Four swings changed Chipper Jones’ season into a most-valuable-player year--four homers in a three-game September series against the New York Mets.
Jones, who hit 45 homers and carried Atlanta to an eighth division title in the ‘90s, won the National League MVP award in a landslide Wednesday after receiving 29 of 32 first-place votes and finishing with 432 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Assn. of America.
“It’s awfully hard to believe,” Jones said. “To have this in your corner, to always be able to say you won an MVP, is a tremendous honor.”
Houston Astro first baseman Jeff Bagwell was second with 276 points, followed by Arizona Diamondback third baseman Matt Williams with 269 points.
Jones, a 27-year-old third baseman, hit .319 with 110 runs batted in, 116 runs, 25 steals and 126 walks. After June 15, he hit 30 homers and drove in 79 runs.
“Most people who watched our team play know what a significant role he played in our success, especially when the season wore down and the pressure got great,” General Manager John Schuerholz said. “He showed he was a leader of this team and he had what it takes to be recognized as the MVP of the league.”
Raul Mondesi wanted out of Los Angeles, and former Blue Jay center fielder Devon White gave him some advice.
“Devon told me: ‘Go to Toronto. It’s a great city. You’ll love it there,’ ” Mondesi said Wednesday, 10 days after he was traded to Toronto for Shawn Green.
“They all told me: ‘If you’re going to be traded, go to Toronto,’ ” said Mondesi, who lists former Blue Jay slugger George Bell as his boyhood hero.
Mondesi, 28, says he’s determined to erase the memories of 1999, a season in which he slumped to a .253 average with 33 homers and 99 RBIs.
“He has the ability, in our estimation, to be a 40-40 man,” Toronto General Manager Gord Ash said.
Mondesi blamed last season’s slump on numerous distractions and his unhappiness with the Dodgers, who finished 77-85, 23 games behind Arizona in the NL West, despite baseball’s fourth-highest payroll at $76.6 million.
“I think, if I don’t have any problems and my mind is clear, I’m going to have a great year,” Mondesi said.
The Dodgers announced the reinstatement of outfielders Kevin Gibbs and pitchers Antonio Osuna and Carlos Perez from the disabled list and designated infielders Craig Counsell and Tripp Cromer for assignment. . . . The Baltimore Orioles began revamping their bullpen by signing right-hander Mike Trombley, 32, to a $7.75-million, three-year contract. . . . The Colorado Rockies swapped pitchers with Milwaukee, sending right-hander Curtis Leskanic, 31, to the Brewers for left-hander Mike Myers, 30. . . . Catcher Brook Fordyce, 29, and the Chicago White Sox agreed to a $1.5-million, two-year contract. Fordyce made $230,000 last season.