SAN DIEGO – Six Latin Americans, led by five Dominicans, are part of the list of finalists for the Hank Aaron Award, announced Wednesday the office of the Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner, which each year presents the award during the World Series for recognize the best pure hitter on each circuit.
Each team nominated one candidate, and a MLB.com panel narrowed the final roster to seven per league.
The Dominicans Nelson Cruz, of the Minnesota Twins; José Ramírez, of the Cleveland Indians, and Teoscar Hernández, of the Toronto Blue Jays, and Cuban José Abreu, of the Chicago White Sox, are among the seven candidates for the trophy in the American League.
In the National League, Juan Soto, from the Washington Nationals, and Manny Machado, from the San Diego Padres, entered as finalists.
The other finalists are Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves; Corey Seager, of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dominic Smith, of the New York Mets, and Paul Goldschmidt, of the St. Louis Cardinals, on the old circuit, while Mike Trout, of the Los Angeles Angels; DJ LeMahieu of the New York Yankees and Brandon Lowe of the Tampa Bay Rays were singled out in the AL.
The Hank Aaron Award was created by Major League Baseball in 1999 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking the Major League Baseball home run record held by Babe Ruth. For a decade, a special panel of Cooperstown Hall of Famers, including Aaron, has had a percentage of the election process, which also engages fans via the internet.
Abreu, a favorite on the Most Valuable Player (MVP) circuit, awarded by baseball writers, led the American League in hits (76), Slugging (.617), total bases (148) and RBIs (60) and was second in home runs.
Ramirez, another solid MVP contender, hit .292 and led his league with 45 runs scored and 34 extra-base hits, was second in OPS (.993) and total bases (133), third in Slugging (.607), home runs (17) and Rushed (46) and fifth in steals (10).
At 40 years old and in his final year of contract with Minnesota, Cruz hit 303 with 16 homers, 33 runs scored and 33 RBIs in 53 games. Hernandez was a wonderful revelation for Toronto, hitting .289 with 16 home runs and 34 RBIs in 50 games.
In the second year of a $ 300 million contract, Machado was the perfect complement to fellow countryman Fernando Tatis, helping the Padres reach the postseason for the first time in 14 years. The magic glove third baseman hit .304 with 17 homers, 47 RBIs and a .580 slugging.
Soto, who started the season on the coronavirus list, led the MLB in OPS (1,185), Slugging (.695) and OBP (.490) and in his league he was also the youngest batting monarch in history, with average of .351. In 48 games and 154 at-bats, Soto had 54 hits (14 doubles and 13 home runs), drove in 37 runs, scored 39, stole six bases and walked 41 with 28 strikeouts.
In the history of the award, 11 Hispanic players have won 20 Hank Aaron trophies. 14 of those statuettes have been conquered by Dominicans (4 by Alex Rodríguez and 2 by David Ortiz, Manny Ramírez, Albert Pujols and José Bautista, and one for Sammy Sosa and Aramis Ramírez). The Venezuelans Miguel Cabrera (twice) and Jose Altuve, the Puerto Rican Carlos Delgado, the Curaçao Andruw Jones and the Cuban-American JD Martínez, were the others.