In an Oscar ceremony-like atmosphere, where star players walked down a red-carpeted aisle before being interviewed by the media, the 2004 Chinese Professional Baseball League's annual awards ceremony was held at the Taipei County Government Complex on Wednesday evening.
Hosted by league commissioner Chen Ho-tung, the annual gala was attended by the Minister of the National Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Chen Chuan-sho (陳全壽), Taipei County Assistant County Magistrate Wu Sang-bao (吳參寶), corporate sponsors, team executives, coaches and the players.
For the second time in his career, President Lions' Michael Garcia walked away with the coveted Most Valuable Player honor. The league's career leader in saves was recognized for his exceptional presence on the mound, especially when the game is tight and the pressure is high. Garcia's near-automatic ability for converting a lead into a Lions win essentially shortened the games for the Lions; as long as they could take a lead heading into the seventh, it was as good as a win.
For the second straight year, Sinon Bulls slugger Chang "Prince of the Forest" Tai-shan took home four trophies for his monstrous year on the field. The 28-year-old defending home-run champion successfully defended his title by beating the Brother Elephants' Peng "Chia Chia" Cheng-ming (
Rounding out the hardware list for Chang on the night were the Louisville Silver Slugger Trophy for the top offensive player of the year, and the Top Third Baseman honor for the best player in each position.
Despite losing to Chang in the home-run and RBI race, crowd favorite Peng Cheng-ming made it to the winner's podium three times for his unbelievable year from the batter's box with a .376 batting average to claim this year's batting title, 127 hits (most in the league), and the Top Outfielder honor.
La New Bears' second baseman Shih Chih-wei (
The Most Improved Player honor went to Macoto Cobras' pitcher Lee Ming-jing (
Finishing the offensive categories was stolen-base king Cheng Jau-han of the Bulls for his 31 stolen bases in a down year, compared to defending champ Huang Kang-lin's (
Cobras' lefty ace Lin Ying-jeh broke up a pitchers' award list that had been dominated by foreigners over the years. His 203 strikeouts and 1.733 earned-run average (ERA) made him one of the most feared hurlers among the hitters in the league. Lin just missed a chance for a pitcher's triple-crown (most wins, strikeouts, and lowest ERA) by three victories as his 14 wins trailed eventual winner Jonathan Hurst of the Elephants. It was the third time in four years that the American veteran had racked up 16 or more wins for his team.
The top-ranked players by position were Cobras pitcher Lin Ying-jeh, Bears catcher Chen Fong-ming, Cobras first baseman Hsieh Jia-shien, Bears second baseman Huang Chung-yi, Bulls third baseman Chang tai-shan, Lions shortstop Yang Seng (陽森), Elephants outfielders Chen Chih-yuan and Peng Cheng-ming, Whales outfielder Chi Jung-lin (紀俊麟), and Lions designated hitter Luo Ming-ching.