Tampa Bay's David Price edged out Detroit's Justin Verlander, with only four points separating them. Price was named first on 14 of the 28 ballots, second on 13 and third on one for 153 points. Verlander received 13 first-place votes, 13 seconds and two thirds for 149 points.
The other first-place vote went to Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney, who totaled 38 points to finish fifth.
Johnson received a fourth-place vote from John Hickey of the Seattle chapter, and fifth-place votes from SI.com's Mel Antonen, the Tampa Morning News' Martin Fennelly and the Dallas Morning News' Gerry Fraley.
In his first full season as a closer, Johnson set the Orioles' record with 51 saves in 54 chances heading into the playoffs. He became the 10th pitcher to record 50 or more saves since it became an official statistic in 1969. He's also the first with fewer than 60 strikeouts, according to Elias.
Johnson, who posted a 2.49 ERA in 71 games, walked 15 batters and struck out 41 in 68 2/3 innings. When he's right, he's got batters beating the ball into the ground with his heavy sinker.
Johnson held opponents to a .195 average in his last 26 regular-season games. He also produced one of the most important stats of the year that may have gone unnoticed. He was 20-for-21 in save chances and produced a 0.80 ERA against the American League East.
You want to hang with the big boys? Don't blow late-inning leads.
Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star Telegram cast a first-place vote for Rodney, who recorded 48 saves, second to Johnson, and posted a 0.60 ERA that was the lowest by a relief pitcher in major league history. He was named the AL's Comeback Player of the Year and Delivery Man of the Year.
The Rays picked up Rodney's option for 2013. Johnson is arbitration-eligible again this winter.
Here are the final results:
David Price, Rays, 153
Justin Verlander, Tigers, 149
Jered Weaver, Angels, 70
Felix Hernandez, Mariners, 41
Fernando Rodney, Rays, 38
Chris Sale, White Sox, 17
Jim Johnson, Orioles, 5
Matt Harrison, Rangers, 2
Yu Darvish, Rangers, 1
The four-point differential is the closest of any election since ballots permitted voting for more than one pitcher in 1970. Three pitchers were on ballots from that year through 2009, and five since 2010.
The only tie occurred between the Orioles' Mike Cuellar and the Tigers' Denny McLain in 1969, the last year when voters could select only one pitcher.