Votto, Axford top list of worthy candidates
John Axford (Port Dover, ON) – Led the Milwaukee Brewers to the playoffs with a National League leading 46 saves, won the NL Rolaids Relief Man award and finished ninth in Cy Young voting. The 6’5”, 195-pounder’s single season save total ranks third in Canadian history, trailing only Eric Gagné, who chalked up seasons of 55 and 52 saves. The moustachioed right-hander compiled a 1.95 ERA with 86 strikeouts, 25 walks, and 59 hits over 73 innings. Beginning April 24th, he converted 43 consecutive saves, and overall converted 46 saves in 48 save opportunities. His ERA after the All-Star Break was 0.84. In six playoff appearances, Axford had a win, three saves, struck out nine in seven innings, and landed a 1.29 ERA.
Jason Bay (Trail, BC) – After a late start due to injury, the 2009 Tip winner smacked a dozen homers, 109 hits, 19 doubles, 57 RBI and a Canadian-leading 11 stolen bases for the New York Mets. Won NL Player of the Week on September 12th. OBP – .329, SLG – .374, BA – .245.
Jesse Crain (Toronto, ON) – Appeared in 67 games for the Chicago White Sox, collected eight wins, 2.62 ERA, struck out 70 and allowed 50 hits in 65 innings.
Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, BC) – The Chicago Cubs opening day starter amassed 10 wins, threw 202 innings, striking out 191, and had a 4.80 ERA in his Canadian-best 34 starts. Nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award.
Scott Diamond (Guelph, ON) – Had seven starts for the Minnesota Twins, winning one, striking out 19 over 39 innings, and had an ERA of 5.08.
Jeff Francis (Vancouver, BC) – After injuries limited him to just 19 starts in 2010, the tall left-hander rebounded to start 31 games for the Kansas City Royals, winning six, pitching 183 innings, striking out 91, and amassing a 4.82 ERA.
Taylor Green (Comox, BC)– Milwaukee Brewers third baseman appeared in 20 games as a September call-up, batted .270. Was Pacific Coast League All-Star and Baseball America 2nd-Team Minor League All-Star. At Triple-A, 120 games, 141 hits, 22 HR, 36 doubles, 88 RBI, BA – .336, SLG – .583, OBP – .413.
Rich Harden (Victoria, BC) – Limited service with Oakland A’s due to injury, 15 starts, four wins, 91 strikeouts in 82 innings, 5.12 ERA.
Blake Hawksworth (North Vancouver, BC) – Relieved for the LA Dodgers, hip problems limited him to 49 games, two wins, 43 strikeouts in 53 innings, 4.08 ERA.
George Kottaras (Toronto, ON) – Back-up catcher with Milwaukee played 49 games, batted .252, five HR, SLG – .459, OBP – .311. Hit for the cycle in Houston on September 3rd, the first major leaguer to do it in 2011, and the first Canadian to hit for the cycle since (who else?) Tip O’Neill did it twice in 1887. 2011 CBHFM inductee George Wood (Pownal, PEI) also hit for the cycle in 1885.
Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) – Charlie Hustle attitude brought electric atmosphere when the third baseman was called up to the Toronto Blue Jays, playing 43 games, batting .293, with 44 hits, nine HR, 8 doubles, 25 RBI, seven stolen bases, SLG – .580, OBP – .373, and a memorable extra-inning walk-off HR against the Boston Red Sox. The right-handed slugger was just named to the Topp’s 2011 All-Rookie Team. At Triple-A, played 69 games, 103 hits, 18 HR, 61 RBI, 13 SB, BA – 353, SLG – .661, OBP – .415. Was Pacific Coast League’s Player of the Month in May, named Baseball America 1st Team Minor League All-Star, and Baseball America Triple-A All-Star.
Chris Leroux (Montreal, QC) – The 6’6”, 225 lb right-hander appeared in 23 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates, winning one, striking out 24 batters in 25 innings, and compiling a 2.88 ERA.
Adam Loewen (Vancouver, BC) – Completed the remarkable transition from major league pitcher to major league position player due to arm injury. Called up to the Blue Jays in September, played 14 games, six hits, one HR. At Triple-A, in 134 games, smacked 159 hits, 17 HR, 46 doubles, stole 11 bases, BA – .306, SLG – .508, OBP – .377. Recently signed with the New York Mets.
Trystan Magnuson (Vancouver, BC) – Pitched in nine games with the Oakland A’s, striking out 11 in 14 innings, 6.14 ERA.
Jonathan Malo (Joliette, QC) – Shortstop led Team Canada to bronze medal at World Cup and gold at Pan Am Games. Named to World Cup All-Star Team (quite a rarity for a Canadian middle infielder), batted .382, collected 13 hits and played exceptional defence while starting every game for Canada. Batted 316 at Pan Ams. Team Canada improved to 6th in world ranking. Batted 226 at Double-A and Triple-A in NY Mets system.
Russell Martin (East York, ON) – New York Yankees everyday catcher was an American League All-Star, finished first in assists, and in 125 games had 99 hits, 18 HR, 17 doubles, eight stolen bases, BA – .237, SLG – .408, OBP – .324.
Scott Mathieson (Vancouver, BC) – Limited action attempting comeback following third elbow surgery, including two Tommy John elbow ligament replacements. Pitched in four games, five innings, struck out five, 0.00 ERA.
Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC) – Former AL MVP with Larry Walker career-like potential still feeling effects of concussion, playing only 69 games, with 60 hits, four HR, 16 doubles, 30 RBI, BA – .227, SLG – .333, OBP – .285.
Mike Nickeas (Vancouver, BC) – Back-up catcher for the New York Mets saw action in 21 games, 10 hits, .194 BA.
Pete Orr (Toronto, ON) – Utility infielder for Philadelphia Phillies played in 46 games, 21 hits, three doubles, three stolen bases, .219 BA.
Scott Richmond (Vancouver, BC) – Hampered by injury, only had one outing with the Toronto Blue Jays. Closed out the Pan Am Games gold medal game with three innings of sparkling relief against the USA to hold Canada’s 2-1 lead, and striking out the game’s final hitter to give Canada its first ever gold medal at the Senior level.
Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC) – Seattle Mariners outfielder played 58 games, 24 hits, five doubles, six stolen bases, .149 BA.
Matt Stairs (St. John, NB) – Ended incredible MLB career having played for a record 13 teams. The power hitting outfielder who hold the major league record with 23 pinch-hit homeruns. Saw limited action, mainly pinch-hit, in 56 games with Washington Nationals, totalled 10 hits and a .154 BA. Ironically, despite the left-handed slugger’s sure-fire future Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame career numbers, Stairs did not win a Tip O’Neill Award in any of his 19 seasons. Arguably could have won or shared the Tip in his best season, 1999, with 38 HR and 102 RBI, but Larry Walker knocked 37 HR and 115 RBI in 20 fewer games, and won the batting title with a .379 clip, and a superb OPS of 1.168, while Stairs batted .258 and had an .899 OPS.
Joey Votto – (Etobicoke, ON) – NL All-Star and Gold Glove winner finished sixth in MVP voting. The 2010 NL MVP batted .309 including 29 HR, 72 extra base hits, and a Canadian record 110 bases on balls. The Cincinnati Reds marquee player led the NL in BA on the road (.334) and BA with runners in scoring position (.383), and led all MLB first basemen in games (160) and innings played, total chances, putouts, assists and was second in double plays. Had 185 hits including NL-leading 40 doubles, 103 RBI, scored 101 runs, and stole eight bases. SLG – .531, OBP – .416, OPS – .947 (9th in NL).
Past winners of the James “Tip” O’Neill Award: