NEW YORK -- Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies was voted the National League's Most Valuable Player on Monday after leading the majors in home runs and RBI, beating out the St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols for the honor.
Howard received 20 first-place votes and 12 seconds for 388 points in balloting by a panel of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Pujols got 12 firsts, 19 seconds and one third for 347 points.
"It's definitely a relief. It's a good birthday present," said Howard, who turned 27 Sunday.
Howard, the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year, had 58 homers and 149 RBI while batting .313. He had the most homers in the major leagues since Barry Bonds hit a record 73 in 2001.
He set Phillies records for home runs and RBI, producing the highest totals in those categories in big league history for a second-year player. Twenty-three of Howard's homers put the Phillies ahead and five tied games. The Phillies went 32-18 in games in which he homered.
Howard didn't make it up to the major leagues for good until July 1, 2005, when Jim Thome went on the disabled list.
"It's been a fun ride," he said. "You can't really just sit there and kind of dwell on what's gone on in the past and all that kind of stuff and what's going to happen as far as being traded or what my future was with the Phillies. The only thing I could have done was just go out and play and let everything else just kind of sort itself out."
Howard may have been helped by Philadelphia's surprising second-half push. He hit .355 with 30 homers and 78 RBI in second half as the Phillies fell three wins short of the NL wild-card berth.
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