NEW YORK (AP) Cincinnati’s Joey Votto was overwhelmingly elected the National League’s Most Valuable Player on Monday, ending the two-year reign of Albert Pujols.
Votto, a first baseman who helped the Reds reach the postseason for the first time in 15 years, received 31 of 32 first-place votes and 443 points in voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Votto was a first-time All-Star, finishing second in the NL in batting average at .324 and third in homers (37) and RBIs (113). He led the NL in slugging percentage (.600) and topped the major leagues in on-base percentage (.424).
Now 27, Votto didn’t become a major league regular until two years ago. Following the death of his father in August 2008, he went on the disabled list and missed 21 games the following year partly because of depression and anxiety.
“I have overcome a lot, and I am pretty proud of myself,” Votto said. “I had a really difficult time for me getting over the death of my father. It’s still difficult for me now.”
Pujols, the St. Louis Cardinals’ first baseman, was second with the remaining first-place vote and 279 points after winning the award in 2005, 2008 and 2009. He batted .312 and led the NL in homers (42) and RBIs (118).
“I didn’t think it would be so conclusive,” Votto said of his victory margin. “I think it was a tossup. I beat him in batting average, but we all kind of know batting average is an overrated statistic.”
Cincinnati winning the NL Central probably was the difference.
Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez was third with 240 points after winning the NL batting title with a .336 average. San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez (197) was fourth, followed by Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki (132) and Philadelphia pitcher Roy Halladay (130),
Balloting was completed before he went 1 for 10 with one RBI in the first-round playoff loss to Philadelphia.
He joined Ernie Lombardi (1938), Bucky Walters (1939), Frank McCormick (1940), Frank Robinson (1961), Johnny Bench (1970 and 1972), Pete Rose (1973), Joe Morgan (1975-76), George Foster (177) and Barry Larkin (1995) as Reds to win the award. The Reds’ 12 MVPs are tied with the Giants for second in the NL behind the Cardinals (17). In the AL, the New York Yankees have won 20.
The AL winner will be announced Tuesday. Josh Hamilton of Texas is the front-runner.
Pujols has 10 straight top 10 finishes. His three wins and four second-place finishes matched those of Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial.
Votto, a bargain with a $525,000 salary, will be eligible for arbitration for the first time. Neither Votto nor Gonzalez ($406,000) had MVP bonus provisions. Pujols gets $100,000 for finishing second. By finishing fourth, Adrian Gonzalez gets a $100,000 raise to $6.3 million next season.
Born in Toronto, Votto becomes the third Canadian-born MVP, following Colorado’s Larry Walker (1997) and Minnesota’s Justin Morneau (2006).