ST. PETERSBURG -- For the second time in three years, David Price has captured Players Choice American League Outstanding Pitcher honors.
Price will add his 2012 award to the one he claimed in 2010, with both coming following his two best seasons in the Major Leagues.
The Players Choice Awards are the only annual baseball awards voted on exclusively by the players.
"It feels good to have the opposing players, your teammates, opposing coaches, guys you're batting against every five days, to gain the respect of those guys to get their vote for the most valuable pitcher of the year," Price said on MLB Network after being announced as the winner. "It's very special to me. It's very special to the Rays and it's something I cherish every time I can win this award."
Price's teammate and fellow starter James Shields said Price's work ethic has been the most impressive part of what he does.
"A lot of people have really good years, but Price is the type of pitcher who is going to have good years for many years to come, just because of his work ethic," Shields said. "He has this competitive nature to him. He wants to outwork everybody. He wants to pitch better than everybody and he's shown that."
Price went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA this season, leading the AL in wins and ERA while compiling 211 innings, surpassing the 200-inning mark for the third consecutive season. In doing so, Price averaged almost seven innings per start. He failed to pitch at least five innings in only two starts this season.
Price went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA when he won the award in 2010, before falling to 12-13 with a 3.49 ERA in 2011. Shields said Price is now a different pitcher than he was in 2010.
"I think he was more of a thrower that year, than a pitcher," Shields said. "And even though he had good numbers that year, I think that this year he was a much better pitcher, as far as being a pitcher and knowing how to pitch, and knowing himself as a pitcher."
Price agreed with Shields that he is more refined as a pitcher than he was in 2010.
"I can't wait for next year," Price said. "The last three games [of the season] I kind of figured out some things with my off-speed. So next year I'll be a different pitcher than I was this year. I feel like it will be for the best."
Given Price's competitive nature, that outlook wasn't surprising.
"That's one of the things that he does," Shields said. "He wants to get better and better. I think there's things that all good competitors have. And it's kind of being a perfectionist. And it's not always being satisfied with what he's done. He always wants to get better at his craft, and he's done that."
Players Choice Awards have been presented annually since 1992, when Major Leaguers selected Dennis Eckersley and Barry Bonds as the AL and NL Outstanding Players, respectively. Today, the players annually honor the outstanding player, rookie, pitcher and comeback player in each league, while the Player of the Year and Man of the Year awards bestow top honors without regard to league.
Balloting for the 2012 Players Choice Awards was conducted in mid-September under the supervision of accounting firm KPMG.
The 2012 Players Choice Award winners in all categories will designate charities to receive grants totaling $260,000 from the Major League Baseball Players Trust, the charitable foundation created and run by the players themselves.
The Players Trust raises funds and attention for issues affecting the needy and promotes community involvement. Since 1992, the Players Trust has recognized the outstanding on-field and off-field performances of Players Choice Awards winners by contributing more than $3 million to charities around the world. For additional information, please visit www.MLBPLAYERS.com or visit the Players Trust channel on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/MLBPlayersTrust.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.