Votto 2nd in rookie of the year vote

Published 1:25 am Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Evan Longoria won the American League Rookie of the Year award Monday by unanimous vote, and Geovany Soto ran away with the NL honor.

Following a season of breakthroughs for the AL champion Rays, Longoria became the first Tampa Bay player to win a national award from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The power-hitting third baseman received all 28 first-place votes, becoming the AL’s first unanimous rookie winner since Nomar Garciaparra in 1997.

“It’s so special. It’s tough to put into words. Obviously, I appreciate every vote,” Longoria said on a conference call from his California home. “The whole award is everything to me and I’m just so happy that I was able to receive it.”

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Soto, the steady catcher who helped the Cubs win the NL Central title, received 31 of 32 first-place votes. The other went to Cincinnati’s Joey Votto.

“It was really emotional,” Soto said from Puerto Rico. “I feel very honored.”

Called up from the minors in April, Longoria batted .272 with 27 homers and 85 RBI despite missing five weeks after breaking his right wrist Aug. 7. Confident at the plate and splendid on defense, he was a big reason for the Rays’ stunning surge to the World Series after 10 consecutive losing seasons.

Chicago White Sox second baseman Alexei Ramirez was the runner-up after receiving 18 second-place votes. Boston outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury finished third.

Soto hit .285 with 23 homers, 35 doubles and 86 RBI. He became the first catcher to win Rookie of the Year in either league since Mike Piazza of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1993.

The previous winner from the Cubs was pitcher Kerry Wood 10 years ago.

“I just didn’t want to put extra pressure on myself. I just wanted to do my job as the team required,” Soto said. “I’m really excited about the year I had.”