Choice wins Cal League homer crown

Attendance up around circurt in 2011 as San Jose cruises

By California League | September 7, 2011 12:39 PM ET

OXNARD, Calif. -- With the 2011 California League playoffs starting Sept. 7, below are some highlights of the regular season which ended on Labor Day.

The Cal League saw attendance rise in 2011 by 1. percent%. The overall attendance increased from 1,566,501 to 1,593,398. The Lake Elsinore Storm led the League for the second year in a row with 225,769 fans. Eighty percent of the teams in the Cal League saw an increase in attendance and three teams (Modesto Nuts, San Jose Giants, and Visalia Rawhide) set new all time attendance records.

The Giants set a record by winning the First Half Division Title for the seventh consecutive season. They will have a first round bye and await the winner of the Wild Card Series between the second half champions, Modesto Nuts, and Wild Card winner, Stockton Ports. Game one of the Wild Card Series starts tonight in Stockton.

In the South, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes won the First Half Title thanks in part to the Cal League Manager of the Year, Juan Bustabad, and will play either Lake Elsinore or Inland Empire. Both teams finished with an identical 2nd Half record but Lake Elsinore becomes the number two seed based on a better head-to-head record. Game one begins at Inland Empire tonight with Games two and three in Lake Elsinore on Thursday and Friday.

Michael Choice, Stockton Ports outfielder, is the 2011 Verizon Home Run Champion. He edged out Rancho Cucamonga outfielder, Angelo Songco. Choice, a Cal League Post-Season All-Star, finished the season with 30 round-trippers compared to Songco's 29.

Choice hit the decisive home run on the second to last day of the season to take the honors. He is the first ever Cal League Verizon Home Run Champion and will be given a bat commemorating his achievement tonight in Stockton.

A total of 61 former Cal League Players have made their Major League Debut so far this season. The Major League season still has another month and a half to play and already has seen more former Cal Leaguers make their debut than all of last season. 37% of the players to make their debut in the Big Leagues have roots in the Cal League. Lake Elsinore has seen 11 of their players debut in the Major Leagues which leads all Cal League teams. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros infielder, started the 2011 season in Lancaster and has already made an impact at the Big League Level. Brandon Crawford, Eric Surkamp, and Hector Sanchez are three players from the 2010 Cal League Champions, San Jose Giants, to make their debuts this season.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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