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09/22/08 12:00 AM ET

Though young, Reyes is offensive star

25-year-old leadoff hitter drives Mets with bat, legs

NEW YORK -- It's sometimes difficult to rationalize in this game, difficult to reason. The Mets expect so much from Jose Reyes, and rightfully so. He's among the most talented offensive players they've plucked from their Minor League system.

He's also only 25 years old, which counts as both a blessing and a curse. Reyes perhaps has yet to reach the peak of his potential -- certainly a good thing. But he's also still prone to mental lapses, to errors in judgment, and to the ever-present threat of a slump. Not such a good thing.

Yet take a quick glance at Reyes -- or even a long one, for that matter -- and suddenly age doesn't factor so heavily into the assessment. That's because he's already a complete player, a cog in this offense, and for those reasons has just accepted the Mets' nomination for the Major League Baseball 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 from Monday until 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. 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.

The Mets have never had an Aaron Award winner.

Despite an April slump that saw him hit just .240 with two home runs in 100 at-bats, Reyes has rebounded well enough to mold this season into a rousing success. Excluding this still-in-progress September, he has hit over .300 in every other month. And his other statistics are more impressive.

Entering Monday, Reyes had already surpassed nearly all his power numbers from last season, belting 16 homers, 36 doubles and 18 triples. His stolen bases are down, but his success percentage is almost identical to where it was a year ago. And so Reyes is in the midst of perhaps the finest offensive season of his career, even while practicing restraint on the basepaths.

"It's more than meets the eye," third baseman David Wright said earlier this year. "It's not just the stolen bases. His electricity rubs off on the rest of us and allows us to play on a different level."

The 18 triples, a career high, helped him to pass Mookie Wilson earlier this year on the Mets' all-time list. Two months after breaking that mark, Reyes also passed Wilson in steals, since extending his new team record to 285.

"I'm still young in this game, and I've got a couple records already," Reyes said after reaching that mark. "So I have to feel good about it."

An Aaron Award, perhaps, would make him feel even better.

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