Josh Donaldson, Bryce Harper win the 2015 Hank Aaron Awards

MLB award recognizes most outstanding offensive performer in each league

NEW YORK - Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays and Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals have been selected as the American League and National League winners of the 2015 Hank Aaron Award, Major League Baseball announced today.

Established in 1999 to honor the 25th Anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record, 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 sixth straight year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Hank Aaron joined fans in voting for the award. The Hall of Fame panel led by Aaron includes some of the greatest offensive players of all-time, such as Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Eddie Murray, Frank Thomas and Robin Yount. These Hall of Famers - who combined for 16,697 hits, 8,712 RBI and 2,166 home runs - were all personally selected by Aaron to lend their expertise to select the best offensive performer in each League.

"I congratulate Bryce Harper and Josh Donaldson on earning the 2015 Hank Aaron Awards, representing the best offensive seasons in the American and National Leagues," Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said. "At age 22, Bryce enjoyed great success, posting numbers that put him in the company of some of our game's all-time greats. Josh played a pivotal role in the Blue Jays' first playoff season in 22 years, contributing to one of the game's best lineups. Both players honored the enduring legacy of Hank Aaron with all-around excellence throughout the 2015 season."

"It is truly a joy and an honor that the award recognizing the top offensive performers in the game has my name on it," said Hank Aaron. "I want to congratulate Josh and Bryce on their outstanding seasons and extend my thanks to the Hall of Famers and fans who selected the winners."

Donaldson set career-highs in nearly every offensive category during his first season as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. The 29-year-old batted .297 with 122 runs scored, 184 hits, 41 doubles, 41 home runs, two triples, 123 RBI, a .371 on-base percentage and a .568 slugging percentage in 158 games. He ranked first among Major Leaguers in runs scored, while pacing the American League in RBI and extra-base hits (84). In addition, he was second in slugging, third in home runs and fifth in hits. Donaldson's production in clutch situations was a key factor for the division-winning Jays, who benefitted from his Major League-best 20 game-winning RBI. Twenty-seven of the Auburn University product's 41 home runs this season either tied the game or gave his club the lead. His three home runs of the walk-off variety were the most in a single season in franchise history. Donaldson's 116 RBI as a third baseman set a new single-season club record for a Blue Jays third baseman, surpassing Tony Batista's 114 RBI in 2000. The two-time AL All-Star's 38 homers while playing third were the second-most in franchise history behind Batista's 41, also during the 2000 campaign. Donaldson, who was originally selected by the Chicago Cubs with the 48th overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft, becomes the first Blue Jay to lead the League in RBI since Carlos Delgado did so in 2003 (145 RBI).

Harper hit a career-best .330 with 118 runs scored, 172 hits, 38 doubles, 42 home runs, 99 RBI, a .460 on-base percentage and a .649 slugging percentage in 153 games this season. The first overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft became the first player in Major League history with at least 42 homers, 124 walks and 118 runs scored at age 22-or-younger. He also became the youngest player ever to club at least 42 homers, while drawing 124 walks in a season. The previous youngest player to reach those thresholds was Babe Ruth, who hit 54 home runs with 150 walks in 1920 at the age of 25. Harper posted Baseball's top on-base and slugging percentages, while tying for the NL lead in home runs and pacing his counterparts in runs scored. He finished second behind Miami's Dee Gordon (.333) for the Senior Circuit's batting crown. The 2012 NL Rookie of the Year became the sixth-youngest player in Major League history to reach the 40-homer plateau, joining Mel Ott (1929), Joe DiMaggio (1937), Eddie Mathews (1953), Johnny Bench (1970), and Juan Gonzalez (1992) as the only players under the age of 23 to do so.

Past winners of the award include: Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout (2014); Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt (2013); Cabrera and Buster Posey (2012); Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp (2011); Bautista and Joey Votto (2010); Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols (2009); Aramis Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis (2008); Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder (2007); Jeter and Ryan Howard (2006); David Ortiz and Andruw Jones (2005); Manny Ramirez and Barry Bonds (2004); Rodriguez and Pujols (2003); Rodriguez and Bonds (2001-02); Carlos Delgado and Todd Helton (2000) and Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa (1999).