LOS ANGELES -- As we get set for Game 3 of the 2018 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced the winners of the 2018 Hank Aaron Awards. The National League winner is Christian Yelich of the Brewers while Red Sox cleanup hitter J.D. Martinez took the AL honors.
The Hank Aaron Award was introduced in 1999 by Major League Baseball to honor the top hitter in each league. TV and radio broadcasters for each team get to vote for a top three and fans can take part on MLB.com as well, with 70 percent of the weight on the vote going to the broadcasters and 30 percent to the fans.
"Let me thank the commissioner," Hank Aaron said at the award presentation. "Let me thank all who voted for these two young men. I watched Christian and I watched J.D., and I watched Major League Baseball in its entirety. But the most important thing I think, the thing that makes you proud of is the fact that in Christian's year that he had, he came that close, that close, I say 'that close,' I mean really close of winning the Triple Crown."
"I want to congratulate J.D. for such an outstanding year he had, not only himself, but his entire team."
Martinez, 31, hit .330/.402/.629 with 37 doubles, 43 homers and 130 RBI this season. He led the AL in RBI and total bases while posting a 173 OPS+. I can't imagine there will be much disputing this choice. In a fun little twist, this is the third straight year a winner of this award was playing in the World Series while presented with the award (Kris Bryant, 2016; Jose Altuve, 2017).
Yelich, 26, hit .326/.402/.598 (164 OPS+) with 34 doubles, seven triples, 36 homers, 110 RBI and 118 runs. He led the NL in average, slugging, OPS, OPS+ and total bases. Again, I don't see much to dispute on this one. Pretty easy call.
Another fun twist: Both of these players were in their first year with their teams.