Reds’ Joey Votto runs away with NL MVP Award

Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto, who helped the Reds win the National League Central title for their first post-season berth in 15 years, was an overwhelming choice as the NL Most Valuable Player in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Of the 32 ballots submitted by two writers from each league city, Votto was listed first on 31 and second on the other to score 443 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.

Votto, 27, finished in the top three in all the Triple Crown categories with a .324 batting average (second), 37 home runs (third) and 113 runs batted in (third) and led the league in on-base percentage (.424), slugging (.600) and OPS (1.024). The Toronto native became the second Canadian-born player to win the award, joining British Columbia’s Larry Walker, the 1997 winner with the Colorado Rockies.

The other first-place vote went to St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, who was second on 21 ballots, third on eight, fourth on one and sixth on one for a total of 279 points. A three-time winner who had won each of the previous two seasons, Pujols led the league in home runs (42), RBI (118), runs (115) and extra-base hits (82) while batting .312, which ranked sixth.

Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, another Triple Crown threat, finished third in the voting with 240 points. Gonzalez won the batting title with a .336 average, was second in RBI (117) and fourth in home runs (34). He also led the league in hits (197), total bases (351) and grand slams (3) and was third in runs (111).

Votto, Pujols and Gonzalez were the only players on every ballot. In all, 27 players gained mention.

San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (.298, 31 HR, 101 RBI), who led the NL in hitting with runners in scoring position (.407), was fourth with 197 points. Rounding out the top 10 were Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (.315, 27 HR, 95 RBI), Philadelphia Phillies pitcher and NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay (21-10, 2.44 ERA), San Francisco Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff (.290, 26 HR, 86 RBI, 100 R), Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth (.296, 27 HR, 85 RBI), Atlanta Braves infielder Martin Prado (.307, 15 HR, 66 RBI, 100 R) and Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (.276, 31 HR, 108 RBI).

It marked the 12th time a Reds player has been honored, which tied the Giants for second place among NL winners. The Cardinals have the most in the NL with 17, second only to the New York Yankees’ 20 in the American League.

Previous MVPs for Cincinnati include two-time winners Johnny Bench (1970, ‘72) and Joe Morgan (1975-76) as well as Ernie Lombardi (1938), Bucky Walters (1939), Frank McCormick (1940), Frank Robinson (1961), Pete Rose (1973), George Foster (1977) and Barry Larkin (1995).

This was the 10th consecutive top-10 finish in MVP voting for Pujols, who in addition to winning in 2005, ’08-09 also finished second in 2002-03 and ‘06, third in ‘04, fourth in ‘01 (his rookie year) and ninth in ‘07.

Pujols’ three victories and four runner-up finishes equals that of another Cardinals great, Stan Musial, the winner in 1943, ‘46 and ‘48 and the second-place finisher in 1949, ’50-51 and ‘57. Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle finished first or second six times each in the AL. Williams won in 1946 and ‘49 and was second in 1941-42, ‘47 and ‘57. Mantle won in 1956-57 and ‘62 and was second in 1960-61 and ‘64.

The only other player in either league with more first- and second-place finishes in MVP balloting was Barry Bonds, a seven-time winner in the NL (1990, ’92-93, 2001-04) and runner-up in 1991 and 2000.

Votto’s victory was the 15th for a first baseman in the NL, a list that includes Pujols’ three, one of Musial’s three as well as one each for Howard, McCormick, Dolph Camilli, Phil Cavarretta, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Steve Garvey, Willie Stargell, Keith Hernandez and Jeff Bagwell.

The AL MVP Award has also 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.

2010 NL MVP

 1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th10thPoints
Joey Votto, Cincinnati311443
Albert Pujols, St. Louis121811279
Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado7135421240
Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego1315821197
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado2178432132
Roy Halladay, Philadelphia13435253130
Aubrey Huff, San Francisco322314470
Jayson Werth, Philadelphia33132252
Martin Prado, Atlanta11445251
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia11122150
Buster Posey, San Francisco111124140
Matt Holliday, St. Louis141432
Brian Wilson, San Francisco1221228
Scott Rolen, Cincinnati1133226
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee1211119
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington212318
Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia11112
Dan Uggla, Florida111212
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis12112
Jason Heyward, Atlanta21111
Brian McCann, Atlanta1119
Adam Dunn, Washington1139
Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado17
David Wright, New York13
Corey Hart, Milwaukee12
Josh Johnson, Florida12
Heath Bell, San Diego22