Joey Votto wins baseball's Tip O'Neill Award
1st baseman has won Tip O'Neill Award 4 straight years
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto is the winner of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame's Tip O'Neill Award for the fourth consecutive year.
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame award is given to the Canadian player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball's highest ideals.
The Toronto-born Votto, a starter at the 2013 all-star game, played all 162 regular-season games this past season, posting a .305 batting average, 24 home runs, 73 runs batted in and a National League-leading .435 on-base percentage. He also led the league in plate appearances (726), games played at first base (161) and assists by a first baseman (154).
Votto, 30, finished sixth in NL MVP voting after setting Canadian single-season records for walks (135) and times on base (316).
He is the first player to win the Tip O'Neill Award four consecutive times and only the second to win it more than three times, joining one-time Montreal Expos outfielder Larry Walker of Maple Ridge, B.C., who was a nine-time recipient.
"It is very flattering to be mentioned in any discussion that includes Larry Walker, who represented our country with such dedication and professionalism during his major league career," Votto said in a statement released by the Canadian Baseball Hall.
"I have to thank the Baseball Hall of Fame for its efforts in promoting our great game in Canada."
Votto will receive the award during a pre-game ceremony early next season.
Also considered for the Tip O'Neill honour this year were fellow major leaguers Brett Lawrie (Toronto), relief pitchers Jesse Crain (Tampa Bay), Jim Henderson (Milwaukee) and John Axford (free agent), first baseman Justin Morneau (Colorado) and starting pitcher Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.). Canadian women's team MVP Stephanie Savoie also garnered significant support in the fan voting.
The award is named after James (Tip) O'Neill. The Woodstock, Ont., native set several major league records with the St. Louis Browns in 1887.
"Joey Votto is not only a superstar on the field, but he's also an inspiration and a difference-maker away from the ballpark," Scott Crawford, director of operations at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, said in a statement. "There was a very strong field of candidates this year, but Joey deserves this honour for his tremendous contributions both on and off the field."
Among the criteria for the Tip O'Neill Award is community and charitable endeavours. Recently, Votto launched the Joey Votto Foundation, which will help military veterans and active service members in Cincinnati and Toronto deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Votto's goal is to offer care to about 500 new patients each year.