ST. LOUIS – After a breakout season for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas State’s own Paul Goldschmidt capped his great season by earning the Hank Aaron Award, Major League Baseball announced Sunday.
Goldschmidt along with the American League winner Miguel Cabrera, were honored by Commissioner Bud Selig and Hank Aaron, the award’s namesake, in a news conference before Game 4 of this season’s World Series at Busch Stadium.
“I’m not surprised at all, and I’m sure Paul is humble and flattered by it,” said Head Coach Ty Harrington. “Any success he has, nobody at Texas State is surprised by it. We’re incredibly proud to have a former athlete who represents so many great things.”
Established in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record with No. 715, the Hank Aaron Award is officially sanctioned by MLB and recognizes the most outstanding offensive performer in each league.
Fans voted for the award on MLB.com, and for the fourth consecutive year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Aaron joined fans in voting.
The first baseman, who was selected to his first All-Star Game this season, hit .302 with 36 doubles, 36 homer, 125 RBIs, 99 walks and 103 runs in his second full season with Arizona. The 26-year-old led the NL in slugging percentage (.551), OPS (.952), extra-base hits (75), RBIs and total bases (332, and he tied for first in homers. Goldschmidt also ranked third in walks, tied for third in runs scored, was fourth with a .401 on-base percentage and tied for 10th in doubles.
Along the way, Goldschmidt provided plenty of epic performances, including one game in which he tied the game with a home run against the Orioles in the ninth inning and knocked a solo walk-off homer in the 11th to win the game back on August 13.
In addition to his strong basic stats, Goldschmidt came up big in many more clutch moments. He tied for first in go-ahead RBIs (37), go-ahead homers (20), walk-off homers (three) and homers after the eighth inning (seven), while tying for most game-winning RBIs (19) and RBIs with runners in scoring position (84).
“It’s just a very big honor just to be mentioned alongside Hank Aaron and other great players in the game,” the usually humble Goldschmidt said. “And I’ve just got to say thank you to friends and family, and the Diamondbacks organization for giving me the opportunity to play baseball, and of course the coaching staff and front office here. But probably most of all, the teammates here I’ve had with the Diamondbacks this year. [I] just really enjoyed this year, getting to play with them, and learned a lot from the guys I played with, the guys I played with in the past.”
Goldschmidt, dubbed “America’s First Baseman” by his teammates, joined Hall of Famers Mel Ott and Eddie Mathews as the only three NL players to post a .300 average, 35 homers, 100 RBIs, 100 runs and 99 walks during their age-25 season or earlier. In addition, Goldschmidt is the 19th players since 1977 to lead the NL or tie for the league lead in homers and RBIs in a single season.
“He proves it day in and day out,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said of Goldschmidt. “He’s everything you could want.”
Goldschmidt, Arizona’s eighth-round Draft pick from 2009, became the ninth player in the past 37 years to lead the NL or tie for the lead in homers and RBIs while hitting at least .300, joining Matt Kemp, Alber Pujols, Ryan Howard, Andres Galarraga, Dante Bichette, Barry Bonds, Mike Schmidt and George Foster. He also finished the season on a 19-game hitting streak, so he will try to make it 20 in a row when MLB opens next season with a series between Goldschmidt’s Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers in Australia.