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11/23/10 3:10 PM EST

Bautista's big year good for fourth in MVP race

Blue Jays slugger led Major Leagues with 54 home runs in 2010

Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista's 2010 breakout season resulted in a fourth-place finish in the American League Most Valuable Player Award voting, which was announced Tuesday afternoon.

The 30-year-old Bautista received one first-place vote and four third-place votes en route to 165 points in balloting from the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The award is voted on by two BBWAA members from each AL city.

Texas' Josh Hamilton was crowned the MVP after receiving 22 of the possible 28 first-place votes and 358 points. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera finished second, with five first-place votes and 262 points, while New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano finished third with 229 points.

It's the first MVP award of Hamilton's career, and he becomes the first Rangers player to capture the award since Alex Rodriguez won in 2003.

Hamilton finished the 2010 season with a .359 batting average, 32 home runs and 100 RBIs to lead the way for the AL champion Rangers. He also led the Majors in batting average, slugging percentage (.633) and OPS (1.044).

2010 AL MVP vote leaders
Player 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Josh Hamilton, TEX 22 4 358
Miguel Cabrera, DET 5 11 10 262
Robinson Cano, NYY 12 12 229
Jose Bautista, TOR 1 4 165
Paul Konerko, CWS 130
Complete vote totals

Bautista's fourth-place finish comes after he recorded a league-high 54 home runs and 351 total bases in 2010. His historic season broke the Blue Jays' franchise record for home runs, which previously was set by outfielder George Bell (47) during his 1987 MVP campaign.

Bautista's case for MVP likely was hurt by his .260 batting average. An MVP award has never gone to a position player with that low of a mark. Another detriment to Bautista's cause was that Toronto finished fourth in the AL East and was never really in playoff contention.

While Bautista finished well back in the AL voting, he can take solace in the fact that last month he won the AL Hank Aaron Award, which is given to the top offensive performer in each league.

Impressive improvements
Jose Bautista broke Davey Johnson's record for the biggest increase in home runs over the previous season
Player First Second Gain
Jose Bautista 13 (2009) 54 (2010) 41
Davey Johnson 5 (1972) 43 (1973) 38
Brady Anderson 16 (1995) 50 (1996) 34
Greg Vaughn 18 (1997) 50 (1998) 32
Lou Gehrig 16 (1926) 47 (1927) 31
Sammy Sosa 36 (1997) 66 (1998) 30
Courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau

The native of the Dominican Republic finished among the league leaders in most offensive categories. He ranked third in the AL in RBIs (124), slugging percentage (.633) and OPS (.995). He also led the league with 92 extra-base hits and ranked second in walks (100).

Bautista was arguably the league's best offensive story this year. He entered the 2010 campaign with 59 career home runs and nearly doubled that total in one season.

His 41 home run improvement over 2009 set a Major League record for the largest single-season increase in history. The previous mark had been set by former Atlanta Braves infielder Davey Johnson, who upped his total by 38, going from five to 43 during the 1972-73 seasons.

Bautista also was a standout in the field. He tied for second in the Majors with 12 outfield assists despite playing 48 games at third base. He is considered a plus defender at both positions and previously stated he would be willing to play at either spot next year to accommodate an addition to the Blue Jays' roster.

Toronto now faces a tough decision about what to do with its top offensive performer. Bautista has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining before he becomes a free agent.

He is expected to receive a large increase over the $2.4 million he made in 2010 and general manager Alex Anthopoulos eventually will have to decide whether to sign the slugger to an extension or allow him to play out the remainder of his contract in Toronto before testing free agency next season.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.