Anaheim Angels' Vladimir Guerrero, of the Dominican Republic, smiles during an interview at the National Palace in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on Tuesday, Nov. 16 in 2004. Guerrero won the AL MVP award today, receiving 21 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
AP Photo/Miguel Gomez
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 team.
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 10th.
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 every year.
''It really left a taste in my mouth,'' he said.
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