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'Clutch' Molina up for Aaron Award

'Clutch' Molina up for Aaron Award

Bengie Molina's a typical catcher, placing greater importance upon defense instead of offense.

One wonders what his statistics might look like if he reversed his priorities.

Molina has remained among the most robust performers at his position in the Major Leagues, so it's no wonder that he's the Giants' nominee 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 until Oct. 12 to select the winner in each league. The winners will be announced prior to Game 4 of the World Series on Oct. 26. Last year's winners were Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder. Originally introduced in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record, the Hank Aaron Award was the first major award to be introduced in 30 years.

Molina, 34, appears destined to lead the Giants in home runs and RBIs. After driving in a career- and club-high 81 runs last year, he surpassed that this season, totaling 92 through Sept. 22. He'll likely become the 11th player to top the Giants in RBIs in consecutive years since they moved to San Francisco in 1958. The last was Pedro Feliz in 2005-06.

After hitting .338 with runners in scoring position last season, Molina has been almost as proficient this year, batting .312 in those situations through Sept. 22.

"Bengie's so clutch," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's the guy you want up there when you need a big hit."

Like a true run producer, Molina finds any way he can to send a runner home. He leads the National League with 11 sacrifice flies.

It's this mentality that led Bochy to name Molina the cleanup hitter before the season began. And Molina hasn't budged from that spot.

"I think they have the right guy in me because I don't think about it," Molina said. "I don't think about 'I'm the fourth guy' or 'I have to hit home runs' or anything like that. I'm straight-up going to be myself. If I get a pitch hanging and I have a chance to hit it out, if it goes out, it goes. But I'm not trying to hit home runs. I'm just trying to hit a hard line drive somewhere."

Molina has a chance to follow the example of former Giants left fielder Barry Bonds, the Aaron Award recipient in 2001, 2002 and 2004.

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

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