Votto, Bautista win the Hank Aaron Award

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Now that BBWAA voters have imposed a defacto “no pitchers allowed” rule on the MVP, it has become a hitting award with unnecessary complications.  In light of that, I like the Hank Aaron Award’s stated purpose of simply honoring offense. It takes out all of that “who was more clutch” and “who carried their team” nonsense that the MVP award so frequently dredges up. And the Aaron Award winners were announced yesterday: Joey Votto in the NL, Jose Bautista in the AL.

Votto hit .324 with 37 home runs and 113 RBI, posted a .424 OBP and slugged .600.  His season was very, very close to Albert Pulos in most categories. Pujols had 52 more plate appearances, but Votto’s rate stats were a tad higher, mostly due to his batting average. Pujols was probably a tad better, but we’re really splitting hairs to get to that point. With seasons as similar as those two, I don’t think you can really fault going with one over the other.

The choice of Bautista was a little more curious. He hit 54 home runs,  drove in 124 and slugged .617. He also took 100 walks, so it’s not like he was totally one-dimensional out there.  But even with all of those homers, he was out-slugged by both Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera and got on base at a much lower clip than either of those two. Seems like the voters made the mistake of thinking that Hank Aaron was just about the home runs — he most certainly wasn’t — and gave his namesake award to the biggest home run hitter rather than the best offensive player in the AL.

But let’s not get too worked up about the voters either: the panel consists of Hall of Famers, including Aaron himself, Tony Gwynn, Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Paul Molitor, Billy Williams and Robin Yount. Oh, and there’s a fan vote too. So no, not exactly a conclave of analysis wizards here. And I don’t have a problem with that.

The Giants are interested in Evan Longoria

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today says that the San Francisco Giants “have keen interest” in Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.

Longoria is coming off his worst season as a major leaguer, having hit .261/.313/.424 with 20 homers in 2017. He’s also still owed $86 million through 2022. Which, back when the deal was signed seemed like quite a bargain for the Rays — and likely has been over the duration of the contract — but now seems somewhat steep for the 32 year-old third baseman. That said, the Giants currently have Pablo Sandoval penciled in at third base on their depth chart, so Longoria would definitely be an upgrade, even if 2017’s dip wasn’t just a blip.

Nightengale says that for the Giants to take on Longoria, the Rays would have to take on a high salary veteran such as Denard Span or Hunter Pence. Span is owed $9 million in 2018, with a $4 million buyout on a $12 million option for 2019. Pence is owed $18.5 million in 2018 in the final year of his contract and has a full no-trade clause.

If he stays with the Rays, Longoria will achieve 10-5 rights — full no-trade protection due to being a ten-year veteran with five years of service on the same club — so if the Rays are going to move him, it’ll be much easier this offseason, not once the 2018 season begins.