PITTSBURGH -- Center fielder Nate McLouth put himself among some distinguished company when he represented the Pirates in July's All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.
He's since been named as a finalist for baseball's Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, an honor that recognizes above-average on-field contributions and community involvement. He will also be under heavy consideration for the first Rawlings Gold Glove Award presented to a Pirates player in 15 years, as he heads into the final week of the season as the only National League center fielder without an error this season.
McLouth can now add another honor to that list, as he has been named as one of the 30 finalists for the MLB Hank Aaron Award presented by Sharp.
This coveted honor is awarded annually to the best overall offensive performer in each league, with each club having a nominee. Fans can vote here through 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 Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder.
Launched in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron's breaking of Babe Ruth's all-time home run record, the Hank Aaron Award was the first major award to be introduced in 30 years.
After entering Spring Training fighting for a starting spot on the team, McLouth kicked off the season with a 19-game hitting streak -- still the league's longest this season -- and he has slowed down just minimally since.
Entering Tuesday, McLouth had a .280 batting average. His 26 homers, 94 RBIs and 46 doubles were easily the team's best in each category.
"Nate's been pretty much the catalyst of our club," manager John Russell said earlier this year, after one of McLouth's game-winning hits. "He's gotten big hit after big hit for us."
McLouth's offensive output goes beyond the often overemphasized home run and RBI totals. With six games remaining in the season, McLouth's 111 runs scored ranks fourth in the National League. That puts him in select Pirates company as well, as only two Pittsburgh players have scored more than 100 runs in a season since 2001.
Taken for granted may be the fact that McLouth will also look to close the season with a string of notable success on the basepaths, as he is just the second Pirates player this decade to join the 20-20 club. He is 20-for-23 in stolen-base attempts this season, which includes a current string of 19 straight successful attempts.
All things considered, there's reason to believe that McLouth's name will be mentioned alongside baseball's offensive leaders for a while. Don't forget that the outfielder is just 26 years old and in his first season as a starter. And needless to say, he's opened some eyes inside and outside Pittsburgh.
"He plays the game hard," teammate Adam LaRoche said earlier in the season. "He's a good teammate. He's a good player. Those are the guys you really root for."