The Hank Aaron Award is given annually to the Major League Baseball (MLB) players selected as the top hitter in each league, as voted on by baseball fans and members of the media. It was introduced in 1999 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron's surpassing of Babe Ruth's career home run mark of 714 home runs. The award was the first major award to be introduced by Major League Baseball in 19 years.
For the 1999 season, a winner was selected using an objective points system. Hits, home runs, and runs batted in (RBI) were given certain point values and the winner was the player who had the highest tabulated points total.
In 2000, the system was changed to a ballot in which each MLB team's radio and television play-by-play broadcasters and color analysts voted for three players in each league. Their first place vote receives five points, the second place vote receives three points, and the third place vote receives one point. Beginning in 2003, fans were given the opportunity to vote via MLB's official website, MLB.com. Fans' votes account for 30% of the points, while broadcasters' and analysts' votes account for the other 70%.
The 2004-2006 Hank Aaron Award was decided in three separate phases. In August fans voted at each Club's official Web site from among three players nominated by the respective Club. The leading vote getter from each Club became one of 30 finalists, from which a special Major League Baseball panel chose six finalists from each League. Online fan voting then determined the overall League winner.
In 2007-2008 five finalists in each league were determined in fan balloting on MLB.com, from 30 club nominees selected by a special panel assembled by Major League Baseball and MLB.com. Online fan votes decided the overall League winner.
For the 2009 Award fans selected both the finalists and the ultimate winners of the award. In September fans voted for one finalist out of three nominees from each MLB Club. Once those 30 finalists were selected, fans voted for one American League and one National League winner, from September 16-30.
The award is handed out to the winners of both leagues before Game 4 of the World Series every year, with Aaron himself presenting the awards.
The first winners of the award were Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa in 1999, while the most recent winners are Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols. Alex Rodriguez has won the award four times, the most of any player.