José Altuve of the Houston Astros and Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins were named winners of Major League Baseball's prestigious Hank Aaron Award on Wednesday.
Altuve, a shortstop and five-time All-Star led both leagues in batting, with a .346 batting average, and also led baseball in wins above replacement (WAR), a metric that identifies player on-field contributions. During 2017 Altuve also led the Astros' offense in hits, stolen bases, and was tied with teammate George Springer for the most runs, at 112.
Stanton, an outfielder and four-time All-Star led all of baseball in home runs, with a total of 59. Stanton also led baseball in runs batted in (RBIs) and led the National League in slugging and WAR.
The Hank Aaron Award is given each year to a player selected as the best hitter in each league, as voted by sports writers and baseball fans. The award is named after Baseball Hall of Fame member Hank Aaron, who was present at Dodger Stadium to present the awards just before first pitch. Last year's winners were Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and Chicago Cubs third baseman and 2017 NL MVP Kris Bryant.
Altuve and Stanton spoke about receiving the award and being honored by Aaron, and baseball commissioner Rob Manfred,
just before the start of World Series Game 2, Wednesday at a 4 P.M. press conference at Dodger Stadium.
"I'm more nervous right now than I was yesterday during the game," Altuve said. "This means a lot for me to win this award for my team and for people back home in the City of Houston."
"I'd like to think the voters and Hank for his kind words," Stanton said. "Yeah, it's my second one but this is just as special."
Stanton won the award previously in 2014 and is the only Miami Marlins player to receive the accolade. For Altuve it was also his first Hank Aaron Award and the Venezuelan infielder becomes the first-ever member of the Houston Astros bestowed with the award.
The Hank Aaron Award is typically the first award given out after the conclusion of the season and postseason championships series. It was instituted starting in 1999, to mark the 25th anniversary of Aaron, a 25-time All-Star and 20-year member of the Atlanta Braves, surpassing Babe Ruth's then-existing home run record of 714 home runs, in 1974.
Altuve was instrumental in the Astros' 101-win season and their march toward the World Series, also hitting a critical solo home run against the New York Yankees in the Astros' 4-0 win during Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. The matchup between the Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers constitutes the first time since 1970 in which two 100-plus win teams have met in the World Series.
Aaron commented that "there's not many people I'll go pay to see," but that he'd pay to see Altuve and Stanton.
Asked if he had a favorite in the World Series, Stanton, who grew up in Los Angeles, he opted instead to talk about the excitement of the matchup.
"I want a good series, I want my friends to do well, and whoever wins... wins."