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.