Toronto Blue Jay slugger Jose Bautista and Los Angeles Dodger Matt Kemp were each honored with a Hank Aaron award before the fifth game of the World Series on Oct 24. Bautista now joins Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez as the only repeat winners.

The awards are handed out to the league’s most outstanding offensive players. They were first launched back in 1999 in honor of the 25th anniversary of Henry Aaron breaking the MLB home run record which was held by Babe Ruth. Ironically, the winners of the awards were also the home run leaders in their respective leagues.

Bautista’s 43 homers led the American League and the Majors while Kemp’s 39 round-trippers were tops in the National League. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said there were a lot of players who enjoyed excellent offensive seasons, but Bautista and Kemp stood out. Bautista led all of baseball in walks with 132 and slugging at .608 as well as home runs while Kemp added 40 stolen bases to his 39 homers.

The only disappointing feature of the ceremony was the absence of Aaron, who was unable to attend due to recent knee replacement surgery. Aaron sent a message though and said he’s honored to have an award named after him and congratulated Bautista and Kemp on their outstanding seasons. He also thanked the fans since they’re the ones who voted on the award winners.

They weren’t the only ones who had a say in the outcome though as a panel of Hall of Famers also voted. These included Aaron, Joe Morgan, Roberto Alomar, Paul Molitor, Tony Gwynn, Willie McCovey, Robin Yount, and Billy Williams.

Bautista also won award for the AL last season when he hammered 54 home runs to lead MLB. Even though he dropped to 43 this season he still ended up with two more than runner up Curtis Granderson of the New York Yankees. Bautista added 103 RBI and his .302 batting average was the best of his career. His on-base percentage of .447 was second best in the Majors and his 312 total bases and 105 runs scored were sixth-best in the AL.

Bautista, of the Dominican Republic, becomes the fifth Major Leaguer to hit at least 40 home runs, walk 130 times and steal nine bases in a season. The last AL player to achieve the feat was Babe Ruth when he accomplished it back in 1930. Bautista was also the only player in baseball to have 40 home runs, 100 RBIs, 100 runs, and 100 walks while hitting for a slugging percentage of .600. He’s managed that feat two years in a row now.

As for Kemp, he had a good run at winning the triple crown, but just fell short of the feat. His 39 homers were tops in the NL as were his 126 RBI. However, he finished third in batting with a .324 average. He led the NL with 115 runs scored and 353 total bases. He was tied for first in multi-hit games at 57 and his 195 hits were second in the league. His .586 slugging percentage, 76 extra-base hits, and 40 stolen bases were also second best in the NL while his .399 on-base percentage was fourth and 74 walks were tied for tied for eighth best.

Kemp becomes the seventh Major Leaguer to rank top three in batting average, home runs, stolen bases and RBI in his league. He’s also the first member of the Dodgers to top the NL in homers and RBI since 1941 when Dolph Camilli achieved it. In addition, he’s the first-ever Dodger to lead his league in home runs, RBI, and total runs scored.

Both Bautista and Kemp should also be in the running when this season’s MVP: award winners are announced.


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