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09/22/08 12:00 AM ET

Braun's big bat earns huge nomination

Brewers slugger one of select few in running for Aaron Award

CINCINNATI -- A Brewers slugger won the Hank Aaron Award last season, and Ryan Braun will try to make it two years in a row.

Braun is the Brewers' nominee for the coveted honor, awarded annually to the best overall offensive performer in each league. Each club has a nominee and fans can vote until Sunday, Oct. 12 to select the winner in each league.

Last year's National League honor went to Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, who became the youngest player in Major League history to hit 50 home runs in a season. Braun has made history of his own, joining the Cardinals' Albert Pujols as the only players to hit 30 home runs in each of his first two Major League seasons.

Braun belted 34 homers in 2007 despite playing the first five weeks of the season with Triple-A Nashville, and became the first player since Pat Listach in 1992 to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Before Braun slumped with the rest of the Brewers in September, he was considered a strong candidate for the NL MVP Award.

Aaron Award winners will be announced prior to Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday, Oct. 26. Last year's winners were Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and Fielder. Originally introduced in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record, the Hank Aaron Award was the first major award to be introduced in 30 years.

The Brewers showed their commitment to Braun in May, when the 24-year-old inked an eight-year contract that guarantees $45 million and could pay as much as $51 million, with the deal setting a record for a player with less than one year of Major League service.

With his historic contract in the bank, did Braun worry about increased expectations?

"I embrace it," Braun said. "I've always had high expectations for myself. I think it will help me relax."

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