Andruw makes case for Aaron Award

Aaron Award voting ends tonight

ATLANTA -- Andruw Jones has spent the past few months legitimizing his candidacy to win this year's National League Most Valuable Player Award. Fans will have the opportunity over the next few weeks to express whether they believe he's worthy to be crowned with the Hank Aaron Award presented by CENTURY 21.

A panel assembled by Major League Baseball and Century 21, the sponsor of the award, reduced the list from the top vote-getter from each club as chosen by the fans to the six finalists from each league. The annual honor, awarded in October, recognizes the best offensive performer in the American and National Leagues.

Fans will get another crack at the voting. From Sept. 6-30, fans will vote for the player who they feel gave the best all-around offensive performance of the 2005 season. Voting in that final phase will take place at MLB.com and Century21.com.

"It's just been a good season," Jones said. "You're just going out there, working hard and trying to keep your team in the (pennant race). Then every time you look up, you're putting good numbers up."

Jones' most impressive numbers lie in the power department. Entering Monday, he led the Majors with 44 homers and the National League with 111 RBIs. Two of his home runs have ended games and 19 of his RBIs have been game-winners.

"He's just had a dynamite year," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "It's not just his numbers. He's winning ball games."

When Jones spent countless hours in the batting cage last offseason, he was seeking to find some of the consistency that he has lacked throughout most of his career. While his batting average and on-base percentage are still not overly impressive, he's certainly more dependable than in past seasons.

Beginning with his two-hit performance against the A's on June 10 and extending through the end of August, Jones batted .297 with 31 homers and 77 RBIs.

When he was hitting .182 entering April 27, there was some thought Jones might once again not live up to his enormous offensive abilities. But using his new wide stance, he's produced at a level that allows him to justifiably be placed in the same category as the game's elite offensive players.

"My goal this year wasn't to hit 40 home runs," Jones said. "It was to improve what I did last year. Being consistent, now I've got [45] home runs."

Jones' power production has put him on pace to break the Braves franchise records for homers and RBIs. Aaron, for whom this Award is named, and fellow Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews share the current home run record (47). Gary Sheffield set the RBI mark with a career-best 132 in 2003.

Other National League finalists for this year's Hank Aaron Award are Florida's Miguel Cabrera, Chicago's Derrek Lee, St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Houston's Morgan Ensberg. American League finalists include New York's Alex Rodriguez, Baltimore's Miguel Tejada, Boston's David Ortiz, Chicago's Paul Konerko and Texas' Mark Teixeira.

One online voter will win a trip for four to this year's World Series and have a chance to meet Aaron.

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