NEW YORK — Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson and Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper are the winners of the Hank Aaron Award for their respective leagues, Major League Baseball has just announced. The award is given to the best offensive player in each league. It is voted on by a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Aaron, with a fan voting component added on as well.
Harper led the National League in homers, On-base percentage, slugging, OPS, OPS+ and runs, with a line of .330/.460/.649 with 42 homers. Donaldson led the AL in hits, RBI and total bases and had a line of .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers and 123 RBI. Both Harper and Donaldson are likely to win their respective leagues’ MVP Award.
Donaldson’s choice as the MVP is defensible and likely appropriate given his outstanding defensive contributions, but from a purely offensive perspective it’s a pretty close call between he and Mike Trout. Trout had a higher average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Trout walked more and the same number of homers. Donaldson was a better base runner this year and had more plate appearances. Harper, however, was head and shoulders above everyone in the NL offensively speaking.
Of course, given the electorate involved and the presence of a fan vote, it’s not reasonable to assume a straight statistical analysis to decide the matter.