Vote for Pepsi Clutch Performer in June

Vote for Pepsi Clutch Performer in June

Chone Figgins, Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Ichiro Suzuki, Troy Tulowitzki and Justin Verlander are your six voting candidates in's monthly presentation of a brand-new award that is being decided by fans everywhere: the Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Month Presented by Pepsi.

Vote now, and as a bonus you will be automatically entered in the Pepsi Clutch Performer Sweepstakes. The grand prize is an MLB.TV Premium subscription, a $250 gift card and four tickets to one 2007 regular-season home game of the MLB team of your choosing. Two first prizes each include a $150 gift card and two tickets to a 2007 regular-season home game of your choice. Four second prizes each include an authentic Major League Baseball jersey.

It marks the third consecutive month in which A-Rod has been nominated for the Pepsi Clutch Performer of the Month distinction, which speaks volumes about his monster season so far. The Yankees third baseman was the fans' choice for April, and Ken Griffey Jr. of the Reds was chosen in May. They and any other nominees are listed for various reasons that all fall under the auspices of "clutch" -- whether it's a proclivity for walk-off shots, picking up a pitching staff or somehow lifting a team with a mighty presence -- or use your own definition to determine what "clutch" means in this award.

At the conclusion of the regular season, fans will have the opportunity to vote on the "Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Year Presented by Pepsi" award winner from among six finalists selected by the special editorial panel. Fans also will be able to enter for a chance to win a trip to the 2008 All-Star Game. The "Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Year Presented by Pepsi" award will be presented during the coming postseason -- the newest honor in the official MLB awards lineup.

Here is a closer look at the choices for June:

Chone Figgins: The diminutive utilityman was a huge reason for the Angels' winning ways in June. Putting paltry May production behind him, he batted .461, with a .496 on-base percentage and .574 slugging percentage. He also led the Majors with 14 steals in June, including three swipes in a comeback victory at St. Louis on June 8. He went absolutely ballistic on June 18 against the Cardinals by going 6-for-6 with a go-ahead RBI in the second, a game-tying RBI infield single in the seventh and a walk-off RBI triple in the ninth. All in all, he finished a homer short of the cycle in a 10-9 victory.

Alex Rodriguez: It was just another month for A-Rod, who led the Majors with 34 RBIs in June. He also put up your basic 1.281 OPS, knocking out nine homers and batting .406. On June 3 at division-rival Boston, he had two RBIs, including a dramatic game-winning solo homer in the ninth inning. On June 23, he launched a game-tying, ninth-inning homer in a 6-5 loss at San Francisco. On June 10 against the Pirates, he hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the fourth inning, followed by a two-run homer in his ensuing at-bat. It was another big month in a half that fans deemed worthy of more All-Star votes than any other player in 2007.

C.C. Sabathia: The Indians left-hander defined the term "ace" in June, leading the Majors with 41 1/3 innings and throwing eight or more innings in three starts. He notched back-to-back complete games against the Royals on June 5 and the Reds on June 10. Both of his victories came after Indians losses. If you thought Sabathia was good in May with that 5-1 record and 4.21 ERA, then consider his 4-1 record and 2.23 mark in June.

Ichiro Suzuki: So typical for Ichiro, the Mariners center fielder batted .427 with 47 hits, 18 runs and nine steals. And behind him, the Mariners were very much in the running in the American League West. On June 4 and 5, he had back-to-back game-winning RBI doubles in 7-4 and 5-4 victories, respectively, against the Orioles. He also homered on June 4. Ichiro played a pivotal part in an Interleague series sweep at San Diego. On June 10, his game-tying two-run single in the seventh helped cap a 4-3 victory. One day earlier against the Padres, he sparked a 6-5 come-from-behind triumph in the seventh with a two-run double. Ichiro also had a game-tying RBI single in a 9-8 loss to the Rangers. Fans were following it closely, giving him the nod as a starting outfielder for another All-Star Game.

Troy Tulowitzki: Living up to his advance billing -- remember those universal Rookie of the Year predictions last spring? -- the Rockies shortstop showed poise beyond his years in June with seven RBIs close and late. In a 7-6 victory over the Astros on June 7, "Tulo" capped a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off single, after already ripping a two-run homer in the sixth to bring the Rockies within two runs. He played a pivotal part in the final game of a sweep against the Yanks. On June 21, he went 3-for-4 with a game-tying homer. On June 25, he cranked a huge go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth to give the Rockies a 9-8 lead over the Cubs, albeit in a losing effort.

Justin Verlander: No-hitter. That's what stood out the most for the Tigers' young right-hander. On June 12 against first-place Milwaukee, he hurled the sixth no-hitter in the 107-year history of the Tigers, the first by a Tigers pitcher in front of the home fans since Virgil Trucks in 1952. It was a dominant performance for Verlander, who struck out a career-high 12 and allowed just three balls in play out of the infield in a 4-0 win. His fastball reached 101 mph in the ninth, and he mentioned 103 in later recollection. The 2006 American League Rookie of the Year won his first four starts in June with a 1.24 ERA, fanning 11 Braves batters on June 23. It was his second straight 4-1 month, this time with a 2.65 ERA.

The Comeback Player of the Year Award is one of two new MLB-sanctioned, Pepsi-sponsored awards as part of an ongoing multiplatform marketing campaign involving Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and Pepsi, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary as the Official Soft Drink of Major League Baseball.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.