Votto wins baseball's Tip O'Neill Award
Reds 1st baseman, NL MVP recognized as Canada's top player for 2010
As expected, Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto has been named the top Canadian baseball player for 2010.
The Toronto-born Votto, who was named the National League's most valuable player this past season, was declared a landslide winner of the Tip O'Neill Award handed out by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
"There are several very good Canadians and I'm very proud to be mentioned in any conversation that includes [Larry] Walker and all of the current players, especially Justin [Morneau]," Votto said in a release.
The Tip O'Neill Award is presented annually to the Canadian player the hall judges "to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to the highest ideals of the game of baseball."
Votto received more than 80 per cent of the vote in an internet and Facebook poll taken by the Canadian hall. He's tentatively set to receive the honour April 30 in Cincinnati.
O'Neill was one of Major League Baseball's first legitimate stars. In 1887, the Woodstock, Ont., native set major-league records in hits (225), doubles (52), slugging percentage (.691) and total bases (357) while batting .492.
Votto also turned in a memorable season 123 years later, earning 31 of 32 first-place votes and 443 points in NL MVP balloting from the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Nov. 22 to best St. Louis player Albert Pujols, who had prevailed the two previous years.
The 27-year-old established career highs in batting average (.324, second in NL), homers (37, third), runs batted in (113, third) and on-base percentage (.424).
He ranked in the top three in 11 offensive categories — leading in six, including on-base percentage and slugging percentage (.600) — finished top five in 15 categories and top eight in 18.
Votto also reached first base in a career-best 41 consecutive games from May 15 to July 3 — the longest streak for a Reds batter since Pete Rose reached the mark in 48 straight contests in 1978.
Shockingly, Votto was left off the original 2010 NL all-star roster, but he secured the final spot after 13.7 million ballots were cast for him online through MLB.com's All-Star Final Vote.
Chicago Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster of Gibsons, B.C., was second in the Hall's voting. The 2000 Tip O'Neill recipient ranked among the NL top 10 in starts (34, second), strikeouts (208, seventh) and wins (15, ninth), and sported a respectable 3.85 earned-run average.
John Axford of Simcoe, Ont., finished third after finishing his rookie season with the Milwaukee Brewers with eight victories, 24 saves and a 2.38 ERA. The 27-year-old took over the stopper's role from veteran Trevor Hoffman early in the season and went on to strike out 76 batters in 58 innings pitched.
Morneau, 29, finished fourth in voting despite missing the second half of the 2010 campaign for the Minnesota Twins with post-concussion syndrome. Before the injury, the New Westminster, B.C., native hit .345 with 18 homers, 25 doubles, 56 RBIs and a .437 on-base percentage in 81 games.
Morneau was the 2006 and 2008 Tip O'Neill winner.
Trio ties for 5th
His former Twins teammate, free-agent relief pitcher Jesse Crain, and national team members Jamie Romak and Kate Psota, tied for fifth.
Romak captured MVP honours at the World Cup/Pan American Games qualifying tournament in San Juan, where he batted .448 with five home runs and boasted a 1.103 slugging percentage. Between single-A and AA, Romak recorded 128 hits, 13 home runs and 64 RBIs, and averaged .296 in 127 games.
Psota has been a fixture with the women's national team since its inception in 2004. In the summer, she led all players at first base with a .500 batting average — good for fourth overall — at the World Cup in Venezuela. Canada's MVP also shone on the mound, fashioning a 0.88 ERA over eight innings.
New York Mets outfielder Jason Bay was named the Tip O'Neill winner last year.