Pirates fans give center fielder Andrew McCutchen a standing ovation as he makes his way to the PNC Park dugout during the team's season finale against Atlanta in October.
By Bill Brink Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Buster Posey's great year improved Thursday night.
Posey, the San Francisco Giants catcher, added a National League most valuable player award to the World Series ring he won this season. Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen finished third in the voting.
Posey received 27 first-place votes out of a possible 32. McCutchen finished behind Posey and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who received three first-place votes. St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina received two first-place votes. Posey had 422 total points, Braun 285 and McCutchen, who did not receive a first-place vote, had 245.
"It was an honor just to be nominated for National League MVP this season along with some of MLB's best players," McCutchen said in a statement. "I want to congratulate Buster Posey on an amazing season."
Posey, Braun and McCutchen were the only three players named on every ballot. Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America voted on the award.
The 25-year-old Posey won the NL batting title -- due to a rule change, requested by teammate Melky Cabrera, who served a suspension this season for a positive drug test -- with a .336 average, and hit 24 home runs. His on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS), when adjusted for ballpark and league effects, was the best in the league and 72 percent better than league average.
Posey, the 2010 NL rookie of the year, joined Ernie Lombardi as the only NL catchers to win batting titles. He became the first catcher to win the award since Johnny Bench in 1972.
McCutchen, 26, hit .327 with 31 home runs, a .400 on-base percentage and .553 slugging percentage, by far the best season of his four-year major league career. He was named the NL player of the month in both June and July, but a poor second half lowered his season totals.
"I believe that being an MVP finalist shows true improvement both from myself and the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, and that we are moving in the right direction," McCutchen said.
No Pirate has won the MVP since Barry Bonds won for the second time in 1992.
The MVP was McCutchen's to lose by midseason. He had a .373 batting average on Aug. 3, a mark he reached by hitting .446 in the month of July. He also had a .433 on-base percentage and 22 home runs at that point. He regressed from there; his power declined in August and he struck out more often in August and September. He also had one stolen base in June and July combined.
McCutchen hit .252 in August, .254 in September and finished behind Posey in the race for the batting title.
"Media members, players and fans alike are beginning to notice this progress as well," McCutchen said. "I am motivated to continue to work hard and I'm already looking forward to the 2013 season."
Braun, the 2011 MVP, hit .319 with a .595 slugging percentage and a league-leading .987 OPS. He also hit 41 home runs and stole 30 bases.
Molina finished fourth. San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley finished fifth, followed by New York Mets third baseman David Wright and Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche, a former Pirate.
The race for the American League MVP was equally lopsided, though it generated more dissention prior to its announcement. Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who won the triple crown by leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs, won the award, defeating AL rookie of the year Mike Trout.
Cabrera's .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs led the league. He became the first triple crown winner since Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 and received 22 of 28 first-place votes.
Trout, a 21-year-old outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels, did not even spend the full season in the majors yet hit .326 with 30 home runs and a .564 slugging percentage. He also stole 49 bases in 54 attempts, played superb defense and had a .399 on-base percentage. Trout received 281 points to Cabrera's 362 and became the first rookie to finish second in MVP voting.
Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre finished third, followed by New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton.
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