Bonds wins record fourth NL MVP

Nov. 19, 2001 at 3:01 PM
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NEW YORK, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Barry Bonds captured his unprecedented fourth Most Valuable Player Award on Monday, capping one of the greatest offensive seasons in baseball history.

Bonds received 30 of the 32 first-place votes and 438 points in the balloting for National League MVP by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

The San Francisco Giants left fielder broke Mark McGwire's single-season home run record with 73 while besting Babe Ruth en route to setting new single-season standards for walks (177) and slugging percentage (.863).

Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs received the other two first-place votes and was second with 278 points.

Bonds became the second consecutive Giant to win the award after second baseman Jeff Kent was honored in 2000. Bonds won the award in 1993 with San Francisco and in 1992 and 1990 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

With the retirement of McGwire, Bonds has assumed the role as the game's top active slugger and has fans and the media talking about a pursuit of Hank Aaron's all-time home run record of 755.

Adding to the drama, Bonds is a free agent Tuesday and sure to draw his share of attention from teams around the league. The last reigning MVP to change teams was Bonds, who went from Pittsburgh to San Francisco in 1993.

The only other three-time winners of the awards were Stan Musial, Roy Campanella and Mike Schmidt in the NL and Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle in the American League.

The 37-year-old Bonds becomes the third-oldest player to win an MVP award. Willie Stargell of Pittsburgh was 39 in 1979 and pitcher Dennis Eckersley of Oakland was 38 in 1992.

Bonds, who won all of his MVPs in the NL, also led the league in on-base percentage (.515) and extra-base hits (107). But it was not enough to get the Giants to the playoffs, a destination that Bonds repeatedly called his only goal.

With a dramatic final push that was too much for the baseball writers to ignore, Bonds added to his Hall of Fame resume that already has him among the most select company.

With his mind-boggling numbers, Bonds managed to overshadow a trio of players who were pivotal to their clubs' success and deserving of frontrunner status most years.

Sosa was second despite hitting a career-best .328 with 64 homers -- his major league-record third 60-homer season.

Luis Gonzalez of the Arizona Diamondbacks was third in the voting with 261 points after hitting .325 with a career-high 57 homers and 142 RBI.

Albert Pujols of the St Louis Cardinals was fourth, the best showing by a rookie in the voting since Fred Lynn and Jim Rice of Boston were first and third, respectively, in 1975.

Rounding out the top 10 in the voting were Lance Berkman of Houston, Shawn Green of Los Angeles, Jeff Bagwell of Houston, Chipper Jones of Atlanta, Todd Helton of Colorado and Curt Schilling of Arizona.

Twenty-eight players received votes.

The AL MVP will be announced on Tuesday.

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