Morneau runner-up in AL MVP tally

Morneau runner-up in AL MVP tally

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins catcher Joe Mauer held off Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia for the batting title this past season, but neither Mauer nor teammate Justin Morneau was able to overtake Pedroia for the American League Most Valuable Player Award.

Morneau finished as runner-up to Pedroia for the award and Mauer placed fourth when results of the voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America were announced on Tuesday.

Twenty-eight BBWAA members cast ballots ranking players from first to 10th for the award. The balloting system rewards 14 points for first place, nine for second, eight for third and on down to one point for 10th place.

Pedroia won the award with a total of 317 points, receiving a total of 16 first-place votes. He became the first AL second baseman to take home the honor in 49 years.

Morneau, the AL MVP in 2006, fell just a little short of earning his second MVP honor in the last three seasons. The Twins first baseman received seven first-place votes and finished with a total of 257 points. He was one of only two players named on all 28 ballots. The other was third-place finisher Kevin Youkilis, Pedroia's teammate, who earned a total of 201 points.

Mauer also was listed first on two ballots. He finished with 188 points, receiving a vote from 27 of the 28 writers who cast ballots.

Morneau had been considered to be among the unofficial frontrunners for the award, yet Mauer's high finish in the voting was a bit unexpected. There were questions as to whether Pedroia and Youkilis might cancel each other out in balloting, but it was in fact the Twins duo whose award hopes were hampered by both having such successful seasons.

The Twins first baseman batted .300 with 23 home runs and 129 RBIs (second-most in the AL) while playing all of the club's 163 games. Morneau's 47 doubles set a new Twins record and he was also one of just three AL players to finish the year with an average over .300 with at least 40 doubles and 100 RBIs.

2008 AL MVP Award Voting
Player, Club 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th Points
Dustin Pedroia, BOS 16 6 4 1             317
Justin Morneau, MIN 7 7 6 3 3 1 1       257
Kevin Youkilis, BOS 2 4 4 9 2 4 1 2     201
Joe Mauer, MIN 2 8 1 3 4 3 3 2 1   188
Carlos Quentin, CWS   1 4 8 4 4 4   1 1 160
Francisco Rodriguez, LAA 1 2 6 1 6   3 2   2 143
Josh Hamilton, TEX     2 2 3 7 3 2 4 3 112
Alex Rodriguez, NYY         1 1 4 1 4 7 45
Carlos Pena, TB     1   2   2 3 2 3 44
Grady Sizemore, CLE           2 1 5 6 1 42
Evan Longoria, TB           2 2 5 2 1 38
Cliff Lee, CLE       1 1 1 1   1   24
Miguel Cabrera, DET           1   1 4 1 17
Vladimir Guerrero, LAA             2 2 1   16
Jermaine Dye, CWS         1     2   2 14
Aubrey Huff, BAL           1     2 3 12
Milton Bradley, TEX           1 1       9
Jason Bartlett, TB         1           6
Mike Mussina, NYY               1     3
Raul Ibanez, SEA                   1 1
Ian Kinsler, TEX                   1 1
Ichiro Suzuki, SEA                   1 1
Mark Teixeira, LAA                   1 1

Morneau's numbers in '08 were similar to those he put up two years ago, but this season may be even more impressive because Morneau was without the support of the bats of Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer behind him. Hunter departed via free agency prior to the start of the '08 season and Cuddyer missed the majority of the season due to various injuries.

Mauer became only the second catcher in Major League history to earn multiple batting titles after hitting .328 in 2008. He also recorded 31 doubles, nine home runs and 85 RBIs in 146 games while providing leadership behind the plate to a very young Twins starting rotation.

Although there was some disagreement between whether Mauer or Morneau was more valuable for the Twins in 2008, it was Morneau who had been considered one of the favorites for the award late in the season. But his campaign for a second MVP was likely hampered by a tough September. The first baseman batted just .243 over the final month as the Twins couldn't capitalize on their chance to make the playoffs.

"Whatever happens, happens," Morneau said of the AL MVP race after the Twins' final loss in Chicago on Sept. 30. "That's the furthest thing from my mind right now. Making the playoffs was the only goal that we had coming into the season. ... There's a lot of guys that can be mentioned in there and deserve it. That's the last thing I'm going to lose sleep over this winter."

Despite falling short in the MVP balloting, Morneau didn't walk away from the awards season empty-handed. Along with earning his second Silver Slugger, the Twins first baseman was also awarded the Oscar Charleston Legacy Award, given to each league's most valuable player, as named by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Mauer also has earned his share of hardware this offseason. In addition to capturing his second batting title in the last three seasons, the catcher earned his first career Gold Glove and second Silver Slugger. He's the second Twins player in history to win both a Gold Glove and a batting title in the same season, joining Kirby Puckett, who did it in 1989.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.