Today the MLB Players Alumni Assocation announced its annual “Heart and Hustle Award” given to one player from each team “who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit, and tradition of the game.”
You can click here to see all of the recipients and read their press release.
One thing that stood out to me in looking at the list is that of the 30 winners 28 are American born and 22 are white guys.
I’m not trying to portray this as as huge deal so much as something to sigh about because it’s sadly predictable. Baseball is often held up as a diverse, global game and on the field it certainly is, but it’s also a game that holds onto a lot of stereotypes and cliches both positive and negative.
According to the most recent “MLB Racial and Gender Report Card” the overall number of “American” players is 73 percent and the overall number “white” players is 58 percent. Which is why it seems noteworthy that an award based on “heart and hustle” is given to 93 percent “American” players and 73 percent “white” players.
There’s no two ways about it: Aristides Aquino is having a rookie year for the ages. The hot-hitting Reds outfielder tacked another item onto his already lengthy list of accomplishments on Friday, clubbing a two-run, 396-foot home run off of Adam Wainwright in the sixth inning of the Reds’ 13-4 loss to the Cardinals.
The blast came far too late in the game to upset the Cardinals’ nine-run lead, but was otherwise perfectly timed for the rookie. It marked his 10th career home run in just 16 major-league games, officially making him the fastest MLB player to 10 homers in league history. (On a less-thrilling note, it was also the first home run allowed by the Cardinals in 32 2/3 consecutive innings.)
So far in 2019, Aquino is batting a robust .353/.400/.961 with 11 extra-base hits, 19 RBI, a 1.361 OPS, and 0.8 fWAR through 55 plate appearances. Friday’s feat follows other impressive performances from the 25-year-old, who collected three homers against the Cubs last Saturday and tied Trevor Story‘s previously unbeaten record for most homers through his first 10 career games. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon adds that Aquino’s torrid home run pace also eclipsed the standing record held by the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins, who delivered nine home runs through his first 16 career games in 2017 (per Elias).