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Aaron Award is latest hardware for Pujols

Aaron Award is latest hardware for Pujols

ST. LOUIS -- Albert Pujols is closing in on a dominating sweep of postseason hardware.

Pujols, a favorite for National League Most Valuable Player honors and already the winner of the Players' Choice Award as Major League player of the year, was named the National League winner of the 2009 Hank Aaron Award on Sunday prior to Game 4 of the World Series.

It's the second time Pujols has won the award. He also brought home the hardware in 2003, when he was the National League batting champion.

Pujols was unable to receive the award in person at Sunday's live announcement at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia because he is still recovering from right elbow surgery, which he underwent on Oct. 21.

"Albert had another truly remarkable season," Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said during the award's press conference. "We congratulate Albert and wish him the best in his recovery."

It's fitting that Pujols is a winner of an award named for Aaron, since there are decided similarities between the two right-handed hitters.

Like Aaron, Pujols is a line-drive hitter who hits for a high batting average and happens to have home run power. Neither Aaron nor Pujols could be considered a pure slugger. But Aaron consistently racked up homers over a 23-year career, and Pujols has done the same in his nine years.

In fact, according to Baseball-Reference.com's similarity scores, Aaron is rated as the second-most similar player in baseball history to Pujols at age 28.

The 2009 season may have been Pujols' finest offensive campaign, even though he finished the year in a home run drought. He batted .327 and led the National League with a .443 on-base percentage, .658 slugging percentage, 47 home runs, 124 runs scored and 374 total bases. His 135 RBIs ranked third in the league.

Though Pujols has never hit fewer than 32 home runs in a Major League season, it was the first time he had ever led the NL in homers. He's never hit the 50-home run plateau. That makes him similar to Aaron in another way, as the Hall of Famer had 15 seasons with 30 or more long balls, and eight with at least 40, but never hit 50 in a season.

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, and at that time, it was the first new major award introduced by MLB in more than 25 years.

Other past NL winners of the Hank Aaron Award include Sammy Sosa, Todd Helton, Barry Bonds, Andruw Jones, Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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