Pujols wins third MVP
"I'm just humbled," Pujols said.
Pujols won unanimously Tuesday, becoming the first player to repeat since Bonds won four in a row from 2001-04. Pujols, who also won in 2005, received all 32 first-place votes and 448 points in balloting announced by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He became the first unanimous MVP since Bonds in 2002.
NL MVP Voting
By unanimous vote, Albert Pujols became the first player since Barry Bonds to win back-to-back NL MVP awards. It is Pujols' third MVP award. A breakdown of the voting:
|Albert Pujols, Cardinals||448|
|Hanley Ramirez, Marlins||233|
|Ryan Howard, Phillies||217|
|Prince Fielder, Brewers||203|
|Others receiving votes: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies; Andre Ethier, Dodgers; Pablo Sandoval, Giants; Chase Utley, Phillies; Derrek Lee, Cubs; Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Ryan Braun, Brewers; Adrian Gonzalez, Padres; Todd Helton, Rockies; Chris Carpenter, Cardinals; Adam Wainwright, Cardinals; Matt Holliday, Cardinals; Jayson Werth, Phillies; Shane Victorino, Phillies; Tim Lincecum, Giants; Yunel Escobar, Braves; Mark Reynolds, D-backs; Joey Votto, Reds; Yadier Molina, Cardinals; Miguel Tejada, Astros; Huston Street, Rockies; Justin Upton, D-backs; Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals; Jeremy Affeldt, Giants; Chris Coghlan, Marlins; Brad Hawpe, Rockies.|
A big part of the Cardinals' success this year was the acquisition of Matt Holliday in July. Holliday, who hit cleanup behind Pujols, helped St. Louis win the NL Central and then became a free agent.
"The whole city of St. Louis wants Matt back and myself, obviously," Pujols said. "He came at the right time, right when we needed it, right when we were struggling a little bit."
While the Cardinals have five division titles and six playoff appearances in nine seasons since Pujols joined the team, they have won the World Series only once, in 2006.
"I always make a joke. I got 10 fingers. I want to get nine more rings," he said. "I want to get as many as Derek Jeter has so far [five]. Obviously that's hard to do."
Pujols does have one individual goal -- the Hall of Fame.
"Obviously, there is still a long way to go," he said.
Pujols led the majors in homers (47), runs (124), slugging percentage (.658) and intentional walks (44), and topped the NL in on-base percentage (.443). He was second in the league in doubles (45) and third in batting average (.327) and RBIs (135).
He was especially dangerous with the bases loaded, going 10 for 17 with five grand slams, three doubles and 35 RBIs.
"I think it was the most consistent year," he said. "I was pretty much hot April until almost September."
Florida's Hanley Ramirez, the NL batting champion, was second with 233 points, followed by Philadelphia's Ryan Howard (217) and Milwaukee's Prince Fielder (203), who tied Howard for the big league lead in RBIs at 141.
Pujols didn't homer in his final 89 regular and postseason at-bats after Sept. 9, then had surgery Oct. 21 to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. He had feared he might need ligament replacement, which probably would have forced him to miss the first half of next season.
"My elbow was fine," Pujols said. "I don't put that as an excuse. I was still playing every day out there."
Pujols, who turns 30 in January, joined Hall of Famer Al Simmons (11) as the only players with 100 or more RBIs in each of their first nine seasons. Pujols also set a big league record for assists by a first baseman with 185.
Pujols became the fourth player to win the NL MVP three times. Bonds won seven in the 1990s and 2000s. Stan Musial (1940s), Roy Campanella (1950s) and Mike Schmidt (1980s) each won three.
Five players have won three AL MVPs: Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and Alex Rodriguez.
In addition to Pujols and Bonds, the only unanimous NL winners were Orlando Cepeda (1967), Schmidt (1980), Jeff Bagwell (1994) and Ken Caminiti (1996). Unanimous AL winners have been Hank Greenberg (1935), Al Rosen (1953), Mantle (1956), Frank Robinson (1966), Denny McLain (1968), Reggie Jackson (1973), Jose Canseco (1988), Frank Thomas (1993) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1997).
St. Louis players have won 17 MVPs, second in the majors behind 20 for the Yankees. Pujols has been voted among the top 10 in nine consecutive years, finishing second in 2002, 2003 and 2006; third in 2004; fourth in 2001; and ninth in 2007.
Pujols receives a $200,000 bonus for winning the award. He is signed for next season at $16 million, and the Cardinals hold a $16 million option for 2011, so the sides might soon turn their attention to a contract extension.
"We don't want this to drag into the 11th hour, but nothing's imminent," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said in St. Louis. "I don't think anybody could envision what he's accomplished, on and off the field."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
MORE MLB HEADLINES
- Baseball Hall cuts election eligibility to 10 years
- Red Sox deal Peavy to Giants for prospects
- Cardinals sign Pierzynski, play him Saturday
- Lester: I'd re-sign with Sox even if traded
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
2009 AWARD WINNERS/SCHEDULE
NL GOLD GLOVES
|• Rollins wins third straight Gold Glove|
|C -- Yadier Molina, St. Louis (2nd)|
|1B -- Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego (2nd)|
|2B -- Orlando Hudson, LA Dodgers (4th)|
|SS -- Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia (3rd)|
|3B -- Ryan Zimmerman, Washington (1st)|
|OF -- Michael Bourn, Houston (1st)|
|OF -- Matt Kemp, LA Dodgers (1st)|
|OF -- Shane Victorino, Philadelphia (2nd)|
|P -- Adam Wainwright, St. Louis (1st)|
AL GOLD GLOVES
|• Hunter, Ichiro earn ninth Gold Gloves|
|C -- Joe Mauer, Minnesota (2nd)|
|1B -- Mark Teixeira, NY Yankees (3rd)|
|2B -- Placido Polanco, Detroit (2nd)|
|SS -- Derek Jeter, NY Yankees (4th)|
|3B -- Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay (1st)|
|OF -- Torii Hunter, LA Angels (9th)|
|OF -- Adam Jones, Baltimore (1st)|
|OF -- Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle (9th)|
|P -- Mark Buehrle, Chicago (1st)|
|MON., NOV. 16 -- NL/AL Rookie of the Year
• NL: Chris Coghlan, OF, FLA | ESPN's pick
• AL: Andrew Bailey, RHP, OAK | ESPN's pick
|TUES., NOV. 17 -- AL Cy Young
• Zack Greinke, RHP, KAN | ESPN's pick
|WED., NOV. 18 -- NL/AL Manager of the Year
• NL: Jim Tracy, COL | ESPN's pick
• AL: Mike Scioscia, LAA | ESPN's pick
|THURS., NOV. 19 -- NL Cy Young
• Tim Lincecum, RHP, SFO | ESPN's pick
|MON., NOV. 23 -- AL MVP
• Joe Mauer, C, MIN | ESPN's pick
|TUES., NOV. 24 -- NL MVP
• Albert Pujols, 1B, STL | ESPN's pick