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Pujols named NL MVP

Pujols named NL MVP

Pujols named NL MVP

New York, NY (Sports Network) - St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols has been named the National League's Most Valuable Player, as voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Pujols, who won this award in 2005 and is a four-time runner-up, garnered 369 points to outdistance Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard by 61 points. Pujols placed first on 18 of the 32 ballots cast by two writers from each NL city, second on 10 others, third on two, fourth on one and seventh on another.

"There were so many candidates, but they decided to choose me," Pujols said. "I just thank God that I could come out on top for my second MVP award. Every year it gets tougher to accomplish your dreams."

This was the eighth consecutive top-10 finish in MVP voting for Pujols, who was second in 2002, 2003 and 2006, third in 2004, fourth in 2001 (his rookie year) and ninth in 2007.

The 28-year-old Pujols, who was named the Sporting News Player of the Year and the NL's Most Outstanding Player earlier this offseason, finished second to Atlanta's Chipper Jones in the NL batting race, hitting .357 with 37 home runs and 116 runs batted in during the 2008 season, and did so while playing with a torn ligament in his right elbow.

"It's really tough to maintain yourself with all these great pitchers throwing 95 (miles an hour)," Pujols said. "To maintain yourself all year is tough to do. It's something I'm really proud of and worked really hard for. All the home runs and RBI are going to come because of the power I have. But if you hit for a high batting average, you will have more opportunities to drive in guys from second base."

Pujols' 104 walks, .462 on-base percentage and 1.115 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) were all career highs. He is also the only major leaguer to hit at least 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs in each of his first eight seasons.

"It's a lot of hard work," Pujols said when asked how he walks so much without striking out like other top sluggers. "If you go to 2001, my first year, I struck out 95 times (inlcuding playoffs), and I was disappointed -- I had never struck out (that many times) before. I prefer to put the ball in play. If guys make an error with two outs, the guy behind me can hit a two-run homer. I try to make sure I walk more than I strike out. I don't think about it, I just try to work hard at it."

This marks the 16th time a Cardinals player has been honored. Their total of MVP winners is the most in the NL and second only to the New York Yankees' 20 MVPs in the American League.

Howard, who edged Pujols for this award in 2006, picked up 12 first-place votes, eight second-place tallies, six third, one fifth, one sixth, two seventh-place and one 10th-place vote for a total of 308, based on a tabulation system that rewards 14 points for first place, nine for second, eight for third on down to one for 10th.

Howard, who will turn 29 on Wednesday, led the majors with 48 home runs and 146 RBI, but batted just .251 with 199 strikeouts. Howard, though, was particularly effective down the stretch for the World Series champion Phillies, hitting .352 (31-for-88) with seven doubles, two triples, 11 home runs, 32 RBI and 26 runs scored in September.

However, no everyday player has won an MVP in either league and hit less than .267.

Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, last year's NL Rookie of the Year, finished third with 139 points and was followed by Los Angeles' Manny Ramirez (138) and Houston's Lance Berkman (126).

Phillies closer Brad Lidge received the other two first-place votes and finished eighth in the balloting.

The AL MVP will be announced on Tuesday.

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