10/22/2008 12:58 PM ET
Major League Baseball players name best pitchers in each league
NEW YORK -- In a season that saw an infusion of young talent in both leagues, rookie standouts Geovany Soto (Chicago Cubs) and Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay Rays) were voted by their peers as tops in Major League Baseball’s freshman class of 2008. Today, the Major League Baseball Players Trust and Yahoo! Sports announced the winners of the 2008 Players Choice Awards for each league’s Outstanding Rookie in an Internet "webisode" highlighting their exceptional achievements. [See webcast schedule below for more Players Choice Award announcements.] The 2008 Players Choice Awards, presented by Playstation ®, benefit the Major League Baseball Players Trust. Additional support for the Players Choice Awards is provided by The Topps Company and The Upper Deck Company.
Soto, in just his first full-season in the Majors, has already been categorized as one of the top offensive catchers in the game. After tearing through the minors and displaying his potential as a late season call-up in 2007, Soto solidified himself in 2008 as the Cubs everyday catcher. By the end of the season he found himself tied for the league lead in home runs by a catcher, with 23, while batting .285 and driving in 86 runs. His impressive start to the season led to his selection as the starting catcher for the 2008 NL All-Star team, becoming the first-ever NL rookie catcher to do so.
Longoria, despite starting the season in the minors, finished the year with impressive numbers for any Major Leaguer, let alone a rookie. In just 122 games, the third baseman hit 27 homers, drove in 85 runs and scored 67, while providing a spark for the surprise AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays. It has taken little time for the 3rd overall pick in the 2006 Major League Baseball draft to prove he belongs in the Majors, drawing early comparisons to Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. and Mike Schmidt and earning a spot in 2008 All-Star Game after fans selected him in the on-line Final Vote competition.
Players Choice Awards annually recognize the best player, pitcher, rookie and comeback player in each league. The Player of the Year and Man of the Year awards bestow top honors without regard to league. Balloting of all Major League players for the Players Choice Awards was conducted in September under the supervision of accounting firm KPMG.
Each 2008 Players Choice Award winner will recommend 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.
The 2008 Players Choice Awards finalists are:
Outstanding Player: Josh Hamilton (Texas), Justin Morneau (Minnesota), Dustin Pedroia (Boston)
Outstanding Pitcher: Roy Halladay (Toronto), Cliff Lee (Cleveland), Francisco Rodriguez (LA Angels of Anaheim)
Outstanding Rookie: Mike Aviles (Kansas City), Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay), Alexei Ramirez (Chicago)
Comeback Player of the Year: Josh Hamilton (Texas), Cliff Lee (Cleveland), Troy Percival (Tampa Bay)
Outstanding Player: Ryan Howard (Philadelphia), Chipper Jones (Atlanta), Albert Pujols (St. Louis)
Outstanding Pitcher: Tim Lincecum (San Francisco), CC Sabathia (Milwaukee), Brandon Webb (Arizona)
Outstanding Rookie: Geovany Soto (Chicago), Jair Jurrjens (Atlanta), Joey Voto (Cincinnati)
Comeback Player of the Year: Jorge Cantu (Florida), Fernando Tatis (NY Mets), Kerry Wood (Chicago)
Player of the Year: Cliff Lee (Cleveland), Albert Pujols (St. Louis), Manny Ramirez (LA Dodgers)
Marvin Miller Man of the Year: Derek Jeter (NY Yankees), Albert Pujols (St. Louis), Michael Young (Texas)
Yahoo! Sports webcast schedule of the 2008 Players Choice Awards:
Monday, Oct. 20 – AL & NL Outstanding Pitchers - Winners: Cliff Lee (AL)/Tim Lincecum (NL)
Tuesday, Oct. 21 – AL & NL Outstanding Players - Winners: Josh Hamilton (AL)/Albert Pujols (NL)
Wednesday, Oct. 22 – AL & NL Outstanding Rookies - Winners: Evan Longoria (AL)/Geovany Soto (NL)
Thursday, Oct. 23 – AL & NL Comeback Players
Friday, Oct. 24 – Player of the Year/Marvin Miller Man of the Year