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Bonds unanimous pick for fifth MVP award

By Ronald Blum The Associated Press
Tuesday November 12, 2002

NEW YORK — Barry Bonds became baseball’s first five-time Most Valuable Player, winning the NL award unanimously Monday. 

Bonds received all 32 first-place votes and 448 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. None of his previous MVP wins was unanimous. 

St. Louis outfielder Albert Pujols was second with 26 second-place votes and 276 points, followed by Houston outfielder Lance Berkman (181) and Montreal outfielder Vladimir Guerrero (168). 

Bonds also won the MVP award for Pittsburgh in 1990 and 1992 and for the Giants in 1993 and 2001, and is the first player to twice win the honor in consecutive seasons. No other player has won an MVP award more than three times, and only 10 others have won it in consecutive seasons. 

Last year, Bonds received 30 of 32 first-place votes, with two Chicago writers casting their ballots for Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa. Bonds finished second to Atlanta’s Terry Pendleton in 1991 and to teammate Jeff Kent in 2000. 

Bonds became the 14th unanimous winner, and just the fifth in the NL, joining Orlando Cepeda (1967), Mike Schmidt (1980), Jeff Bagwell (1994) and Ken Caminiti (1996). 

The 38-year-old Bonds won his first NL batting title this season with a .370 average and set records with 198 walks, 68 intentional walks and a .582 on-base percentage. He had a .799 slugging percentage, down from his record .863 last year but still good enough to lead the major leagues. 

“The guy to me, Bonds, has been the most dominant from what I’ve seen in 35 years of watching major league baseball,” said Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, the AL MVP in 1973. “I haven’t seen anybody do what Bonds has done the last two years.” 

Bonds hit 46 homers, down from a record 73 the previous year, and had a team-high 110 RBIs as San Francisco won its first NL pennant since 1989. But Bonds and the Giants lost the World Series to Anaheim in seven games after being just six outs from the title in Game 6. 

“It’s not going to haunt us,” he said after the Game 7 loss two weeks ago. “We’ll go to spring training and start again.” 

MVP voting was conducted before the postseason, when Bonds hit .356 with eight homers, 16 RBIs and 27 walks. The outfielder, who often appears aloof and combative, said he enjoyed the World Series, even though the Giants didn’t win. He claims to dislike the attention. 

“I just want to go to the ballpark, do my job just like anybody else, go home and be with my family,” he said during the World Series. “I chose to play baseball because I want to be the best at it for whatever it is for me. Being a team concept, doing the best I can. I don’t like to talk about it really. I’d rather just show it on the field.” 

He is showing his talents in Japan this week as part of the major league all-star tour. He homered twice Saturday against the Yomiuri Giants, struck out three times Sunday against Japanese stars, then hit a two-run homer in Monday’s 8-2 loss. 

Pujols hit .314 with 34 homers and 127 RBIs, one short of Berkman’s league-leading total. 

Bonds gets a $500,000 bonus added to his $13 million salary. He would have gotten $150,000 for the World Series MVP award — he was a 5-0 winner when votes were collected with the Giants ahead late in Game 6 but lost 4-1 to Anaheim’s Troy Glaus when the Series ended the following night. 

Berkman gets $25,000 for finishing third, and Los Angeles outfielder Shawn Green gets $50,000 for finishing fifth.