Yankees captain recognized as AL's top offensive player
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Derek Jeter traveled to Philadelphia expecting to get closer to baseball's ultimate prize in the World Series. As he prepared to continue chasing that goal on Sunday, he was presented with some early hardware.
The Yankees shortstop was named as the American League winner of the 2009 Hank Aaron Award before taking the field to play against the Phillies in Game 4 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park.
"This is an outstanding award," Jeter said. "Any award that is named after Hank Aaron, to me, is very special -- what he has represented, not only in his playing days, but how he handled himself when he was playing off the field.
"To this day, I have the utmost respect for him. This is an award that means a lot to me."
It marked the second time Jeter has won the Aaron Award, also accepting honors in 2006 as the AL's top offensive player, as voted on by baseball fans and journalists.
"This award demonstrates what an all-around ballplayer Derek has been for all these many years, and I just want to congratulate him on this award," Aaron said. "This is the second time that he's won this, and I just want to say that you can also win it a third time, too, if you want to."
Albert Pujols of the Cardinals was named the National League winner of the Aaron Award, which was presented by Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig and Daisuke "Doug" Koshima, the chairman and CEO of Sharp Electronics.
"I congratulate Derek and Albert for their wonderful seasons, which led to winning this prestigious award," Selig said. "And I thank our valued partner Sharp Electronics for joining MLB in recognizing these players and celebrating the greatness of Hank Aaron."
Perched at the top of the Yankees' lineup, Jeter had one of his finest offensive seasons for the AL champions, batting .334 with 107 runs scored, 27 doubles, 18 home runs, 66 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 153 games.
He ranked second in the Major Leagues in hits (212) and fourth in batting average, posting the AL's third-highest on-base percentage (.406) and tying teammate Johnny Damon for fourth in the league in runs scored.
Jeter also ranked third in the Majors with 66 multihit games and hit the most home runs among AL shortstops in 2009. The 10-time All-Star was the AL's top vote-getter for the 2009 All-Star Game, garnering 4,851,889 votes to earn his sixth All-Star start.
Aaron said that he could have seen Jeter as a teammate on some of the all-time teams he starred on.
"I think he would have fit in well," Aaron said. "Derek is a super ballplayer. He's not a one-dimensional ballplayer. He tries to do the little things to help his team win. He does everything there is to try and win a ballgame.
"He's not going to be an Albert Pujols hitter and hit 50 home runs, but he'll hit his share and knows when to go for the home runs and when to go to the opposite field. That's the kind of player that I'm used to playing with. They knew exactly what their ability was and what they could do for the team."
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. It was the first new major award introduced by MLB in more than 25 years.
Throughout two rounds of voting -- first among 90 nominees (three from each club), and then among 30 finalists (one from each club) -- Major League Baseball fans cast more than 1.6 million votes in online balloting at sharpMLB.com.
Other past AL winners of the Hank Aaron Award include Manny Ramirez, Carlos Delgado, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.