Etobicoke, Ont., native Joey Votto will be presented with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2016 Tip O’Neill Award in a ceremony in the Blue Jays interview room on May 29 at Rogers Centre prior to the Cincinnati Reds/Toronto Blue Jays game.
This will be the sixth time in seven years that Votto has won the award.
The St. Marys, Ont.-based shrine presents this honour annually to the Canadian player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.
To determine the winner, the Hall took into account a number of criteria, including each candidate’s on-the-field performance, contributions to their team, community and charitable endeavors and support in fan voting.
The Cincinnati Reds first baseman, who shared the Tip O’Neill Award with John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) in 2011, staved off strong competition from Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin (East York, Ont.), outfielder Michael Saunders (Victoria, B.C.), Baseball America double-A Minor League Player of the Year Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) and national women’s team MVP Amanda Asay (Prince George, B.C.) to capture the honour.
“Joey Votto had another outstanding season on the field in 2016,” said Scott Crawford, the Hall’s director of operations. “But he also continues to be very active in charitable endeavors away from the field. He’s an excellent ambassador for the game of baseball in Canada and we’re proud to honour him with this award.”
Votto’s .326 batting average in 2016 was the third-best in the National League, but he hit .408 in the season’s second-half to become one of just seven players in major league history to bat over .400 after the All-Star break in a season. He led the National League in on-base percentage (OBP) (.434), times on base (294) and on-base plus slugging percentage plus (OPS+) (160) and finished second in on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) (.985) and walks (108). He also posted a .550 slugging percentage and recorded 181 hits, good for sixth and eighth in the National League respectively.
His 2016 campaign represented just the 19th time in major league history that a Canadian has completed a season with a batting average over .300, an OBP over .400 and a slugging percentage over .500.
For his efforts, he was nominated for the National League’s Hank Aaron Award, handed out to the league’s top hitter, and he finished seventh in the National League MVP voting.
“I thank the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for the recognition. It is very humbling, because our country produces some very good baseball players,” said Votto. “We all need to thank the Baseball Hall of Fame’s efforts in promoting the sport and our native players.”