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V-Mart runner-up for AL MVP as voters don't dismiss DH

While Trout wins unanimously, Tigers cleanup hitter earns 16 second-place votes
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- For the first time since 2010, the American League Most Valuable Player Award winner is not a Detroit Tiger. Victor Martinez came about as close as any designated hitter ever has.

While Angels center fielder Mike Trout finally beat out a Detroiter for AL MVP honors, winning the vote unanimously, Martinez finished as the runner-up. The DH received 16 of the 30 second-place votes, twice as many as third-place finisher Michael Brantley of the Indians.

DETROIT -- For the first time since 2010, the American League Most Valuable Player Award winner is not a Detroit Tiger. Victor Martinez came about as close as any designated hitter ever has.

While Angels center fielder Mike Trout finally beat out a Detroiter for AL MVP honors, winning the vote unanimously, Martinez finished as the runner-up. The DH received 16 of the 30 second-place votes, twice as many as third-place finisher Michael Brantley of the Indians.

It's the best AL MVP finish by a DH since David Ortiz finished runner-up to Alex Rodriguez in 2005. In that case, Ortiz received 11 first-place votes in a close race.

This year, there was little question about Trout's status as the favorite. The question was how well Martinez would finish, and whether the DH status would sink him. For the most part, it did not.

Those who didn't vote Martinez second still generally kept him high on their ballot. Four third-place votes went to him, as did three votes each for fourth and fifth place. Two voters placed him sixth on their ballot, as did one for seventh.

One voter, David Coleman of the Fort Bend (Texas) Herald, left Martinez completely off the ballot.

Two-time AL MVP Award winner Miguel Cabrera lost his crown, but he still finished ninth after an injury-hampered season. The Tigers slugger received one second-place vote.

Martinez doesn't have to worry about his perceived value too much. He'll be able to officially celebrate a four-year, $68 million contract shortly that will keep him in a Tigers uniform through age 39. He was that valuable to Detroit.

Video: Beck reacts to V-Mart's reported re-up with Tigers

For someone who essentially had to do more than a positional player to garner serious consideration, Martinez earned a fair look by becoming the toughest out in the league. He led the Major Leagues with a .974 OPS, and topped the AL with a .409 on-base percentage. His .335 batting average finished second only to Houston's Jose Altuve among AL hitters. Martinez's .565 slugging percentage topped even AL home run champion Nelson Cruz, thanks to 33 doubles along with his 32 home runs.

Martinez spent much of the year with his homer and strikeout totals in a neck-and-neck battle. He couldn't keep the strikeout total lower by the end, but he became the first big league hitter since Barry Bonds in 2004 to hit 30 or more home runs with 42 or fewer strikeouts in the same season.

Add in the hit totals, and Martinez is the second player in the last quarter-century to do the aforementioned with 180 or more hits as well. Gary Sheffield was the last to do it in 1992.

Add in the walk totals, and Martinez is the first player in 60 years -- and the 17th player since 1901 -- with 180 or more hits, 30 or more home runs, 70 or more walks and 42 or fewer strikeouts in a season. Stan Musial was the last to do it in 1954, his fifth such season.

Martinez's 5.3 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball-Reference, was the highest by a primary DH since Ortiz in 2007. Replacing Martinez would have been impossible for the Tigers to still win a fourth consecutive AL Central title.

The other DH seasons by which Martinez's 2014 campaign will be compared all came close to MVP honors. Besides Ortiz, Frank Thomas -- a back-to-back AL MVP as a first baseman in 1993 and '94 -- finished runner-up as a DH in 2000, earning 10 first-place votes to 14 for Jason Giambi. Paul Molitor finished a distant second to Thomas in 1993.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

Detroit Tigers, Victor Martinez