Chipper Jones wins NL MVP Award

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The Independent Online

Chipper Jones won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in a landslide today following a season in which he hit 45 homers and carried Atlanta to an eighth straight division title.

Chipper Jones won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in a landslide today following a season in which he hit 45 homers and carried Atlanta to an eighth straight division title.

Jones received 29 of 32 first-place votes and finished with 432 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He also received two second-place votes and one third.

"It's awfully hard to believe," Jones said. "To have this in your corner, to always be able to say you won an MVP, is a tremendous honor."

Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell was second with one first and 276 points, followed by Arizona third baseman Matt Williams, who had two firsts and 269 points. They were the only players picked on every ballot.

Cincinnati's Greg Vaughn was fourth with 121 points and St. Louis' Mark McGwire was fifth with 115, followed by the New York Mets' Robin Ventura (113), Mike Piazza (109) and Edgardo Alfonzo (88). Chicago's Sammy Sosa was ninth at 87.

"Matt Williams is one of the guys I try to be like. Just to be in the hunt with him is an honor in itself," Jones said. "I didn't have a real good first half. Baggy put together a full year."

The 27-year-old third baseman became the fifth Brave to win the award, joining Bob Elliott (1947), Hank Aaron (1957), Dale Murphy (1982 and '83) and Terry Pendleton (1991).

Jones hit .319 with 110 RBIs, 116 runs, 25 steals and 126 walks, He finished third in homers behind Mark McGwire (65) and Sammy Sosa (63) and third in walks; fourth in slugging percentage (.633), on-base percentage (.441) and total bases (359); seventh in runs; and 10th in batting.

After June 15, he hit 30 homers and drove in 79 runs.

"The guy picked a great time to get hot," teammate Brian Jordan said. "It's a special time in anyone's career when you have the sense you can do no wrong at the plate. He has a lot of confidence."

Jones gained momentum in September when he homered four times in Atlanta's three-game sweep of the New York Mets. When the Braves went to Shea Stadium the following week and returned in October for the NL Championship Series, Mets fans taunted him with slow chants of "Lar-ry. Lar-ry," his real first name.

"I think those four home runs were huge," Jones said. "I'd like to think my name was already on the map before that, but that kind of jump-started everything."

With Andres Galarraga out the entire year and Javy Lopez missing the last two months of the regular season and the postseason, Jones at times seemed like Atlanta's only offense.

"I didn't put any pressure on myself," Jones said. "I knew that teams were going to pitch me carefully and, in certain situations weren't going to let me beat them. You can't put any extra pressure on yourself and try to hit a three-run homer every time you walk to the plate. That's how slumps get started."

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