Yankees' Rodriguez fields 2nd AL MVP, edging DH Ortiz

Defense may have been factor in voting

Baseball

November 15, 2005|By DAN CONNOLLY | DAN CONNOLLY,SUN REPORTER

In the end, baseball's most handsomely paid player helped his team in all facets while his closest competitor for baseball's most coveted award only swung a bat.

That seemingly was the difference in this year's American League Most Valuable Player voting as New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez edged Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz.

"I have been in a lot of these races, and a lot of them I have come in second and third place," said Rodriguez, who has won AL MVP twice in three years. "I thought David had as good of a chance as I did. Defense was probably the determining factor."

Rodriguez, who received 16 of 28 possible first-place votes, finished with 331 points, 24 ahead of Ortiz. He picked up 11 second-place votes and one third to outdistance Ortiz, who received 11 firsts and 17 seconds. Only one voter from the Baseball Writers' Association of America failed to put Rodriguez and Ortiz in the top two - that ballot had Los Angeles outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, the 2004 AL MVP, as tops followed by Ortiz and then Rodriguez.

Guerrero finished third overall with 196 points. Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada received two ninth-place votes and one 10th. Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts got one vote for eighth and two for 10th.

For most baseball writers and fans, though, this was a simple debate between Rodriguez, the perennial MVP candidate and above-average infielder, and Ortiz, Boston's Mr. Clutch who played just 10 games and 78 innings at first base this season.

Rodriguez led the league in homers (48), runs (124) and slugging percentage (.610), and was fourth in RBIs (130). Ortiz had 47 homers, 119 runs and led the majors with 148 RBIs. He also collected 18 more RBIs with runners in scoring position than Rodriguez in 24 fewer opportunities.

The offensive numbers were close enough that the prevailing issue was whether a designated hitter and a third baseman should be treated equally.

The voters ultimately said no, helping Rodriguez become the first Yankee since Don Mattingly in 1985 - and the 19th overall - to win a MVP.

"There's probably 15, 16 offensive categories if you want to be a baseball junkie, and, I'm not sure, I may have won 10 or 12 of those," Rodriguez, 30, said. "But I think defense for the most part, being a balanced player and also saving a lot of runs on the defensive side, was a major factor here."

It wasn't just that he played defense, Rodriguez said, but that he played it well.

"If I was a voter, No. 1 [would be] how many runs is this guy saving a year versus the guy who is a designated hitter?" Rodriguez said. "If the guy is a defender and he is an awful third baseman and he is hurting his team more than anything, then I would really have a more balanced approach."

After winning it in 2003 as a Texas Rangers shortstop, Rodriguez became just the fourth player to be named MVP with two different teams joining Barry Bonds, Jimmie Foxx and Frank Robinson. Only Hank Greenberg, Stan Musial and Robin Yount had won it at two different positions.

Still, Rodriguez said he'd give up his MVPs for Ortiz's World Series ring.

"That's a very easy choice for me, absolutely," he said.

There was some speculation that Ortiz's popularity and team-first image would hurt Rodriguez, who at times has been branded as selfish.

That wasn't the case, but the New York media didn't give Rodriguez a free ride during yesterday's teleconference. The first question centered not on the award but on recent news that Rodriguez was warned by the Yankees to refrain from attending poker clubs in New York City.

"Sometimes, you try to be a human being and have a little fun in a social event with your friends when they are in town from Miami," he said calmly. "It's not really a big deal. You realize that perhaps you made a mistake and you shouldn't go back."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

AL MVP voting

Voting with first-, second- and third-place votes and total points on a 14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis:

Player 1st 2nd 3rd Tot.

Alex Rodriguez, NY 16 11 1 331

David Ortiz, Bos 11 17 - 307

Vladimir Guerrero, LA 1 - 9 196

Manny Ramirez, Bos - - 9 156

Travis Hafner, Cle - - 5 151

Paul Konerko, Chi - - 2 128

Mark Teixeira, Tex - - 1 106

Gary Sheffield, NY - - - 84

Mariano Rivera, NY - - 1 59

Derek Jeter, NY - - - 23

Michael Young, Tex - - - 20

Scott Podsednik, Chi - - - 15

Johnny Damon, Bos - - - 12

Hideki Matsui, NY - - - 8

Richie Sexson, Sea - - - 7

Miguel Tejada, Orioles - - - 7

Chone Figgins, LA - - - 6

Victor Martinez, Cle - - - 5

Jason Giambi, NY - - - 5

Brian Roberts, Orioles - - - 5

Jason Varitek, Bos - - - 4

Eric Chavez, Oak - - - 4

Huston Street, Oak - - - 3

Bartolo Colon, LA - - - 3

Grady Sizemore, Cle - - - 3

Bob Wickman, Cle - - - 2

Jorge Cantu, TB - - - 1

Jose Contreras, Chi - - - 1

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