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Ichiro Landed American League MVP

Posted November. 22, 2001 09:25,   


As Japanese-born hitter Suzuki Ichiro (28, Seattle Mariners) was announced as the American League MVP award winner, many people heaved a sigh inside the voting hall at New York yesterday.

Even though Ichiro is a `baseball genius` who had won 7th consecutive batting title with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan`s Pacific League, nobody could anticipated that he would become only the second player ever to win Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors in the same season, joining Fred Lynn of the Boston Red Sox (1975) in the exclusive club.

Despite Ichiro led the AL in average (0.350), hits (242) and stolen bases (56), he has been actually overshadowed by slugger Jason Giambi (Oakland Athletics) and his teammate Bret Boone in the power-preferred modern baseball. In fact, the ESPN sports channel which prepared the special program about Giambi, had to change the program in a hurry, and published a column titled `Giambi was MVP` in their website. Giambi who won the titles of slugging percentage (0.660) and on-base percentage (0.477) exceeded Ichiro even by 0.300 in OPS (slugging percentage plus on-base percentage).

According to the vote total chart, Ichiro earned the most first-place votes. Ichiro won 11 first-place votes, but fell behind Giambi (8 first-place votes and 11 second-place votes) in the second-place votes (10) and won little votes under third-place.

But both winner and loser assented to the result without any regret.

Ichiro said, "I didn`t expect that I would be the one to win. I had won three times in Japan, but there`s no way to compare the MVPs in the two countries."

Last year`s MVP Giambi said, "I`m not disappointed at the result, because I lost to Ichiro who showed the excellent performance throughout the season."

Meanwhile, as Ichiro was voted as the MVP, the Japanese fans were thrown into a state of feverish excitement and the Japanese Prime Minister sent a congratulatory message. The AP from Tokyo reported that Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro said that it was a tough race, but Ichiro made it at last.

Hwan-Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com