NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez's whirlwind 2007 season neared completion Monday when he was named the American League Most Valuable Player in a landslide.
The New York Yankees third baseman received 26 of 28 first-place votes and earned 382 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Magglio Ordonez (258) of the Detroit Tigers was second and received the other two first-place votes (from two Michigan writers).
Although A-Rod's 10-year, $275 million contract to play for the Yankees through 2017 hasn't been completed, that appears to be a matter of time.
"I have tremendous faith that I will be a world champion, and what better place to do that than in New York," Rodriguez said Monday. "So hopefully, everything works out for everyone."
Rodriguez, 32, had one of the best offensive seasons in major-league history. He batted .314 with 54 home runs, 156 RBIs and 143 runs.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he was the first player to lead the major leagues in home runs, RBIs and runs since the Yankees' Roger Maris did so in 1961 (61-142-132, the 142 RBIs tying him with Orlando Cepeda).
Rodriguez also led the majors with a slugging percentage of .645 and an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.067.
He had the fifth-highest RBI total in the majors since 1950. No Yankee has driven in more runs since Joe DiMaggio had 167 RBIs in 1937. Rodriguez hit the most home runs by a Yankee since Maris' 61 and Mickey Mantle's 54 in 1961 and broke his own record for home runs by a righthanded-hitting Yankee.
This was Rodriguez's third MVP award. He also won with the Texas Rangers in 2003 and the Yankees in '05.
"It was a magical season both on and off the field, coming together with my teammates in the clubhouse," he said, a point he emphasized during the call. "It was a type of year that I'll never forget."
General manager Brian Cashman said by phone: "Tremendous year, I mean well-deserved. The obvious choice. We don't make the playoffs without that type of performance. We obviously owe him for getting us there."
With Rodriguez returning to the fold for the next 10 seasons, he should have plenty more chances to go for a World Series ring. That is the one gap in his career: He has never played in the World Series.
"There's definitely a huge hole in the résumé," he said. "It's my third MVP, and I'm here to say that I would trade all three for one world championship. I wouldn't think twice about it. The only reason why we play this game, and why I came to New York, is to win a ring."
With Rodriguez's return to pinstripes imminent, he didn't have to spend his MVP conference call fending off a litany of questions on why he opted out of his contract without even negotiating with the Yankees.
The only questions he put off regarded the evolution of events from his opt-out during Game 4 of the World Series on Oct. 28 to his meeting with Hank and Hal Steinbrenner last week in an attempt to lock up his future in pinstripes.
Rodriguez said he "would love" to address those questions at a more appropriate time, as in after the contract is signed.
"There is a finish line in sight, and I'd like to just ask for a little patience, and when the time is right, I'll be all yours to answer questions," he said of the negotiations. "All I can tell you is that the discussions with my wife (Cynthia) and the Steinbrenners went really well."
In a phone interview Monday, Hank Steinbrenner echoed Rodriguez's belief that A-Rod will be wearing pinstripes on opening day.
Said Steinbrenner, "I'm definitely very happy. Everything's going smoothly. Everything's going fine. It's just a matter of crossing the t's and dotting the i's, not necessarily with Alex."
Club president Randy Levine said the sides are working on the "language" in the contract.
The Yankees are trying to add incentives Rodriguez could achieve as he approaches the all-time home run record, but such clauses must be approved by Major League Baseball.
Given the short work week because of Thanksgiving, the contract might not be final until next week.
|AL MVP VOTING|
|Alex Rodriguez, NY||26||2||--||382|
|Magglio Ordonez, Det||2||22||4||258|
|Vladimir Guerrero, LA||--||3||10||203|
|David Ortiz, Bos||--||1||11||177|