Shohei Ohtani, Bryce Harper Among Finalists for 2021 Hank Aaron Award

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVOctober 8, 2021

Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani heads home on his solo home run against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Add another accomplishment to Shohei Ohtani's resume.

The Los Angeles Angels star was named a finalist for the Hank Aaron Award on Friday. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, he's the first player in league history who also pitches to be nominated. The award started in 1999 and recognizes the best offensive player in each league.

Here are the finalists:

American League

  • Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
  • Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
  • Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles
  • Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics
  • Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
  • Jose Ramirez, Cleveland

National League

  • Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
  • Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
  • Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
  • Nick Castellanos, Cincinnati Reds
  • Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants
  • Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
  • Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals

The winners will be announced in November and are decided by a voting panel featuring eight Hall of Fame players along with a fan vote.

This is the first time the award will be handed out since the legendary Hank Aaron died in January at age 86. The Hall of Famer played 23 seasons with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers and retired as Major League Baseball's all-time home run leader with 755.

Barry Bonds has surpassed him with 762 long balls, but Aaron remains second on the all-time list.

As for this year's award, Ohtani figures to be on the short list of favorites in the American League. His two-way brilliance was one of the biggest storylines of the season as he launched 46 home runs to go with 100 RBI while anchoring the Angels pitching staff.

He finished the season with a 3.18 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 156 strikeouts in 130.1 innings.

The fact that this award is for offense only gives other players a better chance than in the AL MVP race. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was a force for the Blue Jays and slashed .311/.401/.601 with 48 home runs and 111 RBI, while Salvador Perez set the record for home runs by a catcher in a season with 48.

The National League features plenty of star power as well.

The race could come down to former Washington Nationals star Bryce Harperβ€”who slashed .309/.429/.615 with 35 home runs and 84 RBI for the Philadelphia Philliesβ€”and current Nationals star Juan Soto, who put up a .313/.465/.534 line with 29 home runs and 95 RBI.


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