J.J. Hardy named Orioles nominee for 2011 Hank Aaron Award

Fan voting begins today at MLB.com; Award recognizes Most Outstanding Offensive performers in each League

Roberto Alomar and Joe Morgan Added to Hall of Fame Panel, with Returning Members

Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams and Robin Yount

Major League Baseball and MLB Advanced Media announced that J.J. Hardy was named the Orioles' nominee for the 2011 Hank Aaron Award.

Fan voting begins today exclusively online at MLB.com and the 30 Club sites. For the second straight year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Hank Aaron will join fans in voting for the award, which is officially sanctioned by Major League Baseball and has recognized the most outstanding offensive performer in each League since it was established in 1999.

Hardy hit a career-high 30 home runs in his first season with the Orioles, tied for most by a shortstop in the majors and the most by an American League East shortstop since 2004. He hit three more home runs in 2011 than Orioles' shortstops his the previous four years combined. Hardy was named American League Player of the Week for Aug. 8-14 and recorded an RBI in eight straight games from Aug. 2-12, the fourth-longest streak in club history.

This year, the Hall of Fame panel will include two new members - personally selected by Hank Aaron - Roberto Alomar and Joe Morgan. They join panelists from last year, which included Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams and Robin Yount, forming a group comprised of some of the greatest offensive players of all-time. These Hall of Famers - who combined for 23,536 hits, 11,445 RBI and exactly 2,800 home runs - have all agreed to join Hank Aaron in lending their expertise to select the best offensive performers in each League.

Beginning today and continuing through Sunday, Oct. 9, fans will have the opportunity to select one American League and one National League winner from a list comprising one finalist per Club. The winners of the 2011 Hank Aaron Award will be announced during the 2011 World Series.

The complete list of finalists for the 2011 Hank Aaron Award are:

American League:

Baltimore Orioles: J.J. Hardy

Boston Red Sox: Adrian Gonzalez

Chicago White Sox: Paul Konerko

Cleveland Indians: Asdrubal Cabrera

Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera

Kansas City Royals: Alex Gordon

LA Angels of Anaheim: Mark Trumbo

Minnesota Twins: Michael Cuddyer

New York Yankees: Curtis Granderson

Oakland Athletics: Josh Willingham

Seattle Mariners: Dustin Ackley

Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria

Texas Rangers: Michael Young

Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Bautista

National League:

Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Upton

Atlanta Braves: Brian McCann

Chicago Cubs: Aramis Ramirez

Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto

Colorado Rockies: Troy Tulowitzki

Florida Marlins: Mike Stanton

Houston Astros: Carlos Lee

Los Angeles Dodgers: Matt Kemp

Milwaukee Brewers: Ryan Braun

New York Mets: Jose Reyes

Philadelphia Phillies: Ryan Howard

Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen

St. Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols

San Diego Padres: Cameron Maybin

San Francisco Giants: Pablo Sandoval

Washington Nationals: Michael Morse

Past winners of the Hank Aaron Award include: Jose Bautista and Joey Votto (2010); Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols (2009); Aramis Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis (2008); Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder (2007); Jeter and Ryan Howard (2006); David Ortiz and Andruw Jones (2005); Manny Ramirez and Barry Bonds (2004); Rodriguez and Pujols (2003); Rodriguez and Bonds (2001-02); Carlos Delgado and Todd Helton (2000) and Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa (1999).

The Hank Aaron Award was introduced in 1999 to honor the 25 th Anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record, and, at that time, was the first major award introduced by Major League Baseball in more than 25 years.