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Voting underway for Hank Aaron Awards

Annual honor goes to best offensive player in each league
MLB.com @DKramer_

Hank Aaron is still widely revered as one of the game's all-time great hitters, a first-ballot Hall of Famer whose career statistics still rank among history's best. Aaron, who still has a presence in today's game as a senior vice president in the Braves' front office, is best remembered for breaking Babe Ruth's career home run record, and his 755 total ranked first when he retired in 1976. Yet for all his power, Aaron was perhaps just as effective as a contact hitter, as his 3,771 hits (third all time) would attest.

VOTE NOW: Cast your ballot for the Hank Aaron Award

Hank Aaron is still widely revered as one of the game's all-time great hitters, a first-ballot Hall of Famer whose career statistics still rank among history's best. Aaron, who still has a presence in today's game as a senior vice president in the Braves' front office, is best remembered for breaking Babe Ruth's career home run record, and his 755 total ranked first when he retired in 1976. Yet for all his power, Aaron was perhaps just as effective as a contact hitter, as his 3,771 hits (third all time) would attest.

VOTE NOW: Cast your ballot for the Hank Aaron Award

Today, the awards bestowed to each league's best overall hitter bears Aaron's name.

Voting is underway through Oct. 8 at MLB.com and the 30 club sites, where fans can help choose the winners. The annual award was introduced in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Ruth's all-time home run record. At that time, it was the first major award introduced by MLB in more than 25 years.

Here is each club's nominee for 2018, broken down by each division.

AL EAST
Blue Jays: Justin Smoak
Orioles: Adam Jones
Rays: Joey Wendle
Red Sox: J.D. Martinez
Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton

AL CENTRAL
Indians: Jose Ramirez
Royals: Whit Merrifield
Tigers: Nicholas Castellanos
Twins: Eddie Rosario
White Sox: Jose Abreu

AL WEST
Angels: Mike Trout
Astros: Alex Bregman
Athletics: Khris Davis
Mariners: Mitch Haniger
Rangers: Joey Gallo

Video: Manfred presents Bryant, Ortiz with Hank Aaron Award

NL EAST
Braves: Freddie Freeman
Marlins: J.T. Realmuto
Mets: Michael Conforto
Nationals: Anthony Rendon
Phillies: Rhys Hoskins

NL CENTRAL
Brewers: Christian Yelich
Cardinals: Matt Carpenter
Cubs: Javier Baez
Pirates: Gregory Polanco
Reds: Scooter Gennett

NL WEST
D-backs: Paul Goldschmidt
Dodgers: Max Muncy
Giants: Evan Longoria
Padres: Franmil Reyes
Rockies: Trevor Story

Video: WS2015 Gm4: Donaldson, Harper win Hank Aaron Awards

"I am honored to have my name on the award given by Major League Baseball to the top offensive performers in the game," Aaron said in the past.

This marks the ninth straight year that fans' voices and votes will be included in the selection process. A special panel of Hall of Fame players, who have been personally selected by Aaron to lend their expertise -- Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey Jr., Eddie Murray and Robin Yount -- will also vote for the awards along with Aaron himself.

This year's field features an array of new faces -- Goldschmidt, Stanton and Trout are the only former Aaron Award winners amongst this year's finalists -- including some of this year's true breakout stars, such as Story, Muncy and Bregman. Thirteen finalists were named All-Stars this year, and the group also features 22 players under the age of 30, with seven aged 25 or younger. 

History has typically favored the sluggers, and in today's era, where the long ball is as prevalent as it ever has been, fans could opt for nominees in that mold. It's worth noting that the reigning American League winner, Jose Altuve, was one of seven batting champions to win the Aaron Award in the same year.  

Here are the previous Aaron Award winners:

2017: Jose Altuve and Giancarlo Stanton
2016: Kris Bryant and David Ortiz
2015: Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper
2014: Stanton and Trout
2013: Miguel Cabrera and Goldschmidt
2012: Cabrera and Buster Posey
2011: Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp
2010: Bautista and Joey Votto
2009: Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols
2008: Aramis Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis
2007: Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder
2006: Jeter and Ryan Howard
2005: Ortiz and Andruw Jones
2004: Manny Ramirez and Barry Bonds
2003: Rodriguez and Pujols
2002: Rodriguez and Bonds
2001: Rodriguez and Bonds
2000: Carlos Delgado and Todd Helton
1999: Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa

The Aaron Awards, which are officially sanctioned by Major League Baseball, will be presented by Aaron and Commissioner Rob Manfred during the 2018 World Series.  

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.