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(Gene J. Puskar/AP2010)
(Gene J. Puskar/AP2010)

Axford, Votto share Tip O'Neill Award Add to ...

Cincinnati Reds slugger Joey Votto is once again the winner of the Tip O'Neill Award as the top Canadian player in baseball.

This year he's sharing the honour.

Votto and Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford were named co-winners of the award Wednesday by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Votto was a National League all-star and Gold Glove winner this past season. The first baseman from Toronto finished sixth in MVP voting after posting a .309 average with 29 home runs, 103 RBIs and 110 walks.

Axford led the Brewers to the playoffs with a NL-leading 46 saves. The right-hander from Port Dover, Ont., won the league's Rolaids Relief Man award and finished ninth in Cy Young voting.

“While it is abundantly easy to make a case for either player to win the Tip, it is equally impossible to make an argument that either one of them should not win it,” Hall president Tom Valcke said in a release.

“After the exceptional seasons had by both of them, one being a pitcher and the other a position player, it came down to exactly that — how do you say no to either of them?”

It was the third tie in the award's 28-year history. It was last split between Eric Gagne and Larry Walker in 2002. Corey Koskie and Walker shared the honour in 2001.

It was the first O'Neill Award for Axford, who finished third in the voting last year behind Ryan Dempster and Votto.

“Any time you want to put my name in the company of Joey Votto and the likes of Justin (Morneau) and Larry (Walker), you just go right ahead,” Axford said.

Both Axford and Votto will be recognized by Hall representatives in a pre-game ceremony at their respective home ballparks early in the 2012 season.

“It's an honour to win a share of this award again and be mentioned alongside such great Canadian baseball players as Larry Walker, Jason Bay, Justin Morneau, Eric Gagne, and John Axford,” Votto said.

Major leaguers Erik Bedard, Jesse Crain, Dempster, Brett Lawrie and Russell Martin also received votes in the online poll, along with Team Canada men's MVP Jonathan Malo and Team Canada women's MVP Megean Cornellsen. The Hall does not release the vote totals.

The award is named after James (Tip) O'Neill. The Woodstock, Ont., native set several major league records with the St. Louis Browns in 1887.

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