10/07/2006 1:01 PM ET
Garciaparra, Thome win 2006 Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Award presented by Viagra
Nomar Garciaparra of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jim Thome of the Chicago White Sox are the recipients of the 2006 Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Award presented by Viagra® (sildenafil citrate), it was announced today. The Comeback Player of the Year Award is officially sanctioned by Major League Baseball, and is presented annually to one player in each League who fans believe has re-emerged on the baseball field during the season.
Garciaparra and Thome were selected by more than 450,000 fans who voted on MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball.
This season, Garciaparra, who received 72,054 votes, won by a decisive margin, and re-emerged as a star on the baseball field this year after a couple of injury-riddled seasons. For the season, the Dodgers' first baseman batted .303 with 20 home runs and 93 RBI. Additionally, the right-handed slugger was selected to his sixth All-Star Game while leading the Dodgers back to the playoffs.
The 1997 AL Rookie of the Year played first base this year for the first time in his career and committed only four errors in 1,124 total chances for a fielding percentage of .996. The two-time AL batting champion helped the Dodgers reach the postseason with some clutch hitting during the last two weeks of the regular season including two dramatic walk-off home runs. Garciaparra will be honored prior to today's New York Mets - Los Angeles Dodgers Divisional Playoff game.
Thome, who garnered 55,587 votes, also led wire to wire in the voting to win the award, re-establishing himself as one of the game's elites by hitting 42 home runs and driving in 109. The White Sox left-handed slugger rebounded from an injury-marred 2005 campaign to cap a tremendous comeback
by finishing tied for third in the American League in home runs (42), third in walks (107), fifth in slugging percentage (.598) and seventh in runs (108).
The 2006 All-Star selection and five-time All-Star is 26th on the all-time home run list with 472 and 28th all-time with 1,364 walks. The Peoria, Ill., native is one of only two players with 40 or more home runs in each league in consecutive seasons (Ken Griffey, Jr. 1999-2000). He ranks fifth all-time with 17 postseason home runs and 12th all-time in RBI. Thome will be recognized at a later date.
Representatives of Major League Baseball and the editorial staff at MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball, selected the 12 nominees - six players from each League - for the Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Award Presented by Viagra®. Last season, Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees and Ken Griffey, Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds were named the inaugural recipients of the "Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Award Presented by Viagra® (sildenafil citrate)."
To further engage fans in the selection process, Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) introduced an online sweepstakes in conjunction with the "Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Award Presented by Viagra® (sildenafil citrate)." As part of the program, one lucky sweepstakes winner will have the opportunity to throw out a ceremonial first pitch prior to a 2006 World Series® game.