Twins 1B Morneau edges Yankees SS Jeter for AL MVP
November 25, 2006 7:56pm CST
Derek Jeter barely lost the batting title to Joe Mauer. He also was nosed out for American League Most Valuable Player by Justin Morneau, another member of the Minnesota Twins. Morneau edged the superstar shortstop of the New York Yankees by 14 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America announced Tuesday. The 25-year-old Morneau is the youngest player to win the AL MVP since Frank Thomas won with the Chicago White Sox in 1993 and the first Twin to earn the honor since Rod Carew in 1977. A first baseman, Morneau hit .321 with 34 homers and 130 RBI - second most in the league and in franchise history - as the Twins won the American League Central Division title. "I never thought I'd be sitting here with this award," Morneau said at an afternoon news conference. "I was just lying there with the phone by my side all day hoping it would ring. The phone never left my side." The Twins heated up around the same time as Morneau. They were 25-33 and 11 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit on June 7. From there, the Twins went 71-33 as Morneau hit .362 with 23 homers and 92 RBI. Jeter put together perhaps his best all-around season in 2006 as the Yankees won their ninth straight American League East crown. Since coming to the major leagues in 1996 at the age of 21, Jeter has captured seemingly every team and individual award. But he finished second in his bid for a batting title this season, hitting .343 to Mauer's .347. Jeter had 14 home runs and 97 RBI in 154 games. He stole a career-high 34 bases, led the league by reaching base 295 times and ranked second with 118 runs. But the captain of the Yankees was unable to garner more votes than Morneau in MVP balloting. Morneau received 15 first-place votes and 320 points, while Jeter had 12 first-place votes and 306 points. Both players were named on all 28 ballots. Morneau received no vote lower than fourth while Jeter received no third- and fifth-place votes, collecting one fourth and one sixth. "I'm flattered and honored to have been considered for the American League Most Valuable Player Award," Jeter said in a statement. "I want to congratulate Justin Morneau on this well-deserved honor. He is a special player, and I suspect this won't be the last time you will hear his name mentioned when awards are being passed out." Last year, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez edged Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz by 24 points (331-307) in the MVP voting. Ortiz finished third this year with 193 points after recording a franchise-record 54 homers and a league-leading 137 RBI despite missing 11 games with an elevated heartbeat. Thomas, now a designated hitter for the Oakland Athletics, was fourth and outfielder Jermaine Dye of the Chicago White Sox fifth. Ortiz and Dye were named on all 28 ballots. Mauer and teammate Johan Santana were sixth and seventh, respectively. A unanimous winner of the AL Cy Young award, Santana received the remaining first-place vote. Morneau's RBI were second in franchise history to Harmon Killebrew, who drove in 140 runs in 1969 when he was named AL MVP. Jeter, 32, is best known for helping the Yankees win four World Series titles, including three straight from 1998-2000. He started his career with the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year award, took both All-Star Game and World Series MVP honors in 2000 and has won three Gold Gloves. This season, Jeter posted a career-high 23-game hitting streak, was second in the league in batting with runners on base (.366) and against lefthanded pitchers (.390) and was third with runners in scoring position (.390).