In a season full of outstanding rookie performances, standouts Gordon Beckham (Chicago White Sox) and J.A. Happ (Philadelphia Phillies) were voted by their peers as tops in Major League Baseball’s 2009 freshman class. Beginning Oct. 26, the Major League Baseball Players Association and ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic announced the winners of the 2009 Players Choice Awards for each league’s Outstanding Rookie during the first of a series of segments to be broadcast exclusively this week on the Mike & Mike in the Morning show (6 am-10 am ET). The 2009 Players Choice Awards, presented by Upper Deck, benefit the Major League Baseball Players Trust.
Happ, 27, made an impressive jump from the Phillies’ bullpen to starter in late May, by posting a record of 12-4 with an ERA of 2.93. Drafted by the Phillies in the third round of the 2004 June draft (92nd overall), this season Happ struck out 119 batters in 166 innings pitched and posted two shutouts. In 2008, the 6’6” native of Peru, IL, finished second in the International League in strikeouts, with 151, and averaged 10.1 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched.
Beckham, 23, was drafted by Chicago in the 2008 June draft and made the jump to the majors a quick one. He impressed his AL peers in short-order after making his season debut on June 4, and in just 103 games for the White Sox, he finished with 14 home runs, 63 RBI, 28 doubles and a .270 batting average. In 2008, Beckham attended the University of Georgia, where be batted .411 with 28 homers and 77 RBIs, becoming the first Bulldog to hit over .400 since 1982. He finished the 2008 season tied for first among NCAA Division I home run leaders and was second in runs (97) and total bases (221).
Players Choice Awards annually recognize the best player, pitcher, rookie and comeback player in each league. The Player of the Year and Marvin Miller 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 2009 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 $3.5 million dollars to charities around the world in honor of Players Choice Award winners.
The 2009 Players Choice Awards finalists are:
Outstanding Rookie: Elvis Andrus (Texas), Gordon Beckham (Chicago White Sox), Jeff Niemann (Tampa Bay)
Comeback Player: Russell Branyan (Seattle), Aaron Hill (Toronto), Scott Podsednik (Chicago White Sox)
Outstanding Pitcher: Roy Halladay (Toronto), Zack Greinke (Kansas City), C.C. Sabathia (NY Yankees)
Outstanding Player: Derek Jeter (NY Yankees), Joe Mauer (Minnesota), Kendry Morales (LA Angels of Anaheim)
Outstanding Rookie: Chris Coghlan (Florida), Tommy Hanson (Atlanta), J.A. Happ (Philadelphia)
Comeback Player: Aaron Boone (Houston), Chris Carpenter (St. Louis), Nick Johnson (Florida)
Outstanding Pitcher: Chris Carpenter (St. Louis), Tim Lincecum (San Francisco), Adam Wainwright (St. Louis)
Outstanding Player: Prince Fielder (Milwaukee), Albert Pujols (St. Louis), Hanley Ramirez (Florida)
Man of the Year: Curtis Granderson (Detroit), Torii Hunter (LA Angeles of Anaheim), Albert Pujols (St. Louis)
Player of Year: Joe Mauer (Minnesota), Albert Pujols (St. Louis), Hanley Ramirez (Florida)
ESPN Radio’s broadcast schedule for the 2009 Players Choice Awards:
October 26 – AL & NL Outstanding Rookies – Winners: Gordon Beckham (AL)/J.A. Happ (NL)
October 27 – AL & NL Comeback Players
October 28 – AL & NL Outstanding Pitchers
October 29 – AL & NL Outstanding Players
October 30 – Marvin Miller Man of the Year & Player of the Year