CLEVELAND – (Staff Report from Official MLB News release) – David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox and Kris Bryant of the National League Champion Chicago Cubs have been selected as the American League and National League winners of the 2016 Hank Aaron Awards. Established in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record, the Hank Aaron Awards are officially sanctioned by MLB and recognize the most outstanding offensive performers in each League.
Fans voted for the recipients on MLB.com and Twitter, and for the seventh straight year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Hank Aaron joined fans in voting for the Awards. The Hall of Fame panel includes some of the greatest offensive players of all-time, such as Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey Jr., Eddie Murray and Robin Yount. These Hall of Famers – who combined for 17,010 hits, 8,844 RBI and 2,275 home runs – were all personally selected by Aaron to lend their expertise to select the best offensive performer in each League.
“I congratulate David Ortiz and Kris Bryant on earning the 2016 Hank Aaron Awards,” Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said. “David created an extraordinary legacy with the Red Sox. Fans will never forget his consistent excellence at the plate and his performances on the game’s greatest stages. Kris followed up an award-winning rookie season by helping lead the Cubs to their best regular season in more than a century. Both David and Kris are deserving of an honor named for one of the greatest players and individuals that our game has ever known.”
“It is an honor that the awards which distinguish the top offensive performers in baseball have my name on it,” Aaron said. “I want to congratulate Kris and David on their terrific seasons and extend my thanks to the Hall of Famers and fans who once again helped select the winners.”
This marks the second time that Ortiz has been the American League winner of the Hank Aaron Award (previous: 2005). In the final season of his 20-year Major League career, Ortiz led all players with a .620 slugging percentage, a 1.021 OPS and 48 doubles. The Dominican Republic native batted .315 with 38 home runs, 127 RBI (T-1st, AL), 80 walks and a .401 on-base percentage. His 38 homers – which included 16 of the go-ahead variety – and 127 RBI were his best totals since 2006. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ortiz established single-season records for players over the age of 40 in home runs, RBI, doubles and extra-base hits.