Upton places D-backs' success above MVP

Upton places D-backs' success above MVP

Upton places D-backs' success above MVP
PHOENIX -- For Justin Upton, the 2011 season was just a starting point both individually and for his D-backs.

The 24-year-old was the offensive leader for a team that made a stunning 29-game turnaround to capture the National League West.

To Upton, that was more important than where he would wind up in the NL Most Valuable Player Award voting, but he was not unhappy with fourth place behind Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp and Prince Fielder.

"The thing that makes me happier than my performance is that my team had success," Upton said. "We have something to build on now for next year. The guys helped me all year long and if I had won the MVP it would have been because of my teammates."

Upton received one first-place vote, eight third-place votes, 11 fourth-place votes, six fifth-place votes, three sixth-place votes and one seventh-, eighth- and 10th-place vote.

Playing in a career-best 159 games, Upton hit .289 with 31 homers and 88 RBIs to go along with 21 stolen bases.

"The most important thing was the number of games I was able to play in," Upton said. "Being able to contribute every day to the team was my goal."

Upton said he has already turned the page on 2011 and has started preparing for 2012.

"I can only get better if I continue to work hard," he said. "And that's what I'm going to do."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @dbackswriter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.