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New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui narrowly failed to capture the American League Rookie of the Year award on Monday, placing second behind Kansas City Royals shortstop Angel Berroa from the Dominican Republic.

Matsui, who batted .287 with 16 homers and 106 RBIs, missed the top rookie honors by four points, although the 29-year-old Japanese had been the front-runner to win the award due to his international acclaim and pivotal role of helping the Yankees reach the World Series this year.

“I have no regret because I did my best (this season),” Matsui said. “It could have been (either Berroa or me). He is an excellent shortstop.

“I am glad he received the award,” Matsui said of Berroa. He added, “I guess I wasn’t lucky enough” (to receive the rookie honors either in Japan or the major leagues).

Berroa, 25, garnered 88 votes, compared with 84 votes for Matsui, formerly of the Yomiuri Giants. It was the closest voting since the current 5-3-1 voting system — 5 points for each first-place vote, 3 points for second and 1 point for third — was introduced in 1980.

Berroa, the winner of the 2003 Players Choice Award, hit .287 with 17 homers, 73 RBIs and 21 steals.

A total of 28 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America selected from the 14 AL chapters cast their votes for AL rookies.

Matsui played in all 163 games for the New York club and was second in RBIs on the team behind Jason Giambi.

Had Matsui won the accolade, he would have become the fourth Japanese player following Hideo Nomo, Kazuhiro Sasaki and Ichiro Suzuki to receive the Rookie honor.

The National League Rookie of the Year award went to Dontrelle Willis, 21, of the World Series champion Florida Marlins, who ended the season with a 14-6 win-loss record and a 3.30 ERA. He handily beat Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Scott Podsednik and other contenders.

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