A-Rod, Mussina earn AL MVP votes
Slugger places eighth; righty one of three hurlers recognized
NEW YORK -- Even before the season's first pitch was thrown, Alex Rodriguez foresaw change coming to the MVP balloting, good-naturedly predicting that he would not repeat as the American League's top player in 2008.
While A-Rod indeed would not add another trophy to his collection, the Yankees third baseman's Spring Training claim that Derek Jeter would win the award fell short. Rodriguez and right-hander Mike Mussina were the only Bombers who garnered votes for the AL MVP Award, which was secured by Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old Rodriguez received 45 points in the balloting for the award, finishing eighth. Rodriguez -- who won his third AL MVP Award and second as a Yankee in 2007 -- did not receive a vote higher than fifth place. He was also issued a sixth-place vote, four seventh-place votes, one for eighth, four for ninth place and seven for 10th.
Despite missing three weeks with a quadriceps injury, Rodriguez still produced solid offensive numbers, as he recorded at least 35 home runs for the 11th straight season and 12th time in his career (1996, 1998-2008), tying Babe Ruth for the most such seasons and passing Hank Aaron and Mike Schmidt on that all-time list.
"I've set some really high standards for myself, and 11 years in a row, that says a lot more than the numbers," Rodriguez said this year. "It says that you stayed healthy and you've been very fortunate, and also that you've played with some tremendous teammates."
In his first season after signing a new 10-year contract with the Yankees, Rodriguez batted .302, with 35 home runs and 103 RBIs in 138 games for New York. That was good for a selection to his 12th AL All-Star team, and he recently won a Silver Slugger Award, his third as a Yankee and 10th overall. A-Rod's .573 slugging percentage led the Junior Circuit.
Despite continued struggles with runners in scoring position, Rodriguez helped close out Yankee Stadium with respectable offensive numbers from June 7 on. He batted .324 with 17 home runs and 47 RBIs in his last 50 home games in the Bronx, before the Yankees move across 161st Street to their new facility for the 2009 season.
"He's a big offensive player, year in and year out," manager Joe Girardi said. "He keeps himself in unbelievable shape, and he's able to drive the ball out of the ballpark the other way -- not a lot of guys can do that. What he's done over his career is amazing, and he's still got a long way to go."
Mussina earned one eighth-place vote in the balloting for the AL MVP Award. The 39-year-old right-hander had a renaissance season, rebounding from a troubling 2007 campaign to become the oldest first-time 20-game winner in Major League history.
Mussina completed his storybook season by beating the Red Sox at Fenway Park on the final day of the regular season to finish 20-9 with a 3.37 ERA in 34 starts, giving him 270 victories for his Major League career and placing him on the cusp of discussion for possible enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.