Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has been named the recipient of the Hank Aaron Award, given to the top hitter in each league.
David Ortiz has been recognized as one of the best hitters in baseball throughout his tenure with the Boston Red Sox and he’ll end his career on top.
Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that Ortiz has been won the Hank Aaron Award for the American League, given to the best offensive performer in each league. Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant received the honor for the National League.
The results for this award are determined through a combination of fan voting and a panel of Hall of Fame hitters, led by Hank Aaron himself.
Ortiz’s final season will go down as one of his best. The 40-year old put up uncanny numbers that were never before achieved by a player his age or by one wrapping up the final season of their career. Take a look at some of the prolific numbers Ortiz piled up in 2016.
Batting Average: .316 (AL Rank – 6th)
On-Base Percentage: .401 (3rd)
Slugging: .620 (1st)
OPS: 1.021 (1st)
Home Runs: 38 (8th)
RBI: 127 (Tied-1st)
Doubles: 48 (1st)
Extra-Base Hits: 87 (1st)
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Those numbers are impressive for any hitter, let alone one walking away from the game. Ortiz can clearly still hit at an elite level, but his body is forcing him to retire. If this was to be the end, Ortiz made sure that he was going to go out strong, which he did by setting single-season records for players over 40 years old in home runs, RBI, doubles and extra-base hits.
This is the second time in Ortiz’s storied career that he’s received the Hank Aaron Award, having also won in 2005 when he crushed 47 homers and drove in a career-high 148 RBI. Others to have won the award wearing a Red Sox uniform include Manny Ramirez (2004) and Kevin Youkilis (2008).
Each of those previous Red Sox recipients, including Ortiz, fell short of winning the MVP award that season, showing that it takes more than being the best hitter to be considered the most valuable. That may be the case again this year if Ortiz’s teammate, Mookie Betts, edges him out for the MVP this year. Betts finished second in the AL with a 9.6 WAR, which measures a player’s value in all aspects of the game. That puts him miles ahead of the rest of the pack and nearly double the 5.1 WAR Ortiz produced. Only Mike Trout (10.6 WAR) rated better in the majors, but his Los Angeles Angels finished far outside the playoff race, hindering his MVP chances.
Ortiz’s role as a DH may cost him in the MVP debate, but it’s irrelevant when we’re talking about the award for the league’s best hitter. Big Papi is a deserving Hank Aaron Award recipient regardless of which position he does or doesn’t play and when the time comes for his name to be added to the Hall of Fame ballot, voters should use that same mentality to send him to Cooperstown.