Pujols, Hamilton named top players
Sluggers voted as top 2008 Outstanding Players by their peers
Veteran slugger Albert Pujols won his fifth career Players Choice Award while rising star Josh Hamilton captured his first, as each was named his league's Outstanding Player in player balloting announced on Tuesday.
Pujols, a model of performance, consistency and durability over his first eight Major League seasons, was previously the NL Outstanding Rookie in 2001, the NL Outstanding Player and overall Player of the Year in 2003 and was the Marvin Miller Man of the Year in 2006.
This season, the seven-time All-Star put aside a nagging elbow injury to bat .357 with 37 home runs, 116 RBIs and 100 runs scored in 148 games. His .653 slugging average and 1.114 OPS were the best in the Major Leagues while he trailed only Chipper Jones in batting and on-base average.
It was the eighth consecutive season in which Pujols has reached both the 30-home run and 100-RBI plateaus.
"I don't think about numbers. I don't think about home runs. I just go out and do my best," Pujols told Yahoo! Sports. "I'm blessed to have the opportunity to play this game. There are a lot of players who wish for an opportunity like this but don't get it."
Hamilton, the first overall draft pick in 1999, left baseball for three years and battled addiction before a remarkable recovery led to a return with the Cincinnati Reds last season.
Traded to the Texas Rangers in December 2007, Hamilton lived up to the promise of his rare athleticism. He shot into fame with a midsummer power display in the nationally televised Home Run Derby last July, launching 28 home runs, including homers on 13 consecutive swings in one stretch. The left-handed hitting 27-year-old led the AL with 130 RBIs and 331 total bases to go along with 32 homers and a .901 OPS.
"There's a time I never thought I'd see a baseball field again," Hamilton said. "When I put God first, he restored all that."
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.
"In my mind, it's the highest award," Hamilton said. "It's my peers voting on it. To have those guys write me in means everything to me."
The Outstanding Rookies in each league will be announced by Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday, followed by the leagues' Comeback Players on Thursday. The 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.
Cliff Lee of the Indians and Tim Lincecum of the Giants were named Outstanding Pitchers in their respective leagues in Players Choice Awards announced on Monday.
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.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.