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Votto vying for first 'Hammer' Award

Votto vying for first 'Hammer' Award

CINCINNATI -- Whether it's in the cage working on his swing, in front of a video machine or in the batter's box during a game, Reds rookie Joey Votto has been diligently focused on improving as a hitter.

It's been to the first baseman's benefit, and often to the Reds', too. Votto's offensive numbers have been largely consistent, and he is among the team's leaders in several categories.

"He studies. He's confident. He works. He's quietly attentive," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

This year, Votto is the Reds' nominee for the annual Hank Aaron Award, presented by Sharp.

This coveted honor is awarded annually to the best overall offensive performer in each league, with each club having a nominee. Fans can vote until Sunday, Oct. 12, to select the winner in each league.

The 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 Brewers first baseman Prince 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.

Entering Tuesday, Votto is batting .288 with 22 home runs, 79 RBIs and a .361 on-base percentage. The Toronto native made his Major League debut last September, but emerged out of Spring Training as Cincinnati's everyday first baseman.

Votto heated up during August, in particular, when he batted .382 for the month with a team-leading 18 RBIs.

"It's just one of those stretches, I don't know why," Votto said, while downplaying his hot streak earlier in September.

Although he will likely be overshadowed by Cubs catcher Geovany Soto in voting for National League Rookie of the Year, Votto's numbers have been very similar this season.

"He's a clutch RBI man," Baker said. "He's getting better, that's what I like. He's getting more confidence and more comfortable."

Mark Sheldon 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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