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Jose Altuve and Giancarlo Stanton win 2017 Hank Aaron Awards

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Astros’ second baseman Jose Altuve and Marlins’ right fielder Giancarlo Stanton were named the 2017 Hank Aaron Award winners on Wednesday, and despite the award’s somewhat ridiculous selection process, you’d be hard-pressed to find two players more deserving of the distinction.

The award recognizes the top hitters in each league and is determined by Hank Aaron, a panel of MLB Hall of Famers and online fan-based voting. This year, it went to two All-Stars and MVP contenders, marking Altuve’s first such award and Stanton’s second.

Rivaled only by Yankees’ rookie sensation Aaron Judge, Altuve performed on another level in 2017. He mashed .346/.410/.547 through 662 PA, leading both leagues in batting average and producing an AL-best 204 hits and 112 runs. He was also honored with his third career batting title earlier this year. “There aren’t many players I’d pay to go see play,” Hank Aaron told the Astros’ second baseman. “I’d pay to see you.”

Stanton, meanwhile, destroyed NL pitching with a league-best 59 home runs in the regular season. He finished the year batting .281/.376/.631 in 692 PA and placed first in the league with a franchise-best 132 RBI. He was initially honored with the Hank Aaron Award back in 2014 after racking up 37 homers and an NL-best 299 total bases and .555 slugging percentage.

“I am very proud of these two young men for their great accomplishments on the field, as well as how they carry themselves off the field,” Aaron said while presenting the awards. “Not only are Jose and Giancarlo two tremendous baseball talents, but they also are wonderful ambassadors of our great sport and truly epitomize everything that is dear to me about baseball.”

Kendrys Morales pitched a scoreless inning Sunday

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Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.

Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.

Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.

On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.