Pujols Wins Crown But Manny 'Most Valuable'

Baseball Writers Association of America selected Albert Pujols as the 2008 Most Valuable Player. And while few have a problem with the selection, it brings up the usual question, "Does the award to to the best player in the National League, or actually to the most valuable?" Apparently it is left to the writers to determine the answer to that.

Pujols' superb season earned him his second NL Most Valuable Player Award. His 369 points bested the 308 points garnered by Philadelphia's Ryan Howard, who beat him out by a narrow margin to win the 2006 MVP.

He has finished in the top 10 in the voting in every one of his eight Major League seasons, and has been fourth or better seven times. He is the 11th player to win two NL MVP Awards, and he's one of three active players with a pair of MVPs.

But was the the "most valuable" in 2008 since the Cardinals did not make the postseason? He was indisputably his league's best hitter and a Gold Glover at first base.

But where would the Dodgers have finished without the remarkable performance by Manny Ramirez over the final two months of the season? They had trailed Arizona most of the year and only a strong September surge, during which they won 17 games and lost eight, allowed them to edge the Diamondbacks by two games.

The Baseball Writers chose not to penalize Pujols for his team's fourth-place finish and this is how the voting has been for many years. The award going to the best player, not the most valuable.

St. Louis ended the season 11 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central and exceeded many preseason expectations with an 86-win season. And much of the credit must go to Pujols.

As Branch Rickey, in the middle 1950s the GM of the hapless Pirate, told home run king Ralph Kiner when he asked for a raise, "Son, we could have finished last without you."

Pujols hit .357, two points shy of his career high, and set new personal bests with a .462 on-base percentage, a 1.115 OPS and 104 walks. He slugged .653, nearly 30 points better than his career average, cranking 37 homers and 44 doubles. Pujols drove in 116 runs, scored 100 and struck out just 54 times.

The numbers for Ramirez, during his two-months of duty in Los Angeles, are familiar to all Dodger fans.

He hit a stunning .396, slipping below the magic .400 mark in his final, and meaningless, game of the regular season. In 53 games he had 31 extra-base hits, including 17 home runs and 53 runs batted in. He drew 38 walks and had a .489 on-base percentage and a 1.232 OPS.

Intangibles came into play also. The club hit .246 and scored 3.81 runs per game without Manny and .281 with an even 5.00 runs per game with Ramirez in the lineup.

Pujols had a glorious season. Call him the best player in the league or the player of the year, but Ramirez had to be the most valuable.

The last Dodger to finish in the top 10 was third baseman Adrian Beltré who was second in 2004 and according to one writer, was the non-steroid winner after Barry Bonds finished first.

There has been only two Dodger winners in the last 41 years -- Steve Garvey in 1974 and Kirk Gibson in 1988 -- since Sandy Koufax won his third award in 1966.

The BBWA members are asked to vote for 10, and the votes are weighted 14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Voting began in 1913, although no official MVP voting was conducted 1915-23 or in 1930.

  2008 NL MVP voting:
  Player  Club                  1st  2nd  3rd  Points
Albert Pujols, St. Louis  	18	10	2	369
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia   	12	8	6	308
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee	         0	2	3	139
Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles	 0	2	4	138
Lance Berkman, Houston	         0	2	4	126

CC Sabathia, Milwaukee	         0	4	5	121
David Wright, New York  	 0	2	1	115
Brad Lidge, Philadelphia	 2	0	2	104
Carlos Delgado, NY Mets	         0	0	5	 96
Aramis Ramirez, Chicago	         0	0	0	 66
 17 other players received votes.
All-time Dodger MVPs
Dodger players have ranked in the annual MVP voting since 1913, although no official MVP voting was conducted during 1915-23 or in 1930.

For the all-time rankings, players are awarded points similar to the MVP voting, with 14 for a first place vote, nine for second, etc. Players are ranked by total points earned over their Dodgers' career.

Jake Daubert was the first winner in 1913, followed by Dazzy Vance in 1924, Dolph Camilli in 1941, Jackie Robinson in 1949, Campanella in 1951, 1953, and 1955, Don Newcombe in 1956, Maury Wills in 1962, Sandy Koufax in 1963, Steve Garvey in 1974 and Kirk Gibson in 1988.

Brackets indicate times each was picked in the top ten. The * indicates he won the MVP award:

Career Player Points 35 - *Steve Garvey (5) 32 - Mike Piazza (5) 31 - *Roy Campanella (4) 30 - Duke Snider (6) 29 - Pee Wee Reese (8) 28 - *Sandy Koufax (3) 25 - *Jackie Robinson (4) 25 - *Maury Wills (4) 23 - Pedro Guerrero (3) 17 - *Don Newcombe (3)
Others career vote totals--*Dolph Camilli, Pete Reiser, Dixie Walker and *Dazzy Vance 16; *Kirk Gibson, Reggie Smith; Jake Daubert 13; Tommy Davis, Don Drysdale and Jim Gilliam 12; Dusty Baker, Shawn Green, 11.
Nine points--Adrian Beltré, Babe Herman, Sal Maglie and Zach Wheat.
Eight--Joe Black, Gil Hodges, Mike Marshall, Lefty O'Doul and Whitlow Wyatt.
Seven--Bruce Edwards, Carl Furillo, Billy Herman, Wally Moon, Mickey Owen, Manny Ramirez and Ron Perranoski.
Six--Fred Fitzsimmons, Eric Karros, Eddie Murray, Wes Parker, Preacher Roe, Fernando Valenzuela and Jim Wynn.
Five--Eric Gagné and Orel Hershiser.
Four--Brett Butler, Kirby Higbe, Charlie Neal, Phil Regan, Eddie Stanky and Glenn Wright.
Three--Ron Cey, Leo Durocher and Frank Howard.
Two--Carl Erskine, Jake Fournier and Gary Sheffield.
One--Al Downing, Luke Hamlin, Al Lopez, Goody Rosen and Darryl Strawberry.

LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories