Rockies trio in running for Aaron Award

Rockies trio in running for Aaron Award

Todd Helton has been the rock of the Rockies long enough to gain perennial status as one of the National League's best hitters, but he certainly has company in Colorado.

With the likes of All-Star outfielder Brad Hawpe and rising star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Helton has plenty of help carrying the load.

That threesome represents the core of an offense that has helped the Rockies into playoff contention in 2009, and the trio is being recognized for their efforts already.

Helton, Hawpe and Tulowitzki are the Rockies' 2009 candidates for the Hank Aaron Award, putting all three in contention to be voted the best hitter in the National League.

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.

Certainly, Clint Barmes and others have contributed to the Rockies' offense, but Helton, Hawpe and Tulowitzki earned the nod for the Colorado nominations.

Helton continues to provide one of the most dangerous bats in the big leagues, and his presence in the No. 3 hole keeps the Rockies rolling. He ranks among the league leaders with a .318 average and 33 doubles entering Wednesday's game. Along with surpassing the 2,000-hit mark in May, Helton has become only the fifth player in MLB history with a .325 average, 500 doubles and 320 homers, joining Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams and Stan Musial.

Hawpe made his first All-Star appearance this summer after a spectacular first half, reaching 50 RBIs by his 60th game and coming up with one clutch hit after another. Now showing signs of emerging from a summer swoon, Hawpe already has matched his career high in doubles and is vying for his first .300 season.

Tulowitzki has provided the Rockies with a bounceback season from 2008, already surpassing his totals in almost every hitting category. He has been both steady and spectacular, hitting for the cycle and becoming the first shortstop in history to go 5-for-5 with seven RBIs in a game.

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