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Willingham, Gio tabbed top A's by MLB.com

Willingham, Gio tabbed top A's by MLB.com

Willingham, Gio tabbed top A's by MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Though Josh Willingham's stay in Oakland isn't likely to extend past the one-year mark, there's no denying the contributions he made both on and off the field during that time.

Willingham has been selected as MLB.com's Athletics Player of the Year. He handled the large confines of Oakland Coliseum just fine, tallying 15 home runs at home and 29 overall to go along with a team-leading 98 RBIs -- most by an A's player since Frank Thomas posted 114 in 2006.

As selected by MLB.com, awards have been designated in three categories -- Pitcher, Perfomer and Breakout Player -- for each of the 30 teams. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez and rookie Jemile Weeks also were honored.

Outside the Coliseum, Willingham and his wife, Ginger, utilized the Josh Willingham Foundation to focus their efforts on assisting local victims of the April tornadoes near their home in Alabama.

Team Awards 2011

For that work, Willingham was named the A's nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award and, ultimately, the recipient of the Dave Stewart Community Service Award and the Jim "Catfish" Hunter Award, which for the past seven years has recognized the club's most inspirational player.

"Usually you just get a perspective on a guy on the field, and your interviews with him pertain a lot more to baseball, but obviously there's a lot more with this guy that meets the eye than just baseball-wise," A's manager Bob Melvin said this season.

In his first season at the helm, Melvin was also greeted by an inspirational cast of youngsters, among them Weeks -- named MLB.com's Athletics Breakout Player of the Year.

Weeks, who is also a nominee for American League Rookie of the Year and the annual Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Award for top rookie, christened his first season in the big leagues in fine fashion, pacing the A's in triples (eight), multi-hit games (35) and games of three hits or more (14).

Moreover, his team-leading .303 average ranked best among AL rookies with at least 400 plate appearances. The second baseman also tied for second among that same pack with 22 stolen bases and ranked third in hits (123) and doubles (26) in 97 games.

On the mound, Gonzalez's All-Star campaign earned him the nod as MLB.com's Athletics Pitcher of the Year -- an honor that follows a 2011 season that watched the lefty go 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA and 197 strikeouts in a career-high 202 innings.

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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