No-brainer: A-Rod wins AL MVP Award
All-Star third baseman nabs honor for third time in his career
NEW YORK -- In an announcement that should have surprised absolutely no one, Alex Rodriguez claimed his third American League MVP Award on Monday, winning the coveted honor for the second time as a Yankee.
Putting it all together offensively as he reached new levels of comfort in New York, Rodriguez established career highs with 143 runs scored and 156 RBIs, leading the Major Leagues with 54 home runs while batting .314. His exploits led the Yankees to the playoffs for a 13th consecutive season.
"New York has been a place of growth to me," Rodriguez said on a conference call with reporters. "I really learned a lot as a player, and I've been able to become a better player in New York. To be able to win two MVPs in three years in that uniform -- I've said it all along, New York is a great place and it's been a privilege to wear that uniform.
"For me, it was a magical season, both on and off the field, coming together with my teammates in the clubhouse and in the community. To be able to put that type of year, it's certainly a year that I'll never forget."
A-Rod became the fifth AL player to win the award three times, but he did not win the honor unanimously. Rodriguez picked up 26 out of the 28 first-place votes, with Detroit's Magglio Ordonez, who came in second place, earning the other two votes.
The 32-year-old Rodriguez, who has agreed to the framework of a $275 million contract which would keep him in pinstripes through the 2018 season but declined to discuss the deal in specifics, also led the Major Leagues with a .645 slugging percentage and produced one RBI every 3.7 at-bats.
Without Rodriguez's hot start and continued contributions, the Yankees would likely have not been able to keep their string of 13 consecutive postseason appearances alive. That, he said, made this award more satisfying to him than either his 2003 AL MVP Award with the Rangers or his '05 award with the Yankees.
"It was such a tough year for us to get to the playoffs," Rodriguez said. "It seemed like we were in playoff mode after the All-Star Game, and this year, I was mentally exhausted after the season was over because it was such a tough fight."
While the Yankees floundered out of the gate, due in large part to injuries and underperformance, A-Rod kept the deficit from getting out of control. Rodriguez led the Major Leagues with 14 home runs in April and provided the club with a powerful point to rally around.
Consciously trying to keep as low a profile as possible while closing in on 500 home runs, Rodriguez helped the Yankees dig out from their season's low point, 14 1/2 games behind in the AL East and eight games under .500 on May 29.
By September, Rodriguez's efforts were recognized as a large reason why the Yankees were celebrating and claiming the AL Wild Card, before falling to the Indians in a four-game AL Division Series.
While Rodriguez said he was proud of his MVP Award, he made sure to state that there was "definitely a huge hole" in his resume -- namely, a World Series title. For all of his success and accolades, Rodriguez still has yet to log his first at-bat in the Fall Classic.
|2007 AL MVP Award Voting|
|Alex Rodriguez, NYY||26||2||382|
|Magglio Ordonez, DET||2||22||4||258|
|Vladimir Guerrero, LAA||3||10||9||3||3||203|
|David Ortiz, BOS||1||11||6||3||3||2||1||177|
|Mike Lowell, BOS||1||6||2||7||4||3||2||126|
|Jorge Posada, NYY||3||4||6||6||3||1||2||112|
|Victor Martinez, CLE||1||7||5||4||2||3||1||103|
|Ichiro Suzuki, SEA||1||6||2||5||3||3||1||89|
|Carlos Pena, TB||2||2||2||3||8||5||64|
|Curtis Granderson, DET||1||2||1||5||1||10||51|
|Derek Jeter, NYY||1||1||1||1||17|
|Grady Sizemore, CLE||1||1||3||1||15|
|J.J. Putz, SEA||1||1||1||12|
|C.C. Sabathia, CLE||1||1||2||11|
|Torii Hunter, MIN||1||1||5|
|Orlando Cabrera, LAA||1||2||5|
|Bobby Abreu, NYY||1||4|
|John Lackey, LAA||1||4|
|Placido Polanco, DET||1||1||4|
|Justin Morneau, MIN||1||3|
|Chone Figgins, LAA||1||1||3|
|Josh Beckett, BOS||2||2|
|Fausto Carmona, CLE||1||1|
|Frank Thomas, TOR||1||1|
"It's my third MVP, and I'm here to say that I would trade all three for one world championship," Rodriguez said. "I wouldn't think twice about it. The only reason we play this game, the reason I came to New York and the reason I have unfinished business in New York is because we haven't won a world championship with me being there."
Rodriguez became the youngest member of the 500-home run club on Aug. 4, when he homered off Kansas City's Kyle Davies, one of numerous historical accomplishments by the 11-time All-Star. At year's end, A-Rod would be listed as the only player in Major League history to record at least 140 runs scored, 50 home runs, 150 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in a single season.
He said the fact that he'd done it as a Yankee made it even more "special" in his view.
"When I sat down with [reporters] after the 500th home run, I truly felt like I was in Little League with a hamburger in front of me, eating French fries. I was so happy," Rodriguez said. "You talk about the privilege of wearing the uniform, and I've said it from Day 1 of Spring Training, that I would love to stay a Yankee and love New York. There's something magical when you go on that field in front of 55,000 people."
Rodriguez's MVP is the 20th won by a Yankees player since the honor was created in 1931. Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle are the only players to win it more than twice in pinstripes, each having done so three times.
Rodriguez's previous MVP Awards came in 2003 with the Rangers and in '05 with the Yankees, his second season in New York. That season, Rodriguez batted .321 with a Major League-leading 48 home runs, 124 runs scored and .610 slugging percentage as the Yankees won the AL East before bowing out in the first round.
In four seasons with the Bronx Bombers, Rodriguez has hit 173 home runs. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only player to hit more home runs for the Yankees over a four-year span was Babe Ruth, who hit 209 between 1927-30.
Rodriguez's new contract ensures that he will be present when the Yankees open their new ballpark across the street for the 2009 season, while also forecasting an era of baseball in New York that will be largely A-Rod dominated.
"I felt sometime in January I was committed to have a world championship-type season," Rodriguez said. "Although we came up short, I think this year was a year where it all came together for us. We've got some momentum going in for the future."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.