Former Vol Chase Headley finishes fifth in NL MVP voting

San Diego Padres' Chase Headley pops out to Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Monday, April 16, 2012, in Denver. Headley had three doubles as the Padres won 7-1. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – With his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards already under his belt and just a day after R.A. Dickey was named the National League Cy Young winner, Chase Headley finished off a strong haul of MLB postseason awards for former Tennessee players by finishing fifth in the National League Most Valuable Player race.

Headley finished fifth with 127 votes, tying Todd Helton for the highest finish in an MVP race by a former UT player as Helton also finished fifth following the 2000 campaign.

Headley established himself as one of the top all-around players in the National League this season, finishing with a .286 batting average, 31 home runs and 115 RBIs, which led the Senior Circuit. Headley also reached safely in 146 games this season, which tied for the sixth-most for any NL player since 1962, and was tabbed the NL Player of the Month in both August and September.

The 28-year-old led all Major League third basemen with 159 starts at the corner in 2012, the third-most starts at any position among National Leaguers. His 1,397.0 innings at third base led all of Major League Baseball. He committed just 10 errors in 424 total chances, the most total chances among all NL third basemen, for a .976 fielding percentage, second-best in the Majors among qualifying third basemen.

The Fountain, Colo., native has also been nominated for the 2012 GIBBY Award for “Breakout Hitter of the Year,” which will presented at the Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards extravaganza during the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Headley played at Tennessee from 2004-05, helping lead the Vols to the College World Series in his final year at Rocky Top. At UT, he hit .357 with 16 home runs and 88 RBIs in 110 career games. As a junior, he earned third-team All-America honors after winning the SEC batting title by hitting .387. He also led the league in walks (63), runs scored (82) and on-base percentage (.530).

His work in the classroom did not go unnoticed either as he became just the fifth Tennessee baseball player to earn first-team Academic All-America accolades.

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