Second baseman Ryne Sandberg, who led the Chicago Cubs to their first championship in 39 years, was named the Most Valuable Player in the National League today, gaining 22 of the 24 first-place votes cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Sandberg, who was ranked second by two voters, totaled 326 points in the balloting, easily outdistancing first baseman Keith Hernandez of the New York Mets, who finished with 195. Batting champion Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres was third in the balloting with 184 points. Hernandez and Gwynn each received one first-place vote.
Hernandez was the only other player named on every ballot, getting 12 votes for second place, two for third, five for fourth, three for fifth and one for seventh.
The BBWAA committee consists of two writers from each of the American League's 12 cities.
Chicago pitcher Rick Sutcliffe, who won the Cy Young Award earlier this month, finished fourth with 151 points and left fielder Gary Matthews, another member of the Cubs, was fifth with 70 points.
Rounding out the top 10 were St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Bruce Sutter (67 points), Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt (55 1/2), Houston Astros outfielder Jose Cruz (53), Atlanta Braves outfielder Dale Murphy (52 1/2) and Chicago catcher Jody Davis (49).
Murphy won the award the past two years.
Sandberg became the Cubs' first MVP in 25 years, since shortstop Ernie Banks won consecutive awards in 1958-59, and he was the first second baseman honored since Joe Morgan of the Cincinnati Reds won in 1975 and 1976. Other Cubs MVPs were catcher Gabby Hartnett in 1935, first baseman Phil Cavarretta in 1945 and outfielder Hank Sauer in 1952.
Sandberg, in only his third big league season, finished among the top five in six offensive categories. He led the league with 114 runs scored and tied for first with Philadelphia's Juan Samuel in triples with 19. Sandberg was second in hits with 200, third in doubles with 36, third in slugging percentage with .520 and fourth in batting average with .314.
He also hit 19 home runs, drove in 84 runs and stole 32 bases in 39 attempts.
Sandberg excelled in the field. Playing 156 games, he led NL second basemen in total chances (870), assists (550) and fielding percentage (.993). He had a 61-game streak without an error.
Hernandez, one of the league's best fielders, batted .311 with 15 home runs and 94 RBI for the Mets.
Gwynn led the league with a .351 batting average and 213 hits. He drove in 71 runs, scored 88 and stole 33 bases for the Padres.
The award completed a Cubs' sweep of the BBWAA's NL postseason awards. Sutcliffe won the Cy Young and Jim Frey was named Manager of the Year. Detroit swept the American League awards, with reliever Willie Hernandez the Cy Young and MVP winner and Sparky Anderson voted the Manager of the Year.