NEW YORK -- Perseverance and dedication took center stage today as Major League baseball players named Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Carlos Pena and Washington Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young the season's top comeback players. The Major League Baseball Players Trust and Yahoo! Sports today announced the American League and National League winners of the 2007 Players Choice Awards for Comeback Player in an internet webisode (http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/awards/pa) highlighting the on-field performances and community leadership of Major League players. [See webcast schedule below for more Players Choice Award announcements.]
After missing three-fourths of the 2005 and 2006 seasons, Pena, 29, attacked the 2007 season with a vengeance, finishing the season among the top-10 in five statistical categories: fourth in home runs with 46; sixth in RBI with 121; ninth in on-base percentage at .411; second in slugging percentage at .627; and seventh in walks with 103. Originally told that he would not make the Rays' 2007 Big League roster, Pena returned home to Orlando before receiving the call that began his comeback. He went on to set Tampa Bays single-season records in homers, RBI and walks, and became just the eleventh player in American League history to have 100 walks, 45 homers and 120 RBI in a single season.
Young, 35, encountered problems on and off the field during the 2006 season, when he was released by the American League Champion Detroit Tigers after only 48 games and shortly thereafter was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Persuaded by family members not to give up, he accepted the Nationals 2007 spring training invitation as a non-roster player and made the club, putting up impressive numbers that earned him a spot in the 2007 All-Star Game. He finished the season with a .320 batting average (tenth in the National League), 74 RBI and 38 doubles in 136 games played.
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 2007 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 million dollars to charities around the world in honor of Players Choice Award winners.
The 2007 Players Choice Awards finalists are [winners in bold]:
Player of the Year: Matt Holliday (Colorado), Magglio Ordonez (Detroit), Alex Rodriguez (NY Yankees)
Marvin Miller Man of the Year: Tom Glavine (NY Mets), Torii Hunter (Minnesota), Jake Peavy (San Diego)
Outstanding Player: Curtis Granderson (Detroit), Magglio Ordonez (Detroit), Alex Rodriguez (NY Yankees)
Outstanding Pitcher: Josh Beckett (Boston), C.C. Sabathia (Cleveland), Chien-Ming Wang (NY Yankees)
Outstanding Rookie: Brian Bannister (Kansas City), Dustin Pedroia (Boston), Delmon Young (Tampa Bay)
Comeback Player of the Year: Jon Lester (Boston), Carlos Pena (Tampa Bay), Sammy Sosa (Texas)
Outstanding Player: Prince Fielder (Milwaukee), Matt Holliday (Colorado), David Wright (NY Mets)
Outstanding Pitcher: Jeff Francis (Colorado), Jake Peavy (San Diego), Brandon Webb (Arizona)
Outstanding Rookie: Ryan Braun (Milwaukee), Hunter Pence (Houston), Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado)
Comeback Player of the Year: Rick Ankiel (St. Louis), Josh Hamilton (Cincinnati), Dmitri Young (Washington)
Yahoo! Sports webcast schedule of the 2007 Players Choice Awards:
Tuesday, October 23 AL & NL Outstanding Pitchers
Wednesday, October 24 AL & NL Outstanding Players
Thursday, October 25 AL & NL Outstanding Rookies
Friday, October 26 AL & NL Comeback Players
Saturday, October 27 Player of the Year/Marvin Miller Man of the Year