Evan Longoria, whose magical season continues into the World Series, and Geovany Soto, who emerged as a leader for the NL Central-champion Cubs, were selected by their peers as the Outstanding Rookies in their respective leagues in the Players Choice Awards.
10/22/2008 12:10 PM ET
Longoria, Soto earn Rookie honors
Rays third baseman takes rookie act to World Series
Longoria, who turned 23 earlier this month, took the AL by storm to help lead the surprising Rays to the AL pennant. He batted .272 with 27 home runs and 85 RBIs and earned a spot on the AL All-Star team along the way.
"It's an unbelievable honor," told Yahoo! Sports. "It's been an unbelievable season for us. We're hoping to keep it going but as for my season, I couldn't be more excited."
Soto, an unheralded 11th-round draft pick in 2001, took over the catching duties for a talented Cubs team that was expected to battle for the division title. The 25-year-old from San Juan batted .285 with 23 homers and 86 RBIs.
"All I was trying to do was work hard and get to the big leagues as soon as possible," Soto said. "It's pretty amazing, kind of surreal right now."
Soto's most important contribution came behind the plate where he guided one of the game's best pitching staffs. The Cubs had an MLB-low .242 opponents batting average awhile allowing the NL's second fewest runs (671) and second-lowest on-base average (.316 ).
"We had a lot of veteran pitchers who were up to the hard work," Soto said. "I always talked to them -- [Ryan] Dempster, [Carlos] Zambrano, [Ted] Lilly, [Jason] Marquis and [Rich] Harden. They were easy going and ready to work. Everyone was in sync. We were on the same page, so it was a fun season."
The Players Choice Awards are selected by the players themselves in balloting conducted in September under the supervision of the accounting firm KPMG. Players are invariably gratified to be honored by their peers.
The Outstanding Comeback players in each league will be announced by Yahoo! Sports on Thursday. The overall Player of the Year, a vote of players in both leagues, as well as the Marvin Miller Man of the Year will be announced on Friday.
Each 2008 Players Choice Award winner recommends the charity of his choice to receive a grant from the Major League Baseball Players Trust. Since 1992, the Players Trust has contributed more than $3.25 million dollars to charities around the world in honor of Players Choice Award winners.