New York Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki won his fourth Most Valuable Player Award, just like Barry Bonds. Only the first three came in Japan.
"There's no way I can compare the MVPs in the two countries," the 28-year-old Suzuki said Tuesday after he became only the second rookie MVP in the major leagues. "No matter how many times I won MVP in Japan, that does not mean I could play with total confidence."
Suzuki, who came to the major leagues after nine seasons in Japan's Pacific League, received 11 first-place votes and 289 points to win the American League MVP in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Jason Giambi, last year's AL MVP, got eight first-place votes and 281 points. It was the tightest MVP race since Juan Gonzalez defeated Alex Rodriguez 290-287 for the 1996 AL award and tied for the 10th-narrowest victory margin since MVP awards began in 1931.
"I didn't expect I would be the one to win," Suzuki said through a translator.
The only other rookie to win the MVP was Boston's Fred Lynn in 1975. Last week, Suzuki received 27 of 28 first-place votes in balloting for AL Rookie of the Year.