Soto Named NL Rookie of the Year

CHICAGO – Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany Soto was today named the National League Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Soto received 31 of the possible 32 first-place votes and one second place vote for a total of 158 points. Cincinnati's Joey Votto placed second with 76 points.

Soto is the fifth player in franchise history to earn Rookie of the Year honors, the first since right-handed pitcher Kerry Wood in 1998. Outfielder Billy Williams (1961), infielder Ken Hubbs (1962) and outfielder Jerome Walton (1989) join Wood and Soto as Rookies of the Year in club history.

The 25-year-old Soto is the first Cubs catcher to earn the award and the first honored in the N.L. since Mike Piazza in 1993. Overall, five catchers have earned N.L. Rookie of the Year honors: Soto, Piazza, Benito Santiago (1987), Earl Williams (1971) and Johnny Bench (1968). Three catchers have earned the award in the American League (Sandy Alomar, Jr. in 1990, Carlton Fisk in 1972 and Thurman Munson in 1970).

Soto in 2008 became the first catcher in National League history to start the All-Star Game en route to a breakout campaign during which he batted .285 (141-for-494) with 23 home runs, 35 doubles and 86 RBI in 141 games. He led all major league rookies in RBI and doubles and ranked second in the National League in batting average and home runs. His 23 homers were the most by any rookie catcher since Mike Piazza hit 35 in 1993.

With 23 home runs in 2008, Soto set the club mark by a rookie catcher, the most by any Cubs rookie since Billy Williams set the club record with 25 in 1961. Soto's 86 RBI were the most by any Cubs rookie since 1961.

Soto twice earned National League Rookie of the Month honors last season, first collecting the award for April when he batted .333 (29-for-87) with five home runs and 20 RBI, a club rookie RBI record for the calendar month. Soto again earned Rookie of the Month honors in August when he hit .355 (27-for-76) with three home runs, 21 RBI and a .455 on-base percentage.

Soto helped lead the Cubs pitching staff to a 3.87 team ERA, just the third time in the last 15 years the club posted an ERA below 4.00. The Cubs pitching staff last season also set a big league record by leading the majors in strikeouts for the eighth season in a row. Soto was behind the plate when Carlos Zambrano tossed the 13th no-hitter in franchise history on September 14, 2008 vs. Houston in Milwaukee.

In addition to this award from the baseball writers, Soto has already earned 2008 National League Rookie of the Year honors from The Sporting News and the Players Choice Awards.

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