For the third consecutive year, Joey Votto has won the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Tip O’Neill Award.
The St. Marys, Ont.-based ball shrine presents this honour annually to the Canadian player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.
Votto, an all-star first baseman with Cincinnati Reds and the pride of Etobicoke, Ont., was named the winner by the Hall which received input from more than 1,000 internet voters.
Votto, who captured the National League MVP award in 2010, becomes the first player to win the award three years in a row and the third player to win it three times, joining Trail, B.C.’s Jason Bay and Maple Ridge, B.C. native Larry Walker (who won the award nine times).
“We had more internet participation and debate about who should win this year’s award than any previous year and we were happy about that.
We were heartened to see so much passion for Canadian players,” said Scott Crawford, director of operations at the Canadian Baseball Hall.
“This year, we had at least 10 players who were legitimate contenders for this award. It was extremely close, but in the end, Joey Votto, who had another all-star season and helped lead the Reds to the post-season, was slightly ahead of the rest of the pack.”
The Reds’ first sacker, who shared last year’s Tip O’Neill Award with Milwaukee Brewers’ closer John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) will be presented with the award in a pre-game ceremony in Cincinnati early in the 2013 season.
Scott Diamond (Guelph, Ont.), Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.), Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.), Brett Lawrie (Langley, B.C.), Russell Martin (East York, Ont.), Jim Henderson (Calgary, Alta.) and Michael Saunders (Victoria, B.C.) all received significant support in the voting, as did Team Canada’s Jimmy Van Ostrand (Vancouver, B.C.) and Team Canada women’s MVP Stephanie Savoie (Quebec City, Que.).
Named all-star again
Despite missing seven weeks of the season with a knee injury, Votto, who was selected to his third consecutive all-star game, still registered more walks (94) and doubles (44) than any other Canadian. He also tied for the National League lead and placed second respectively in those two offensive categories and led the Senior Circuit in intentional walks with 18.
His .474 on-base percentage, .567 slugging percentage, and .337 batting average were also the best among Canadian big leaguers. He also hit .389 in five playoff games. Defensively, Votto was a Gold Glove finalist and he topped National League first basemen with 116 assists.
“I thank the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for recognizing my contributions to our division championship team,” Votto said. “This spring, I am very much looking forward to representing our country in the World Baseball Classic and having the opportunity again to play alongside the best baseball players in Canada.”
The Hall’s Tip O’Neill award is named after Woodstock, Ont., native James ‘Tip’ O’Neill, who was one of major league baseball’s first legitimate stars. With the St. Louis Browns in 1887, O’Neill set big league records in hits, doubles, slugging percentage and total bases, while compiling a major league record .492 batting average.
Walks were counted as hits in 1887, but if O’Neill’s average was calculated by today’s standards, it would be .435, the second highest in big league history to Hugh Duffy (.438).