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Bourn runs away with Astros MVP

Bourn runs away with Astros MVP

HOUSTON -- Center fielder Michael Bourn raced his way into the hearts of Astros fans last season, taking advantage of his streak-of-lightning speed to lead the National League in stolen bases, infield hits and bunt hits, and ranking second in triples.

But Bourn's impact on the Astros' 2009 season was much greater than just his speed at the top of the lineup.

Bourn, who hit just .229 during his first season with the Astros in 2008, blossomed into the player the Astros hoped they were getting when they sent Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett to the Phillies in a five-player trade after the 2007 season.

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Bourn hit .285 with a .354 on-base percentage, stole 61 bases and set career highs in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, RBIs and walks, and he played a Gold Glove-caliber center field. As a result, he was named the team's Most Valuable Player by the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

He's the fourth Houston center fielder to win team MVP, joining Lance Berkman (2002), Cesar Cedeno (1972) and Jimmy Wynn (1965).

"I think he's clearly the best center fielder we've had defensively in a long, long time," Astros president of baseball operations Tal Smith said in September. "Cedeno was really something, but Michael has been absolutely outstanding. He's everything we had hoped for and more. I think he responded quickly in what is really his second full season in the Major Leagues [as a starter]."

In addition to Bourn, the BBWAA voted left-hander Wandy Rodriguez as the team's Pitcher of the Year and reliever Jeff Fulchino as Rookie of the Year. Veteran right-hander Brian Moehler won the Darryl Kile Good Guy Award, which is given to a player who exhibits good character.

Also, Berkman won the Russell Achievement Award and Washington Nationals outfielder Adam Dunn was named the Houston-area Major League Player of the Year. Dunn played high school baseball at New Caney High School, just north of Houston. Former Houston Post sports editor and Astros beat writer -- and Houston Baseball Dinner organizer -- Ivy McLemore won the Fred Hartman Award for Long and Meritorious Service.

Rodriguez set career highs in wins (14), innings pitched (205 2/3) and strikeouts (193) while posting a career-best 3.02 ERA. He was eighth in the NL in ERA, tied for 12th in wins and tied for eighth in strikeouts. Among left-handers, he was tied for first in strikeouts and had the third-best ERA.

Fulchino, 29, went 6-4 with a 3.40 ERA in 61 relief appearances and led all Houston relievers in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts. He was tied for second in the NL in relief wins and ranked third in innings pitched in his first full year of Major League service time.

The winners will be recognized at the annual Houston Baseball Dinner on Jan. 21 at the Hilton Americas Hotel.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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