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Braun edges Tulowitzki by two votes; Pedroia wins in landslide

NEW YORK -- Dustin Pedroia won in a runaway, just like his
Red Sox in the World Series.

The little Boston second baseman with the big swing was an easy
pick for AL Rookie of the Year, while Ryan Braun barely edged
Troy Tulowitzki for the NL honor Monday.

Generously listed at 5-foot-9, Pedroia became a fan favorite at
Fenway Park with his all-out style. Plus, few knew he played with a
broken bone in his left wrist down the stretch.

"Everyone doubted me at every level I've been to, saying I'm
too small, I'm not fast enough, my arm's not strong enough,"
Pedroia said. "There's a lot of people that have stuck by me and
knew deep down in, that there's something about me that makes me a
winning baseball player."

Pedroia hit .317 with eight home runs and 50 RBIs. He got 24 of
the 28 first-place votes to outdistance Tampa Bay outfielder
Delmon Young in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Braun's brawn earned him the NL award. The slugging third
baseman from Milwaukee finished two points ahead of Tulowitzki,
Colorado's sparkplug shortstop.

Braun said he had trouble sleeping Sunday night, then woke up
early at his condo in Santa Monica, Calif., and went for a jog to
ease his "nervous energy."

"I had no idea what the vote would be based on," he said. "I
knew that it would be a close vote."

Braun received 17 of 32 first-place votes and finished with 128
points. Tulowitzki got 15 first-place votes and 126 points. Ballots
were completed by the end of the regular season, before Pedroia and
Tulowitzki met in the World Series.

"To show you how good Ryan was, in any other year Troy
Tulowitzki would have won hands down," Brewers general manager
Doug Melvin said.

Called up from Triple-A in late May, Braun hit .324 with 34 home
runs and 97 RBIs. The Brewers led the majors in homers this season
and stayed in contention for the NL Central championship until the
final week.

Braun's .634 slugging percentage led NL players and was the
highest by a rookie in major league history. He did not have enough
plate appearances, however, to qualify for the title.

His big offensive numbers were enough to overcome 26 errors,
tied for most in the majors with Minnesota shortstop
Jason Bartlett.

"Everybody has things they need to work on," Braun said on a
conference call.

Braun showed off his power in the Brewers' exhibition opener,
hitting a grand slam and a three-run homer. He also made a wild
throw in that game.

Tulowitzki led big league shortstops in fielding percentage, got
to many more balls than anyone at his position and turned an
unassisted triple play.

He also set an NL rookie record for home runs by a shortstop
(24) and batted .291 with 99 RBIs as the Rockies surged to the NL
pennant. Colorado won 14 of 15 to take the wild-card spot --
Tulowitzki had four hits in a one-game tiebreaker for the slot,
including a key double off Trevor Hoffman.

The crowds at Coors Field began a rhythmic chant for Tulowitzki,
and the 6-foot-3 shortstop was in the middle of the Rockies'
playoff push. Colorado set a big league record for fielding
percentage.

Tulowitzki was on vacation this week and the Rockies did not
make him available for comment.

There was a tie for the NL rookie award in 1976 between San
Diego's Butch Metzger and Cincinnati's Pat Zachry, though the
voting format was different then. Last year, Florida shortstop
Hanley Ramirez beat out Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman by
four points.

Braun, who turns 24 this Saturday, became the second Brewers
player to win Rookie of the Year. Pat Listach won in 1992 when
Milwaukee was in the American League.

Houston outfielder Hunter Pence was third this year and Arizona
outfielder Chris Young was fourth.

Pedroia will have to hold his award with his right hand -- his
left hand is in a soft cast. A test in early September revealed a
crack in his wrist, and he played through the pain until having surgery last
week.

"I don't really know when it happened," he said on a
conference call from his home in Chandler, Ariz.

Pedroia excelled in October. He sparked Boston's comeback from a
3-1 deficit in the AL Championship Series, homering and driving in
five runs to beat Cleveland in Game 7. Pedroia then led off the
World Series opener with a home run, sending the Red Sox toward
their sweep of the Rockies.

A month into the season, Pedroia was hitting just .172 with no
home runs and only two RBIs. His slump was so severe that some Red
Sox fans were calling for Alex Cora to take over the starting spot.

"The first month was definitely tough on me," Pedroia said.
"I don't think a player is made over one month."

Encouraged by Cora and future World Series MVP Mike Lowell to
stick with it, the 24-year-old Pedroia perked up in May. His diving
stop on a grounder by Miguel Tejada helped preserve Clay Buchholz's
no-hitter in September.

Pedroia became the sixth Red Sox player to win the AL award and
first since Nomar Garciaparra in 1997.

Delmon Young was next with three first-place votes and 56
points, and Kansas City pitcher Brian Bannister received the other
first-place vote. Boston pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka finished fourth
in the AL voting, followed by Angels outfielder Reggie Willits and
Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima.

The AL Cy Young Award will be announced Tuesday. Boston's Josh Beckett and Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia are considered favorites.