Sporting News honors A-Rod
Third baseman earns magazine's Player of the Year award
NEW YORK -- When stacks of yellow Sporting News ballots made their way to lockers around the Major Leagues late this season, the very first question asked turned out to be the easiest.
Alex Rodriguez was a runaway selection as the publication's Major League Player of the Year, as selected by his peers, earning 353 of 488 votes cast by big league players. Rodriguez's closest competitor was the Detroit Tigers' Magglio Ordonez, who received 39 votes.
Rodriguez had a terrific offensive season for the Yankees, playing out his fourth campaign in New York and seemingly in line to rack up his third career American League MVP award. The 32-year-old third baseman hit .314 and led the Majors with 54 home runs, 156 RBIs and 143 runs scored.
Rodriguez became just one of four players to reach the 150 RBI plateau on the Yankees' all-time franchise list, joining Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio.
Even in a season when he often remarked that he wasn't thinking about his personal accomplishments above the team's, Rodriguez admitted in late September that joining those "angels" made him "pretty giddy."
"It's something that I'll definitely cherish for the rest of my career," Rodriguez said. "It's hard to do, because the home run is an individual thing and a glamorous thing, but the RBIs and runs scored are more involved with winning, more involved with teammates and more of a team effort."
Rodriguez logged 183 hits and a .314 batting average in a season that also saw him become the youngest player to reach the 500-home run plateau, doing so at the age of 32 years and eight days on Aug. 4 to surpass the old mark set by Jimmie Foxx (32 years, 338 days).
"I don't think you can look back and say anyone's had a better season than he's had," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I can't. I haven't seen it."
Rodriguez struggled early in New York's four-game AL Division Series loss to Cleveland, finishing 4-for-15 (.267) with one home run and one RBI. He can become a free agent by exercising an opt-out clause in his contract, thus forfeiting the remaining three years and $81 million on his current deal.
In balloting for the Sporting News American League All-Star team, voted by players, three Yankees were selected. Rodriguez was tabbed as the AL's top third baseman, joined by shortstop Derek Jeter and catcher Jorge Posada.
Other award winners included American League Manager of the Year Eric Wedge of the Cleveland Indians, National League Manager of the Year Bob Melvin of the Arizona Diamondbacks, AL Rookie of the Year Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox and NL Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Sporting News balloting was conducted amongst big league players and managers and will appear in the Oct. 22 issue of the magazine, on newsstands this week.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.