12/15/08 10:00 AM EST
Pujols named TYIB's Hitter of the Year
Slugger adds honor to list that also includes NL MVP, Clemente
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
Monday brought one more accolade for the Cardinals superstar, who was chosen as the 2008 Hitter of the Year in MLB.com's annual This Year in Baseball Awards presented by State Farm. The award was voted on by fans, and a record 12 million ballots were cast -- eclipsing last year's total of 9.6 million.
Pujols beat out nine other contenders, taking 19 percent of the votes to claim his second career win in the Hitter category (2003). Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox came in second, with 16.4 percent, followed by the Twins' Justin Morneau, at 14.5 percent, and the Phillies' Ryan Howard, at 13.1 percent. Farther down the ballot were Chipper Jones, Manny Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Carlos Delgado, Josh Hamilton and Mark Teixeira.
"I would say this year was [my] best because of the consistency that I had from Day 1, all the way to the end of the season," Pujols said recently. "I was really patient at the plate."
The selection of Pujols ended a trend in the balloting for Hitter of the Year. Each of the previous four winners hailed from the American League East, with Alex Rodriguez winning in 2007, Derek Jeter in 2006, and David Ortiz in 2004 and '05. Pujols' performance, however, was so spectacular as to overcome even Pedroia's huge built-in fan base.
It made for what was pretty much a clean sweep for the St. Louis slugger. Pujols was named the National League's Most Valuable Player by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, and he won the Roberto Clemente Award for excellence on and off the field. He was also named the NL or Major League Player of the Year by the Sporting News, the MLB Players Association and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and was also the NL MVP in Baseball Prospectus' Internet Baseball Awards.
There was virtually no debate.
And why should there be? Pujols batted .357, second in the NL and the second-highest mark of his career. He finished second in the league with a career-best .462 on-base percentage and led the NL with a .653 slugging percentage that was 18 points off his career high.
And the counting stats weren't bad, either. Pujols racked up 37 home runs, drove in 116 runs, scored 100 runs, laced 44 doubles and drew 104 walks against 54 strikeouts.
Results of the remaining 11 TYIB Awards will be rolled out through Friday:
Tuesday: Oddity/Play/Defensive Player
Thursday: Closer/Setup Man/Starter
Friday: Moment/Postseason Moment/Performance