Jason Heyward, who caught the ceremonial first pitch from Hank Aaron on Opening Day in 2010, is now a finalist for the annual award named for the Braves legend.
The right fielder is Atlanta’s finalist for the 2012 Hank Aaron Award, which recognizes the most outstanding offensive player in each league.
In his third major league season, Heyward hit .269 and led the Braves with 63 extra-base hits and 27 home runs while setting career-highs in RBIs (82) and stolen bases (21). He had a .335 on-base percentage and .479 slugging percentage, including .345 and .530 marks in road games.
“I think Jason probably matured as a player more than anyone I’ve seen in a long time,” said Braves general manager Frank Wren, adding that the team considered Heyward “probably the best right fielder out there.”
The Aaron award winner in each league will be chosen by a combination of fan voting and a panel of Hall of Famers including Aaron, Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan and Robin Yount. Fan voting began Wednesday and continues through Oct. 16 at MLB.com and MLB.com’s individual team sites.
The winners will be announced during the World Series.