Pujols wins NL MVP unanimously

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No drama this time, as Albert Pujols took home all 32 first-place votes to be named the National League’s MVP by the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday. Pujols is the first unanimous MVP selection in either league since Barry Bonds in 2002.

Hanley Ramirez finished runner-up while Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Troy Tulowitzki, Andre Either and even Derrek Lee received second-place votes, but it wasn’t really all that close. This was Pujols’ year.

Click here to see a full breakdown of the results (Where’s Chase Utley, and who the heck gave Jeremy Affeldt a tenth-place vote?).

The repeat distinction is well-deserved for Pujols, who led the National
League in on-base percentage (.443), slugging
percentage (.658) and OPS (1.101), while also besting the National
League field in home runs (47) and runs scored (124). Pujols was a
monster in nearly every situation imaginable in 2009, but he
really cleaned up with the bases loaded, blasting five grand slams and
driving in 35 runs. The most incredible part? He did all that damage in
17 at-bats.

Sometimes we’re so distracted by his absurd production with the bat
that we forget the little things he does on the diamond. Pujols didn’t
win a Gold Glove this season, but he probably should have. He even led
his team with 16 stolen bases, tying a career-high.

We’re not giving away an MVP of the decade or anything, but if we did,
Pujols would wear the crown. Pujols, now a three-time MVP winner, didn’t even make his debut until 2001, but
he leads all major leaguers this decade with a .334 batting average,
366 home runs and 1,112 RBI. And to think he gave everyone else a year head-start.

As we close the book on yet another award season, a few voters went
rogue — some with compelling arguments, others, no
so much — but it can’t be denied that the BBWAA got the major awards
right for a second straight year. With this year’s Cy Young and MVP selections, we
have four of the most elite, exciting treasures of our game. It’s a
great time to be a baseball fan.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.