Pujols, Jeter winners of Aaron Award
Cardinals slugger, Yankees captain honored for offense
PHILADELPHIA -- Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees and Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals are the winners of the 2009 Sharp presents Hank Aaron Award, it was announced on Sunday night before Jeter's Yanks played the Phillies in Game 4 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park. The Yanks hold a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven Series.
It is the second time for both players, Jeter winning in 2006 and Pujols in '03. Jeter also was named this year's Roberto Clemente Award winner for his humanitarian contributions to Major League Baseball. Jeter was in attendance at the ceremony, while Pujols was not because of his recovery from recent elbow surgery."I just want to say, first of all, thank you for everyone who voted," Jeter said at a media conference. "This is an outstanding award. Any award that's named after Hank Aaron to me is very special. I have the utmost respect for him because of what he represented, not only in his playing days, but how he has handled himself off the field to this day. This is an award that means a lot to me." The Aaron Award winners are picked from both the American and National Leagues by a vote of the fans via MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball. This year, 1.6 million people participated in the two rounds of voting. "I congratulate Derek and Albert for their wonderful seasons which led to winning this prestigious award," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "This award, which recognizes the most outstanding offensive performance in each league, was created to honor Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's All-Time home run record. This is the 11th year that Major League Baseball has paid tribute to Hank." Last year's winners were Aramis Ramirez of the Chicago Cubs and Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox. This is the seventh consecutive year that fans have had a voice in selecting the award winners in this fashion. The Hank Aaron Award officially recognizes the most outstanding offensive performer in each league. The Hank Aaron Award was created and introduced in 1999 to honor the 25th Anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record of 714, and at that time, was the first new major award introduced by MLB in more than 25 years. Past winners of the Aaron Award include: Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa (1999); Carlos Delgado and Todd Helton (2000); Rodriguez and Barry Bonds (2001, 2002); Rodriguez and Pujols (2003); Manny Ramirez and Bonds (2004); David Ortiz and Andruw Jones (2005); Jeter and Ryan Howard (2006), Rodriguez and Prince Fielder (2007), and Aramis Ramirez and Youkilis last year. "It is truly an honor that my name is in the award that for the past 10 years has recognized the most outstanding offensive performer in each League," Aaron said. "I want to thank Derek Jeter for being here this evening. This award demonstrates what an all around ballplayer Derek has been for all these many years. I just want to congratulate him on this award. This is the second time that he's won it and I just want to say that he can also win it a third time, too, if he wants to. But congratulations to you and your teammates, and may God bless you."
Aaron's record of 755 homers stood until 2007, when it was eclipsed by Bonds, who finished his career that season with 762 home runs.Aaron began his illustrious career with the Braves in Milwaukee and ended it 23 years later in 1976 with the Brewers when Selig was the team's owner. He surpassed Ruth's record on April 8, 1974, as a member of the Atlanta Braves, hitting the record-breaking shot into the left-field bullpen at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Aaron is the only player in Major League history to amass more than 700 homers, 2,000 RBIs (2,297), 2,000 runs (2,174) and 3,000 hits (3,771). He led the National League in homers four times and was an All-Star 23 times. Fans select the two award-winners through two rounds of voting. The first round includes 90 nominees, three from each club. The list then is culled to 30 finalists, one from each club, and the two winners are selected in the second round. Jeter hit .334 with 107 runs scored, 27 doubles, one triple, 18 home runs, 66 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 153 games this season. The 35-year-old surpassed Yankees great Lou Gehrig (2,721) for most hits in franchise history on Sept. 11 and also broke Luis Aparicio's record (2,673) for most hits by a shortstop on Aug. 16. He's currently sitting at 2,747. This season marked his 11th with at least a .300 average, surpassing Bill Dickey and Joe DiMaggio (10) for the third-most .300 seasons in club history behind Gehrig (12) and Babe Ruth (13). Jeter also reached the 200-hit plateau for the seventh time in his career (one shy of Gehrig's club record), extending his Major League record for most 200-hit seasons by a shortstop. The 1996 AL Rookie of the Year finished second in the Majors in hits, third in multihit games (66), fourth in batting average, and ranked third in the AL in on-base percentage (.406) and tied for fourth in runs scored. The 10-time AL All-Star was the league's top overall vote-getter for the 2009 All-Star Game at St. Louis, with 4,851,889 votes. Pujols led the Majors in homers (47), on-base percentage (.443) and slugging percentage (.658). The 29-year-old first baseman hit .327 and his homer total was a career high. He batted .588 (10-for-17) with the bases loaded, and set club records with five grand slams this past season and 11 in his nine-year career. He became just the second player in Major League history to have 100 RBIs in each of his first nine seasons, joining Hall of Famer Al Simmons, who did it in his first 11. The eight-time NL All-Star accumulated the most votes for the 80th All-Star Game in his home city. His 5,397,374 votes were the second-highest in history behind Ken Griffey Jr., who had 6 million in 1994. The two-time NL MVP completed the season as the NL's Triple Crown winner for the decade, leading in batting average (.334), home runs (366) and RBI (1,112) after winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2001.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.