with 48 home runs and 111 runs batted in. Guerrero's 166 wRC+ was the second-highest in the majors, trailing only the aforementioned Harper.
Guerrero received the honors ahead of an AL bunch that included Cedric Mullins (Baltimore Orioles), José Ramírez (Cleveland Guardians), Salvador Perez (Kansas City Royals), Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels), Aaron Judge (New York Yankees), and Matt Olson (Oakland Athletics).
In addition to a fan vote, a special panel of Hall of Famers. Here's MLB on how the winners are chosen:
Whereas the MVP is voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, the Hank Aaron Award is decided by a special panel of Hall of Fame players (Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, Pedro Martinez, Eddie Murray, John Smoltz and Robin Yount ) personally selected by Hammerin' Hank and a fan vote at MLB.com. All 30 teams submitted a candidate, and seven finalists in each league were determined by a panel of MLB.com writers.
It's worth noting that both Harper and Guerrero were each named finalists for their respective leagues' Most Valuable Player Award on Monday night. It's not clear that either is a favorite to win those awards, however, meaning they may have to settle for the Aaron Award as their grand prize.
You can check out the full breakdown of finalists, for those awards and several others, by clicking here.