The Washington Times - October 3, 2011, 04:11PM

Packing up his locker at Sun Life Stadium last week, Michael Morse was asked if he planned to pop the giftwrapped bottle of Cristal sitting in it at some point this season. The bottle, a gift from Livan Hernandez to Morse for hitting 30 home runs this season, was something of a symbol of the superb season Morse had put together as the Nationals’ slugging cleanup hitter.

Morse said he didn’t have any plans to open the bottle, rather that he would keep it as a memento — and conversation piece  about his best year as a major leaguer (so far) and the man who gave it to him. On Monday, Morse learned he could soon add another memento — this one a piece of hardware — to his collection when he was nominated for the 2011 Hank Aaron Award.

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Morse finished the season with 31 home runs — just the fourth National in their history to break the 30-homer mark — and a .303 batting average. When it came to selecting a Nationals’ nominee for this award, the committee likely didn’t have much pause. Morse won the team’s Triple Crown with the .303 average, 31 home runs and 95 RBI. He also posted a .360 on-base percentage and .550 slugging percentage.

Fans can vote for the award at MLB.com and a panel of Hall of Fame players will contribute to the voting as well. That panel will include Hank Aaron, Roberto Alomar, Joe Morgan, Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams and Robin Yount.

The winner will be announced during the 2011 World Series.

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

American League

National League

Baltimore Orioles

J.J. Hardy

Arizona Diamondbacks

Justin Upton

Boston Red Sox

Adrian Gonzalez

Atlanta Braves

Brian McCann

Chicago White Sox

Paul Konerko

Chicago Cubs

Aramis Ramirez

Cleveland Indians

Asdrubal Cabrera

Cincinnati Reds

Joey Votto

Detroit Tigers

Miguel Cabrera

Colorado Rockies

Troy Tulowitzki

Kansas City Royals

Alex Gordon

Florida Marlins

Mike Stanton

LA Angels of  Anaheim

Mark Trumbo

Houston Astros

Carlos Lee

Minnesota Twins

Michael Cuddyer

Los Angeles Dodgers

Matt Kemp

New York Yankees

Curtis Granderson

Milwaukee Brewers

Ryan Braun

Oakland Athletics

Josh Willingham

New York Mets

Jose Reyes

Seattle Mariners

Dustin Ackley

Philadelphia Phillies

Ryan Howard

Tampa Bay Rays

Evan Longoria

Pittsburgh Pirates

Andrew McCutchen

Texas Rangers

Michael Young

St. Louis Cardinals

Albert Pujols

Toronto Blue Jays

Jose Bautista

San Diego Padres

Cameron Maybin

 

 

San Francisco Giants

Pablo Sandoval

 

 

Washington Nationals

Michael Morse