Albert Pujols wins 2nd NL MVP Award

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, who had a remarkably productive season despite playing with a painful right elbow that required off-season surgery, was voted the National League Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career in balloting by the BBWAA.

Pujols, who previously won the award in 2005, was the only player whose name appeared on all 32 ballots submitted by two writers in each league city. He was listed first on 18 ballots, second on 10, third on two, fourth on one and seventh on one for a total of 369 points, based on the tabulation system that rewards 14 points for first place, nine for second, eight for third and on down to one for 10th.

The runner-up in the NL batting race with a .357 average, Pujols drove in 116 runs and hit 37 home runs while also setting career highs in walks (104) and on-base percentage (.462). He struck out only 54 times in 633 plate appearances, and his .653 slugging percentage was more than 50 points higher than any player in the majors.

Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, the major league leader in home runs (46) and RBI (146), had 12 first-place votes and finished second with 308 points. Howard was the 2006 winner. The other two first-place votes went to Howard’s teammate, relief pitcher Brad Lidge, who placed eighth overall with 104 points. Lidge was 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA and converted all 41 of his save opportunities.

Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun (.285, 37 HR, 106 RBI), the NL winner of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award last year, was third in the voting with 139 points, one more than Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez, who batted .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBI in 53 games after being traded from the Boston Red Sox.

Another player traded from an American League team, Brewers pitcher CC Sabathia, was sixth in the voting with 121 points. The lefthander, acquired from the Cleveland Indians in early July, was 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and a league-best seven complete games in 17 starts.

Also finishing in the top 10 were Houston Astros first baseman Lance Berkman (.312, 29 HR, 106 RBI, 114 R), New York Mets third baseman David Wright (.302, 33 HR, 124 RBI, 115 R), Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado (.271, 38 HR, 115 RBI) and Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez (.289, 27 HR, 111 RBI). In all, 27 players received votes.

This was the eighth consecutive top-10 finish in MVP voting for Pujols, who in addition to winning in 2005 also finished second in 2002, 2003 and 2006, third in 2004, fourth in 2001 (his rookie year) and ninth in 2007.

Pujols, 28, became the 25th multiple winner of the award. Barry Bonds is the all-time record holder with seven MVP Awards. Eight players won three times, and Pujols is the 16th two-time winner. Pujols is also only the fifth former Rookie of the Year Award winner to go on to win two MVPs, joining fellow National Leaguers Willie Mays and Johnny Bench, American Leaguer Cal Ripken Jr. and Frank Robinson, the only player to win the MVP Award in both leagues.

It marked the 16th time a Cardinals player has been honored. St. Louis’ total of MVP winners is the most in the NL and second only to the New York Yankees’ 20 in the AL. Stan Musial was a three-time MVP for the Cardinals, as an outfielder in 1943 and 1948 and as a first baseman in 1946. Other Cardinals winners were second baseman Frankie Frisch in 1931, pitcher Dizzy Dean in 1934, left fielder Joe Medwick in 1937, pitcher Mort Cooper in 1942, shortstop Marty Marion in 1944, third baseman Ken Boyer in 1964, first baseman Orlando Cepeda in 1967, pitcher Bob Gibson in 1968, third baseman Joe Torre in 1971, first baseman Keith Hernandez (co-winner with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Willie Stargell) in 1979 and center fielder Willie McGee in 1985.

Pujols’ victory was the 13th for a first baseman in the NL, a list that includes Musial, Cepeda, Stargell Hernandez and Howard as well as Frank McCormick, Dolph Camilli, Phil Cavarretta, Willie McCovey, Steve Garvey and Jeff Bagwell. The AL MVP Award has been won by a first baseman 15 times. No other position has had as many MVP winners. Right fielders are next with 22, 11 in each league.

2008 NL MVP

Albert Pujols, St. Louis1810211369
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia12861121308
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee235522321139
Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles24723212138
Lance Berkman, Houston244133411126
CC Sabathia, Milwaukee45122312121
David Wright, New York214332521115
Brad Lidge, Philadelphia22432312104
Carlos Delgado, New York51252396
Aramis Ramirez, Chicago241143166
Hanley Ramirez, Florida222122555
Chipper Jones, Atlanta12412244
Geovanny Soto, Chicago313141
Johan Santana, New York11112130
Chase Utley, Philadelphia11113230
Ryan Ludwick, St. Louis123117
Brandon Webb, Arizona2114
Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego111413
Matt Holliday, Colorado111113
Prince Fielder, Milwaukee111111
Derrek Lee, Chicago1110
Carlos Beltran, New York11110
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco1129
Jose Reyes, New York13
Jose Valverde, Houston13
Stephen Drew, Arizona12
Nate McClouth, Pittsburgh11