Vladimir Guerrero wins MVP in his AL debut

Anaheim Angels right fielder Vladimir Guerrero made his first season in the American League a memorable one by winning the Most Valuable Player Award in balloting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Guerrero, 28, was named first on 21 of the 28 ballots submitted by two writers from each AL city, second on five, third on one and fourth on one to total 354 points, based on a tabulation system that rewards 14 points for first place, nine for second, eight for third on down to one for 10th. Guerrero’s best finish in MVP voting in the National League during his six-plus seasons with the Montreal Expos was fourth place in 2002.

Guerrero, who batted .337 with 39 home runs and 126 runs batted in and led the league in runs scored (124) and total bases (366), was a vital factor in the Angels’ winning the AL West by hitting .371 with 10 home runs and 23 RBI in September. He is the second Angels player to win the MVP Award. The other was also an outfielder, Don Baylor, in 1979.

It marked the fourth time in the AL and fifth time overall that a player changed leagues and won the MVP in his first season with his new club. Others to do it in the AL were outfielder Frank Robinson with the Baltimore Orioles in 1966, first baseman Dick Allen with the Chicago White Sox in 1972 and relief pitcher Willie Hernandez with the Detroit Tigers in 1984. The only player to do it in the NL was outfielder Kirk Gibson with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988. The list does not include two AL rookies who won the award, Boston Red Sox center fielder Fred Lynn in 1975 and Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.

New York Yankees right fielder Gary Sheffield (.290, 36 HR, 121 RBI) made almost as triumphant a return to the AL after 12 years in the NL by receiving five first-place votes and totaling 254 points to finish second overall. Sheffield, who was third in the 2003 NL election, spent his first four major-league seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers when they were in the AL before playing in the NL in San Diego, Florida, Los Angeles and Atlanta.

The other first-place vote went to Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez (.308, 43 HR, 130 RBI), who placed third with 238 points. Guerrero, Sheffield and Ramirez were the only players listed on each ballot.

Rounding out the top 10 were Red Sox designated hitter-first baseman David Ortiz (.301, 41 HR, 139 RBI), Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada (.311, 34 HR, 150 RBI), Minnesota Twins pitcher Johan Santana (20-6, 2.61 ERA, 265 K in 228 IP), Suzuki (.372, 262 H, 101 R, 36 SB), Texas Rangers shortstop Michael Young (.313, 22 HR, 99 RBI), Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera (4-2, 1.94 ERA, 53 SV) and Tigers catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez (.334, 19 HR, 86 RBI).
In all, 31 players received votes.

Guerrero is the fourth native of the Dominican Republic elected MVP and the third in the AL, joining Tejada, the 2002 winner when he was with the Oakland Athletics, and Toronto Blue Jays left fielder George Bell in 1987. Chicago Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa won in the NL in 1998.

The vote:

2004 AL MVP

VLADIMIR GUERREROAna. Angels21511354
GARY SHEFFIELDNew York Yankees58942254
MANNY RAMIREZBoston Red Sox114922238
DAVID ORTIZBoston Red Sox159255174
MIGUEL TEJADABaltimore Orioles16272421123
JOHAN SANTANAMinnesota Twins21754221117
ICHIRO SUZUKISeattle Mariners162641698
MICHAEL YOUNGTexas Rangers142244392
MARIANO RIVERANew York Yankees23333559
IVAN RODRIGUEZDetroit Tigers11125236
CURT SCHILLINGBoston Red Sox2214
JOE NATHANMinnesota Twins11112
DEREK JETERNew York Yankees11111
MARK KOTSAYOakland Athletics1118
ALEX RODRIGUEZNew York Yankees218
JOHNNY DAMONBoston Red Sox127
PAUL KONERKOChicago White Sox157
HANK BLALOCKTexas Rangers15
MELVIN MORABaltimore Orioles115
HANK TEIXEIRATexas Rangers125
TORII HUNTERMinnesota Twins14
VICTOR MARTINEZCleveland Indians14
ERUBIEL DURAZOOakland Athletics13
LEW FORDMinnesota Twins12
CARLOS GUILLENDetroit Tigers12
TRAVIS HAFNERCleveland Indians12
HIDEKI MATSUINew York Yankees12
CHONE FIGGINSAnaheim Angels22
ERIC CHAVEZOakland Athletics11