Lefty pitcher Paxton wins Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Tip O’Neill award

ST. MARYS, Ont. — Left-handed pitcher James Paxton has been named the winner of the 2018 Tip O’Neill Award by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

The award is given out annually by the Hall of Fame to the Canadian player “judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.”

The 30-year-old from Ladner, B.C., became the first Canadian pitcher to throw a major league no-hitter on home soil when he held the Toronto Blue Jays hitless in a 5-0 win for the Seattle Mariners on May 8 at Rogers Centre. That performance came just six days after he had set a Canadian record by striking out 16 batters on May 2 in a start against the Oakland A’s.

The six-foot-four southpaw went 11-6 with a 3.76 earned-run average and struck out 208 batters for the Mariners before being dealt to the New York Yankees last month.

His 208 strikeouts are the second-most by a Canadian left-hander in a major league season and he became one of only two pitchers in big league history to notch 200 strikeouts in a season in 161 or fewer innings.

“I am extremely honoured to have been named the Tip O’Neill Award winner for 2018,” Paxton said in a statement. “I am proud to be representing Canada in Major League Baseball and try to do so to the best of my ability.

“I will continue to give everything I have to be the best baseball player and person I can be. Thank you so much to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for recognizing my efforts.”

Paxton is a first-time winner of the award. Cincinnati Reds slugger and seven-time winner Joey Votto of Toronto, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill of Maple Ridge, B.C., and Montreal-born Blue Jays prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. were also in the running for the award.

“James Paxton had an outstanding season in 2018,” Scott Crawford, director of operations of the Hall of Fame, said in a release. “Not only did he make history when he became the first Canadian to throw a major league no-hitter on Canadian soil, but he also struck out batters at a near-record rate over the course of the season. He’s definitely a worthy recipient of the award.”

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