Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and an 88-mile-an-hour fastball to the face from Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers will probably prevent Giancarlo Stanton from earning the National League’s highest honor this season.
But nobody — not even the great Kershaw — could stop Stanton from being named the league’s best offensive player this season.
The 24-year-old two-time All-Star right fielder became the first Marlins player to receive the Hank Aaron Award on Saturday night, a prize handed out to the best hitter in each league annually since 1999 and selected by a special panel of Hall of Fame players and fan votes.
The Angels’ Mike Trout won it for the American League. He led the AL in runs scored (115) and RBI (111) while batting .287 with 36 home runs.
Stanton was in San Francisco for Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday night to receive his award alongside Aaron and commissioner Bud Selig.
Stanton missed the final 17 games of the regular season after that Fiers pitch broke cheekbones, chipped teeth and required stitches to patch up a gash. He still led the league in home runs (37), finished second with 105 RBI (he was leading the league when he was injured) and hit .288 while stealing 13 bases.
The Marlins have had four Rookies of the Year (Dontrelle Willis, Hanley Ramirez, Chris Coghlan and Jose Fernandez), two Managers of the Year (Jack McKeon, Joe Girardi), five Gold Glove winners (Charles Johnson, Luis Castillo, Derrek Lee, Mike Lowell, Mark Buehrle) and five Silver Sluggers (Gary Sheffield, Lowell, Miguel Cabrera, Dan Uggla and Ramirez), but they have never had an MVP or Cy Young Award winner.
Stanton’s honor might qualify as the most prestigious by a Marlin yet.
“These first-time Hank Aaron Award winners are two of our game’s most exciting and talented young players,” Selig said in a statement released by Major League Baseball. “For as much as they have already accomplished, Mike and Giancarlo have wonderful futures ahead of them, and they will make Major League Baseball proud in the years ahead.”
Asked how the recovery process is going, Stanton said: “It was a long process of just kind of laying around the house, not being able to leave too much. But I feel great now, and I’ll be back to my normal offseason routine and shouldn’t skip a beat.”