Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since 2004.

Jorge Posada's comment this past week that Alex Rodriguez shouldn't be allowed into the Hall of Fame because of his past steroid use made headlines.

Posada later walked the comment back, apologized to A-Rod and A-Rod accepted. Move along . . . nothing more to see here.

Except for another comment Posada made that no one asked him to walk back: That A-Rod's PED use may have cost Posada the 2003 AL MVP award.

"I was almost there," Posada said in a CBS interview while promoting his new book, "The Journey Home: My Life in Pinstripes.'' "You know what could've happened if . . . you know, it's tough. It's really tough."

Posada finished third in the 2003 MVP voting behind Rodriguez, then the Texas Rangers' shortstop, and Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado.

It was one of the most controversial MVP votes in recent memory, and not because of anyone's association with performance-enhancing drugs.

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It was controversial because Rodriguez played for a last-place club. The vote totals reflected a split among MLB's designated arbiters of value: the eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Rodriguez was only the second player in big-league history to be named MVP for a last-place club. The first was Andre Dawson of the 1987 Cubs.

Rodriguez was named first on only six ballots, the fewest for an MVP since Mickey Mantle in 1957. Delgado and Posada got five firsts each.

In fact, an AL record-tying 10 players received first-place votes in 2003 (it also happened in 1977, when Minnesota's Rod Carew won with 12 first-place votes).

The others to receive first-place votes in 2003 were Boston's David Ortiz with four, Toronto/Minnesota's Shannon Stewart with three, and five players with one each: Boston's Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra, Toronto's Vernon Wells, Oakland's Miguel Tejada and the Yankees' Jason Giambi.

Of the 10, half have since been linked to PEDs: Rodriguez, Ortiz, Ramirez, Tejada and Giambi. Of that group, only Ortiz continues to maintain he never used PEDs.

But back to Posada's original, little-noticed statement from last week: That A-Rod, by using PEDs in 2003, somehow took the MVP away from Posada.

Here are the vote totals and stats for the top three in 2003:

Rodriguez: 242 points, .298, 47 homers, 118 RBIs, .995 OPS, 8.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Rodriguez was tied for the major-league lead in home runs and won the AL Gold Glove. The Rangers went 71-91.

Delgado: 213 points, .302, 42 homers, 145 RBIs, 1.019 OPS, 5.9 WAR. Delgado led the majors in RBIs. The Blue Jays went 86-76.

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Posada: 194 points, .281, 30 homers, 101 RBIs, .922 OPS, 5.9 WAR. The Yankees went 101-61.

So why did Rodriguez win the MVP? For one thing, his defensive value was rated much higher than those of Delgado and Posada, as reflected by his large advantage in WAR.

By one advanced metric, Rodriguez was 12 runs better than Delgado and seven better than Posada on defense in 2003. That jibes with their reputations at the time: Rodriguez was a very good shortstop while Delgado and Posada were not top defenders at first base and catcher, respectively.

Also, Rodriguez was the only player named on all 28 ballots. Even a ninth-place vote, which A-Rod received one of, adds points to the final total.

Posada's implication that he somehow was robbed of the MVP would make more sense if it came from Delgado. Delgado had a tremendous season. The Blue Jays won 15 more games than the Rangers.

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Delgado, who was known for being outspoken, didn't hide his disgust at the results at the time.

"Obviously, I was expecting to get the award, and that wasn't the case," he said. "If they were going to pick somebody from a team that did not make it to the playoffs, I think it would have given me an edge. But that's what I get for thinking, I guess."

Rodriguez pocketed a $500,000 bonus on top of his $21-million salary.

"It means the world to me," he said at the time. "I'm so proud. It really is a validation to all the hard work and dedication."

After the season, A-Rod was traded to the Yankees, where he became Posada's teammate. And won two more MVP awards, in 2005 and 2007.

Posada finished sixth in 2007.