Votto runs away with NL MVP
Pujols’s reign comes to an end
Joey Votto and Albert Pujols had a long conversation behind the batting cage before a game a few years ago.
“There’s something about a star player of that magnitude kind of pulling you in and saying, ‘It’s OK, we can talk, don’t be a rookie right now, we’re going to talk like men,’ ’’ Votto said. “I think he made me feel comfortable and a little more confident.’’
Votto was overwhelmingly elected the National League’s Most Valuable Player yesterday, ending Pujols’s two-year reign.
A first baseman who helped the Reds reach the postseason for the first time in 15 years, Votto received 31 of 32 first-place votes and 443 points in voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Pujols, the St. Louis Cardinals’ first baseman, was second with the remaining first-place vote, from Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and 279 points after winning the award in 2005, 2008, and 2009.
“I tried to keep my head down for almost a year there, and it was nice to speak to somebody who’s been there and done that when it comes to everything,’’ Votto said. “For him to give me time of the day and to talk about defensive stuff and ways to improve my game was very generous of him, and he certainly didn’t have to do that.’’
Votto was a first-time All-Star, finishing second in the NL in batting average at .324 and third in homers (37) and RBIs (113). He led the NL in slugging percentage (.600), topped the major leagues in on-base percentage (.424), and had 16 stolen bases in 21 chances.
Pujols batted .312 and led the NL in homers (42) and RBIs (118).
“After the season, when I looked at my numbers and at Albert’s numbers, I thought: ‘Holy cow! He’s beaten me in a lot of them,’ ’’ Votto said.
The NL Central standings probably were the difference.
“Most importantly, we won,’’ Votto said.
Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez was third with 240 points after winning the NL batting title with a .336 average. San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez (197) was fourth, followed by Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki (132).
The AL winner will be announced today. Josh Hamilton of Texas is the front-runner.
Ortiz: ‘I’ll play hard’ Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said he would “play hard’’ next season in the wake of the team picking up his $12.5 million option instead of signing him to the multiyear deal he desired. “Boston made its decision, and I am going to play hard,’’ Ortiz said in the Dominican Republic at an event to promote his charity golf tournament. “I wanted a new contract, but I know that this is a business. Sometimes good decisions are made and other times not.’’ . . . The Sox have until midnight tonight to decide whether to offer arbitration to any of their free agents. Decisions will have to be made on Adrian Beltre, Bill Hall, Felipe Lopez, Victor Martinez, and Jason Varitek.
Collins hired by Mets Terry Collins is a major league manager once again, hired by the New York Mets to help revitalize a franchise that has struggled on the field and at the gate. The Mets will hold a news conference today to introduce Collins. He managed the Houston Astros from 1994-96 and the Anaheim Angels from 1997-99, going 444-434 and finishing second in the division five of his six years in charge . . . Davey Lopes will coach first base and Tim Wallach will coach third base on new Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly’s first coaching staff. Mattingly also hired former Kansas City manager Trey Hillman as his bench coach . . . Lefthander Dontrelle Willis agreed to a minor league deal with the Reds.
Globe staff writer Peter Abraham contributed to this report.