Gordon Beckham, who rushed through the Minor Leagues to take his place in the middle of the White Sox batting order, and J.A. Happ, who emerged from the bullpen to solidify the Phillies' pennant-winning rotation, were voted by their peers as the outstanding rookies in their leagues in the 2009 Players Choice Awards.
The Outstanding Rookie awards were announced on Monday in separate segments of ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike in the Morning show presented by Upper Deck. The Players Choice Awards for the outstanding comeback players in each league will be announced on Tuesday, outstanding pitchers on Wednesday and outstanding players in each league on Thursday.
The Players Choice Awards announcements will culminate on Friday with the Marvin Miller Man of the Year, which goes to the player whose on- and off-the-field performance most inspires others to higher levels of achievement, and the overall Player of the Year.
Happ, 27, who moved to the Phillies starting rotation in late May, finished the regular season with a 12-4 record and a 2.93 ERA in 35 games, including 23 starts. A graduate of Northwestern University, Happ is known for his intelligence, concentration and command. He was originally drafted by the Phillies in 2004.
The 6-foot-6 left-hander is preparing to participate in his first World Series, beginning on Wednesday when the Phillies play the Yankees in Game 1.
"All year long, I knew I was fortunate enough to be on a very good baseball team. I hoped all along that we would get this opportunity," Happ told ESPN's Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic on Monday. "I like the way we've been playing."
Beckham, 23, was the eighth overall draft pick in June 2008 coming out of the University of Georgia, where his 53 homers were the most in school history. He played in the Arizona Fall League and then with the White Sox in Spring Training. Then, he sped through Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte before getting summoned to Chicago in early June.
Beckham, who also transitioned seamlessly from his natural position of shortstop to third base this spring, batted .270 with 28 doubles, 14 homers and 63 RBIs in 103 games for the White Sox, impressing the club along the way with his poise and leadership skills.
"To be noticed by your peers and noticed in the time that I was up there, that's the highest compliment you can get," Beckham told ESPN.
Each 2009 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 $3.5 million to charities around the world in honor of Players Choice Award winners.
Happ said he would likely use his grant from the Players Trust to make a donation to the Diabetes Research Institute, noting that his sister has Type 1 Diabetes.
Beckham said he would split his Players Trust grant money between the National Parkinson Foundation, because he has a grandfather with Parkinson Disease and the Children's Hospital of Illinois. Beckham said he wanted to help the hospital because veteran teammate and mentor Jim Thome introduced him to the charity.
The Players Choice Awards are selected by the players themselves in balloting conducted in September under the supervision of the accounting firm KPMG. The 2009 Players Choice Awards are being presented by Upper Deck.
The 2009 Players Choice Awards finalists are [winners in bold]:
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)
Marvin Miller 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)
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.