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A-Rod out to defend Aaron Award

A-Rod out to defend Aaron Award

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez has no choice but to be humbled. The Yankees slugger seems to pass those whose greatness can be best described with memorable statistics and sepia-toned photographs.

Rodriguez may soon be able to showcase one of those great names on his trophy shelf. A-Rod has again been selected as the Yankees' candidate for the MLB Hank Aaron Award, presented by Sharp.

"He's a big offensive player, year in and year out," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He keeps himself in unbelievable shape, and he's able to drive the ball out of the ballpark the other way. Not a lot of guys can do that. What he's done over his career is amazing, and he's still got a long way to go."

The coveted honor is awarded annually to the best overall offensive performer in each league, with each club having a nominee. Fans can vote on MLB.com from Monday, Sept. 22, 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 Rodriguez -- in a campaign that saw him belt 54 home runs and drive in 156 runs to secure his third American League Most Valuable Player Award -- 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.

Despite missing a portion of the schedule due to injury, Rodriguez entered Friday with 35 home runs this season, giving him 11 straight seasons of 35 or more homers and 12 in his career (1996, 1998-2008), tying Ruth (1920-24, '26-32) for the most such seasons all time to pass Aaron and Mike Schmidt.

Rodriguez called the accomplishment "very humbling," saying, "I've set some really high standards for myself, and 11 years in a row -- that says a lot more than the numbers. It says that you stayed healthy and you've been very fortunate, and also that you've played with some tremendous teammates."

Rodriguez is the only player in Major League history to record at least 35 home runs, 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored in 12 seasons, consecutive or otherwise. Rodriguez also has hit 208 of his 553 career home runs as a member of the Yankees.

Rodriguez will begin next season in 12th place on baseball's all-time home run list, closing in on Hall of Famer and friend Reggie Jackson's 563 career homers. A-Rod passed Hall of Famers Ted Williams (521), Willie McCovey (521), Jimmie Foxx (534), Mickey Mantle (536) and Schmidt (548) this season.

"You come in every season to attempt to win a World Series," Rodriguez said. "We have a lot of work to do here, but we have some good signs. We have some good young players stepping up. We need to finish strong."

Bryan Hoch 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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