Heart of lineup up for Aaron Award

Heart of lineup up for Aaron Award

HOUSTON -- The trio of players the make up the Astros' middle of the order have been recognized for their offensive achievements this season.

Houston's top three RBI men, Lance Berkman, Miguel Tejada and Carlos Lee, have been nominated for the Hank Aaron Award for their efforts at the plate.

"They are the ones that get us going and are the RBI guys," said outfielder Michael Bourn, who has been the beneficiary of the trio's offensive output, scoring a team-high 76 runs hitting in front of the three sluggers.

The Hank Aaron Award, presented by Sharp, is awarded annually to the best overall offensive performer in each league, with each club having three nominees. This is the seventh consecutive year that fans have had a voice in selecting the award winners.

Fans can vote through Sept. 15 to determine the club nominee, and then voting will be held Sept. 16-30 to select the winner in each league. The winners will be announced during the World Series.

Last year's winners were Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis and Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez. 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.

Lee became the first Panamanian-born player to hit 300 home runs on Aug. 9, joining Berkman and Ivan Rodriguez to make the Astros the first team in Major League history to have three players hit their 300th career homers in the same season.

Tejada made his sixth All-Star appearance this season. His 47 multihit games is tops in the National League and his 68 RBIs are two more than he had all of last season.

Despite getting off to a slow start and being sidelined for 18 games with a calf injury, Berkman still has some of the best offensive numbers in the NL. He recently passed Astros great Jose Cruz for third place on Houston's all-time total-bases list.

"They all hit the ball for power, average and are able to drive in runs, which is hard to do separate. But when you can do all three together, it is special," Bourn said. "When they come up behind you and you're on, you have a pretty good chance of getting home with those three. They have a good feel for baseball."

Jason Grodsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.