Votto named Canada’s top baseball player

December 5, 2012, 5:08 PM

THE CANADIAN PRESS

ST. MARYS, Ont. — Cincinnati Reds slugger Joey Votto is the winner of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Tip O’Neill Award for the third straight year.

The award is given 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 from Toronto, had a .337 batting average with 14 homers and 56 RBIs last season.

"I thank the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for recognizing my contributions to our division championship team," Votto said Wednesday in a release. "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 does not release vote totals.

Major leaguers Scott Diamond, Ryan Dempster, Justin Morneau, Brett Lawrie, Russell Martin, Jim Henderson and Michael Saunders were also considered by Hall voters and online supporters.

"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," said Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame operations director Scott Crawford. "We were heartened to see so much passion for Canadian players. 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."

National team members Jimmy Van Ostrand and Stephanie Savoie also received consideration.

Votto, who missed seven weeks of the season due to a knee injury, led all Canadian major-league players in several categories including batting average, on-base percentage (.474), slugging percentage (.567), walks (94) and doubles (44).

Votto, who shared last year’s award with Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford, is the first player to win the award three years in a row.

He’s the third player to win the award at least three times, joining three-time winner Jason Bay and nine-time winner Larry Walker. Votto will be presented with the award in a pre-game ceremony in Cincinnati early in the 2013 season.

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.

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