NEW YORK -- Vladimir Guerrero had such a huge impact during
the final week of the season that voting for the American League
Most Valuable Player award wasn't even close.
Guerrero easily defeated his competitors on the Boston Red Sox
and New York Yankees on Tuesday, becoming just the fifth player to
switch leagues and earn the honor in his first season with his new
The Anaheim Angels right fielder received 21 of 28 first-place
votes and 354 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers'
Association of America.
Yankees right fielder Gary Sheffield finished second with five
first-place votes and 254 points. Boston players split the
remaining two first-place votes, with left fielder Manny Ramirez
finishing third with 238 points and designated hitter David Ortiz
winding up fourth with 174 points.
Guerrero was prepared for a close vote.
"I was in no way expecting it to be the way it came out," he
said through a translator during a conference call from the
presidential palace in the Dominican Republic.
Guerrero, 28, signed a $70 million, five-year contract with the
Angels last January after eight seasons with the Montreal Expos. He
hit .337 with 39 homers and 126 RBIs as Anaheim won the AL West,
and led the league with 124 runs and 366 total bases.
He batted .371 in September with 10 homers and 23 RBIs, and went
14-for-30 (.467) with six homers and 11 RBIs in the last six games
of the season, helping the Angels finish one game ahead of Oakland.
Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia said Guerrero was "at times
carrying our team single-handedly."
"When he came to our team, our expectations were obviously
very, very high, and he met every one of them," Scioscia said.
"Not many players can do what he did the last week."
The only other non-rookies who became MVPs in their first AL
seasons were Baltimore's Frank Robinson (1966), Chicago's Dick
Allen (1972) and Detroit's Willie Hernandez (1984). In the NL, Kirk
Gibson accomplished the feat with Los Angeles in 1988.
Houston's Roger Clemens won the NL Cy Young Award last week
following his first season in the league. Clemens won six Cy Youngs
in the AL.
Guerrero became the second Angels player to win, joining Don
Baylor (1979). He is the fourth Dominican to be MVP, following
Toronto's George Bell (1987), the Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa (1998)
and Oakland's Miguel Tejada (2002). He became the ninth straight
player from the AL West to win.
"Vlad has got such a great temperament. For as talented as he
is, he's probably the most unassuming superstar you'd ever be
around," Scioscia said. "He's got probably the smallest ego of
anybody that has accomplished what he has."
Guerrero was especially happy the three of the top four
finishers in the voting were Dominican.
"It's in our blood," he said. "We grow up with baseball."
Guerrero gets a $500,000 bonus for winning the award and Ramirez
$100,000 for finishing third. Ortiz didn't get anything for
finishing fourth -- but would get $400,000 for finishing second
through fifth in his contract that starts next season.
Tejada, now with Baltimore, gets a $300,000 bonus for finishing
fifth, and Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez gets $100,000 for winding up
Anaheim was swept by Boston in the first round of the playoffs,
Guerrero's first time in the postseason, and he hopes to get back
"It really left a taste in my mouth," he said.