HOUSTON -- In any other year, Lance Berkman might have walked away with his first National League Most Valuable Player Award, but Berkman's sensational season was only good enough to put the Houston first baseman into third place in the 2006 NL MVP Award balloting announced Monday.

Philadelphia's Ryan Howard garnered 20 first-place votes and 388 votes to beat out Albert Pujols of St. Louis in the balloting while Berkman finished with 230 points on 21 third-place votes, four fourth-place votes, three fifths, two sixths, one seventh and one ninth.

Former Astro Carlos Beltran came in fourth with 211 points. Berkman, Pujols, Howard and Beltran were the only players named on all 32 ballots.

Berkman, who set career highs with 45 home runs and 136 RBIs while hitting .315 with a .420 on-base percentage, received the most points by an Astro in the balloting since Jeff Bagwell finished second to Atlanta's Chipper Jones in 1999 with 276 points.

In the last six years Berkman has finished in the top seven in the NL MVP voting four times, a feat surpassed by only Pujols (six times) and San Francisco's Barry Bonds (five).

It was the second third-place showing for Berkman, who also finished third in the balloting following the 2002 season. Berkman came in 14th last year with just 21 points while teammate Morgan Ensberg finished a team-high fourth, trailing only Pujols, Andruw Jones and Derrek Lee of the Cubs.

Berkman came in seventh with 100 points in 2004, third with 181 points in 2002 and fifth with 125 points in 2001.

Berkman made the All-Star team for the fourth time during the 2006 season and finished in the top 10 in the league in batting, on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, total bases, home runs, RBIs and walks.

The Astros have had only one MVP winner in franchise history, Bagwell in 1994.

2006 NL MVP Award
Voting results ¬
Player, Club1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th10thPoints
Ryan Howard, PHI2012        388
Albert Pujols, STL12191       347
Lance Berkman, HOU  214321 1 230
Carlos Beltran, NYM 15156221  211
Miguel Cabrera, FLA  26105512 170
Alfonso Soriano, WAS  12461721106
Jose Reyes, NYM  1155341298
Chase Utley, PHI   1 67101198
David Wright, NYM  1122523170
Trevor Hoffman, SD   211122746
Andruw Jones, ATL     1215329
Carlos Delgado, NYM    111 2423
Nomar Garciaparra, LAD      2 3418
Rafael Furcal, LAD      1 3111
Garrett Atkins, COL     1 1 210
Matt Holliday, COL       12310
Aramis Ramirez, CHC       11 5
Freddy Sanchez, PIT        215
Chris Carpenter, STL      1   4
Chipper Jones, ATL       1  3
Mike Cameron, SD        1 2
Jimmy Rollins, PHI        1 2
Bronson Arroyo, CIN         11
Jason Bay, PIT         11
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