Cardinals’ Albert Pujols wins MVP again

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was a unanimous choice in winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award for the second consecutive season and the third time in his career.

Pujols was listed first on all 32 ballots submitted by two writers in each league city to score a perfect total of 448 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.

He became the sixth NL player to win the award by a unanimous vote, joining Orlando Cepeda (1967), Mike Schmidt (1980), Jeff Bagwell (1994), Ken Caminiti (1996) and Barry Bonds (2002). There have been nine unanimous winners in the American League – Hank Greenberg (1935), Al Rosen (1953), Mickey Mantle (1956), Frank Robinson (1966), Denny McLain (1968), Reggie Jackson (1973), Jose Canseco (1988), Frank Thomas (1993) and Ken Griffey, Jr. (1997).

Pujols, 29, led the league in home runs (47) for the first time in his career and was third in batting (.327) and runs batted in (135). He also topped the NL in runs (124), total bases (374), grand slams (5), extra base hits (93), on-base percentage (.443) and slugging percentage (.658). For the eighth straight year he totaled more walks (115) than strikeouts (64).

Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who won the batting title (.342) and had 24 home runs and 106 RBI, was second in the voting with 233 points. First basemen Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies and Price Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers, who tied for the league lead in RBI with 141 apiece, finished third and fourth, respectively. Howard (.279, 45 HR, 108 R) totaled 217 points and Fielder (.299, 46 HR, 110 BB) 203. In all, 30 players received votes, but only Pujols, Ramirez and Fielder were on every ballot.

Also finishing in the top 10 were Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (.297, 32 HR, 92 RBI, 101 R, 20 SB), Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier (.272, 31 HR, 106 RBI, 112 R, 23 SB), San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (.330, 25 HR, 90 RBI), Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (.282, 31 HR, 93 RBI, 103 R), Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee (.306, 35 HR, 111 RBI) and Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp (.287, 26 HR, 101 RBI, 34 SB).

This was the ninth consecutive top-10 finish in MVP voting for Pujols, who in addition to winning in 2005 and 2008 also finished second in 2002, 2003 and 2006, third in 2004, fourth in 2001 (his rookie year) and ninth in 2007.

Pujols became the 10th player to win the award three or more times and the first former Rookie of the Year Award winner to be a three-time MVP. Bonds is the record holder with seven MVP Awards (1990, ’92-93, 2001-04). The other eight three-time winners were Stan Musial (1943, ’46, ’48), Roy Campanella (1951, ’53, ’55) and Mike Schmidt (1980-81, 1980-81, ’86) in the NL and Mantle (1956-57, ’62), Jimmie Foxx (1932-33, ’38), Joe DiMaggio (1939, ’41, ’47), Yogi Berra (1951, ’54-55) and Alex Rodriguez (2003, ’05, ’07) in the AL.

The back-to-back victory by Pujols places him among six NL players and six in the AL to have won in successive seasons, led by Bonds, who won four years in a row from 2001-04 and also in 1992-93. Other NL repeaters were Schmidt (1980-81), Ernie Banks (1958-59), Joe Morgan (1975-76) and Dale Murphy (1982-83). Repeat winners in the AL were Foxx (1932-33), Berra (1954-55), Mantle (1956-57), Thomas (1993-94), Hal Newhouser (1944-45) and Roger Maris (1960-61).

It marked the 17th 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. Musial won as an outfielder in 1943 and 1948 and as a first baseman in 1946. Other Cardinals winners were Cepeda in 1967, 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, 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 14th for a first baseman in the NL, a list that includes Musial, Cepeda, Stargell, Hernandez, Bagwell and Howard as well as Frank McCormick, Dolph Camilli, Phil Cavarretta, Willie McCovey and Steve Garvey. 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.

The voting:

2009 NL MVP

Albert Pujols, Cardinals32448
Hanley Ramirez, Marlins15533231233
Ryan Howard, Phillies6875131217
Prince Fielder, Brewers59731313203
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies3655511172
Andre Ethier, Dodgers2325453113
Pablo Sandoval, Giants125561489
Chase Utley, Phillies221543184
Derrek Lee, Cubs13322566
Matt Kemp, Dodgers212311249
Ryan Braun, Brewers3124643
Adrian Gonzalez, Padres1132530
Todd Helton, Rockies1111228
Chris Carpenter, Cardinals1212125
Adam Wainwright, Cards121216
Matt Holliday,Cardinals11215
Jayson Werth, Phillies1110
Shane Victorino, Phillies28
Tim Lincecum, Giants1128
Yunel Escobar, Braves16
Mark Reynolds, D-backs1116
Joey Votto, Reds14
Yadier Molina, Cardinals13
Miguel Tejada, Astros13
Huston Street, Rockies12
Justin Upton, D-backs12
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals22
Jeremy Affeldt, Giants11
Chris Coghlan, Marlins11
Brad Hawpe, Rockies11