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Hank Aaron Award: Pre-Season Watch List

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This Thursday, it all begins. The 2019 regular season is finally here. All 30 franchises have a chance to start anew, along with any changes they’ve made over the off-season. Fans and experts are all eyeing those players that they want to see take home some hardware. Just one problem: Opening Day hasn’t even arrived yet. But it’s never too early to pick favorites going into the new season.

Here are some early candidates for some coveted accolades in the 2019 MLB Season, starting with the Hank Aaron Award.

Pre-Season Watch List: Hank Aaron Award

American League
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Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated

The reigning Hank Aaron Award winner, Boston’s JD Martinez, had a career year last season. His 43 home runs, 130 RBI and .330 average were not only enough to win him the hardware, but it also gave him a bid for the AL Batting Triple Crown. Plus, he won his first World Series ring in his first year with the Red Sox. One of many weapons staying in Boston, Martinez and company look to stay at the top in the new campaign.

Meanwhile, LA’s Mike Trout is the one player that the baseball world can’t stop talking about, and with good reason. The seven-time All-Star and six-time Silver Slugger also has a Hank Aaron Award to his name, from 2014. The Angels’ star player will be staying an Angel for quite some time. Now with all of the uncertainties about free agency put away, the time has come for Trout and Los Angeles to compete and win.

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Khris Davis (Bleacher Report)

During his tenure with Oakland, Khris Davis has evolved into a pulverizing power hitter. He has cashed in over 40 home runs and over 100 RBI in each of his three seasons as an Athletic. The only person on this list with a head start to the regular season, Davis already has a home run and four RBI to start his 2019. His batting average has not been anything to right home about. But when he connects, the damage is significant.

The Houston Astros are coming into 2019 loaded with All-Star talent, including Alex Bregman. The 24-year old third baseman had a breakout season, with 31 home runs, 103 RBI and a .286 batting average (all career highs). Bregman made his first All-Star appearance last season as well. If Bregman is willing to continue learning, he could be the next elite bat in an American League full of big-time Sluggers.

National League
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Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yelich in 2018(AP Photo/Aaron Gash).

The reigning NL Hank Aaron winner, Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich, has one of the biggest breakthrough seasons in recent history. In his inaugural season as a Brewer, he has hit career highs in every batting category. His .326 batting average, 36 home runs and 110 RBI gave him both the Hank Aaron Award AND the NL MVP last season. Now, with a new season comes the opportunity for the Brewers to hold their NL Central pennant.

Over in the West, Nolan Arenado of the Rockies is looking to add to his already impressive resume. Along with winning Golden Gloves in every season in the majors, Arenado’s swing is garnering fear as well. Number 28 has belted over 35 home runs and over 110 RBI in each of his last four seasons, winning the Silver Slugger each time. Colorado will get to keep their star third-baseman for eight more years. But the Rockies cannot let this opportunity go to waste.

Trevor Story
Apr 10, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (27)  Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports ORG

Chicago’s Javier Baez and Colorado’s Trevor Story are treading similar paths coming into 2019. Both on playoff contending organizations, they both orchestrated breakthrough outing last season and put up similar numbers during the surge. Javier Baez brought in more RBI, while Story crushed more home runs. With a new season around the corner, both players are looking to continue where they left off in 2018. In the mean time, the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies are both looking to exceed their 2018 success, and also take the pennants of their respective divisions.

 

Featured image courtesy of USA Today
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