Offseason work pays off for Jackson

Offseason work pays off for Jackson

PHOENIX -- There was something different about Conor Jackson this spring, and it didn't take D-backs manager Bob Melvin to notice.

"He has a different look in his eyes," Melvin said during Spring Training. "I know he's worked a lot harder in the offseason and realizes that, at the big league level, the competition is better, and he's going to work that much harder. And he did. He worked very hard this offseason."

Indeed, Jackson spent the offseason working at Athlete's Performance working out and revamping his diet. His efforts have paid off with an outstanding 2008 season and made him the D-backs' nominee for the Hank Aaron Award.

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 Hank 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.

Jackson got off to a hot start, hitting .348 in April, but his consistency has been his biggest attribute this season, hitting below .300 only in May.

A first baseman for the first half of the season, Jackson moved to left field in July when Eric Byrnes went on the disabled list. It was also a time when the D-backs needed a spark offensively, and Jackson provided it, hitting .343 with a .962 OPS, leading the team to its first winning month since April.

In an era of high strikeout totals, Jackson entered the final weeks of the season with more walks than punchouts.

"It's a guy that's not only going to get some hits for you, but he gets on base via the walk," Melvin said.

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