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ABL announces season awards winners
Helms Award to be announced at BADA ceremony
02/08/2012 12:14 AM ET
Perth's Benn Grice was named Reliever of the Year.
Perth's Benn Grice was named Reliever of the Year. (SMP Images/ Theron Kirkman)
SYDNEY, 7 February - The Australian Baseball League has announced the 2011/12 season awards winners. A voting panel consisting of media members as well as team and league officials selected the honourees, who stood out from their peers due to excellent performances throughout the season.

The Helms Award, presented to the league's Most Valuable Player, will be announced at the Baseball Australia Diamond Awards on 25 February. The finalists are Brian Burgamy (Cavalry), Tim Kennelly (Heat), and Warwick Saupold (Heat). Last year's recipient was current Heat and former Bite centre fielder James McOwen.

The winners are:

SAM BAT Silver Slugger (Best Offensive Player)

Brian Burgamy - Canberra "UberGlobal" Cavalry

A 10-year veteran of professional ball in the United States, Burgamy made quite the impression in his first Australian season. He led the league with a record-setting .409 batting average and also had the most hits (67). He was tops on the Cavalry with 12 home runs and 34 RBI. He was the only hitter to win two Player of the Week honours, earning the recognition in Rounds Nine and Eleven. In those two rounds, he played 10 combined games and batted .632 (24-for-38) with seven home runs and 13 RBI.

Pitcher of the Year

Warwick Saupold - 'Alcohol Think Again' Perth Heat

Saupold was the ABL's best and most consistent hurler all season, leading the league in innings pitched (70.0) and posting a record-setting 1.41 ERA. He struck out 53 and allowed just 43 hits and two home runs, while issuing 22 walks. He joined Burgamy as the only players to win two Player of the Week honours, earning the recognition for Rounds Seven and Nine. The right-hander recently signed his first affiliated professional contract with the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball.

Golden Glove (Best Defensive Player)

Allan de San Miguel - 'Alcohol Think Again' Perth Heat

The terrific catcher threw out an incredible 50 per cent of base stealers this season, making it incredibly difficult for opposing offenses to spark a rally. As a veteran of seven minor league seasons and a Team Australia member, de San Miguel provided an experienced defensive presence behind the plate, working with the pitching staff that turned out to be the league's best. Under his guidance, young pitchers like Saupold made significant improvements and have led the Heat to their second consecutive ABL ConocoPhillips Championship Series appearance. He recently signed a contract with MLB's Baltimore Orioles.

Relief Pitcher of the Year

Benn Grice - 'Alcohol Think Again' Perth Heat

Just as they have dominated on the field this season, the Heat dominated in the awards voting. Grice finished second in the ABL with seven saves in 2011/12 and had an ERA of just 0.95, making sure Perth nailed down the win any time they took a lead into the final inning. He surrendered just one home run and struck out 25 in 28.1 innings and also earned three wins.

Rookie of the Year

Aidan Francis - Sydney Blue Sox

Even as a rookie, Francis was an essential part of the Sydney rotation all season, making 10 starts and tossing 54.1 innings. He tied veteran Chris Oxspring for the team lead with four wins. Francis was particularly tough on the road, where he had a 4.11 ERA and struck out 26 batters in 30.2 innings. He was named Pitcher of the Week in Round Five when he struck out eight over eight shutout innings in a win over the Bite. He defeated Adelaide again in Round One of the Postseason with another eight-inning outing.