Source: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame – www.baseballhalloffame.ca
St. Marys, ON – Joey Votto wore the same Team Canada uniform as Larry Walker and Justin Morneau at the 2009 World Baseball Classic, he recently joined them as the only Canadians to ever win an MVP award, and now his name will appear alongside of theirs on the Tip O’Neill trophy, as he has been awarded the 2010 honour presented annually by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to the player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.
Votto, 27, who was notified by the ball hall this morning, will be presented the prestigious award tentatively on April 30th, which is slated to be a Joey Votto Bobblehead Night at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The slugging first baseman, who led the Cincinnati Reds to the NL’s Central Division Championship, was much more comfortable talking about his fellow Canucks than himself. He quickly quelled the comparison to nine-time Tip O’Neill winner Walker, who is one of only four repeat winners of the award, along with Jason Bay (3), Eric Gagné (2) and Morneau (2).
“No way have I become Canada’s best player – this is no more than just a case of me being judged by you guys to have had the best season by a Canadian-born player,” insisted Votto fom his Florida home where he is already prepping for 2011.
“There are several very good Canadians and I’m very proud to be mentioned in any conversation that includes Walker and all of the current players, especially Justin. I just wish the best for him and his family, and I hope he is healing well (from the head injury that sidelined him for the second half of the season). Justin isn’t only one of the best Canadians in the game, but one of the best players in the game, Canadian or not.”
Votto, who batted .324, hit 37 home runs and drove home 113 runs, in addition to compiling an incredible league-leading .424 on-base percentage and .600 slugging percentage, racked up 31 of 32 first place votes in winning the National League’s MVP award. He also won the Hank Aaron Award.
The Etobicoke native’s march to being awarded the Tip was a similar landslide. In an internet and Facebook poll taken by the Ball Hall, more than 80% of respondents chose Votto.
Ryan Dempster, who won the Tip in 2000, placed second in the Hall’s voting, based on the Gibsons, B.C. pitcher’s 15 wins for he Chicago Cubs, not to mention 208 strikeouts in 215 innings.
“Ryan is one of the most difficult right-handers for me to face,” said Votto, whose only hit in his six at bats against Dempster this past season was a three-run homer
“He has a lot of good stuff and seems to have a knack for the strikeout. I really have a lot of respect for him and his approach to the game.”
Finishing third in the Tip voting was Simcoe, ON-born John Axford, who took over the Milwaukee Brewers closer role as a rookie and finished the season with 24 saves, an earned run average of 2.38, and struck out 76 batters in 58 innings.
“John has a chance to become a pretty big pain in my behind as he improves,” remarked Votto, who was fanned by Axford in their only confrontation in 2010.
“His stuff is good and his awkward delivery makes for a tough at bat.”
Morneau, whose tremendous first half earned him All-Star status, finished fourth in the voting. The Westminster, B.C. native batted .345 with a .437 OBP and a .618 SLG, ripping 18 home runs and 25 doubles in just 81 games for the Minnesota Twins.
There was a three-way tie for fifth place between Twins reliever Jesse Crain, and national team MVP’s Jamie Romak and Kate Psota.
Toronto-born Crain was a key member of the Twins bullpen, appearing in 71 games, amassing 68 innings and 62 strikeouts.
“Jesse seems to have a good outing every time he steps on the mound. I really enjoyed him as a teammate at the World Baseball Classic,” added Votto.
London, ON’s Romak, who plays in the Kansas City Royals organization, hit five home runs and batted .448 in winning the MVP at the World Cup/Pan-Am Games qualifying tournament held in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the fall.
Psota, from Burlington, ON, was recently named MVP of Canada’s National Women’s Team for the second consecutive year for batting .500 and chalking up an 0.88 ERA at the 2010 World Cup held in Venezuela.
“I haven’t yet had the pleasure of getting to know Jamie or Kate, but there is nothing like wearing the Maple Leaf on your chest and playing for your country. I really respect their contributions to Team Canada,” noted Votto.