NEW YORK - Justin Morneau won the American League's Most Valuable Player Award on Tuesday, edging Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees after a season in which his 34 homers and 130 RBI helped the Minnesota Twins capture their division.
Morneau received 15 first-place votes, eight seconds, three thirds and two fourths for 320 points in voting by a panel of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Jeter got 12 firsts, 14 seconds, one fourth and one sixth for 306 points.
"Last night even I was saying I don't expect to get it. I might have given myself maybe a 50-50 chance," Morneau said. "I didn't want to set myself up for disappointment if I didn't get it."
Three Twins finished among the top seven in the MVP voting. Joe Mauer won the AL batting title this year and Minnesota pitcher Johan Santana won the AL Cy Young last week.
"That says a lot," Morneau said. "I'd love to play my whole career here. We have a great young team."
Boston's David Ortiz was third, followed by Oakland's Frank Thomas, Chicago's Jermaine Dye, Mauer, and Santana, who received the other first-place vote.
It was the 16th-closest MVP race since the current format began in 1938.
Morneau hit .321 in helping the Twins win the AL Central for the fourth time in five years. Jeter batted .344 with 14 homers and 97 RBI, finishing three points behind Mauer.
Morneau became the second Canadian-born player to win an MVP following Colorado's Larry Walker in 1997.
Morneau is the fourth Minnesota player to win following Zoilo Versalles (1965), Harmon Killebrew (1969) and Rod Carew (1977).
Earning just $385,000 in his third season as a regular, Morneau proved a bargain.
AL MVP VOTING
|Justin Morneau, Twins||15||8||3||320|
|Derek Jeter, Yankees||12||14||-||306|
|David Ortiz, Red Sox||-||1||11||193|
|Frank Thomas, A's||-||3||4||174|
|Jermaine Dye, White Sox||-||1||2||156|
WHO HAS THE EDGE ON PAPER?
AL MVP Justin Morneau trailed Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (right) in several statistical categories in 2006. Red indicates who led the category.