Outfielder Willie McGee, the National League batting champion who helped lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a league title, today was named the NL's most valuable player by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
McGee received 14 first-place votes from a 24-writer panel, two from each league city, and finished with 280 points.
"It's an award that shows I put everything together, I'm very pleased" said McGee on a conference-call hookup to St. Louis' Busch Stadium from his home in Richmond, Calif. "I felt I had a good season. I felt I did my job. I'm satisfied -- for this year."
Outfielder Dave Parker of the Cincinnati Reds, who led the league with 125 runs batted in, finished second with six firsts and 220 points. Outfielder Pedro Guerrero of the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers was third with three firsts and 208 points and pitcher Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets, who won the Cy Young Award last week, finished fourth with one first and 162 points.
Second baseman Tommy Herr of St. Louis, catcher Gary Carter of New York, outfielder Dale Murphy of Atlanta, first baseman Keith Hernandez of New York, pitcher John Tudor of St. Louis and first baseman Jack Clark of St. Louis completed the top 10.
McGee, Parker and Guerrero were the only players listed on all 24 ballots. Voters were asked to list 10 players on their ballots, with points assigned 14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.
McGee became the ninth Cardinals player to win the NL batting title, hitting .353 last season. It was the highest NL average ever for a switch hitter, topping the mark of .348 by Frankie Frisch of the New York Giants in 1923 and matched by Pete Rose in 1969. Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees set the major league mark in 1957 when he batted .365.
Batting second in the lineup, McGee led the league with 216 hits and 18 triples. He scored 114 runs, third in the league, and, with rookie leadoff man Vince Coleman, served as the catalyst for an offense that produced 311 stolen bases. McGee stole 56 bases, third-best in the league.
McGee felt he improved his game this season in two major areas. "I felt I had to improve batting right-handed for one, and I felt I had to be more disciplined at the plate for two. Those were the keys," he said.
The Cardinals acquired McGee, a center fielder, from the New York Yankees for pitcher Bob Sykes on Oct. 21, 1981.
"I read about the trade in the small type in the newspaper," McGee recalled. "I called the club a few days later and I said, 'I think I belong to you. What are your plans for me?' "
McGee started the 1982 season at Louisville of the American Association and was called up in May to replace injured David Green. He won a regular job, batting .296 and helping the Cardinals win the world championship. In the Series, he set a record for rookies by hitting two home runs in Game 3. His 24 putouts in the seven games tied a record.
McGee became the 14th Cardinals MVP winner since the BBWAA began the award in 1931. The last one was Hernandez, now with the New York Mets, who shared the award in 1979 with Pittsburgh's Willie Stargell.