Dodgers first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger and Angels outfielder Mike Trout were named the Most Valuable Players of their respective leagues, as announced by the Baseball Writers Association Of America. Full breakdowns of both votes are available on the BBWAA website (National League, American League).
Bellinger received 19 of 30 first-place votes. Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich made a spirited defense of his 2018 MVP Award by finishing second in the balloting, picking up 10 first-place votes and 18 seconds. Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon received the final first-place vote, and his third-place spot in the balloting represents his highest finish in the MVP race following a fifth-place showing in 2014 and a sixth-place result in 2017.
The NL MVP Award adds to an already stuffed trophy case for Bellinger over his three MLB seasons, as the 24-year-old also won Rookie Of The Year honors in 2017, has two All-Star appearances to his name, and won his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards earlier this fall. Bellinger hit .305/.406/.629 over 661 PA for the Dodgers, hitting 47 homers and leading all players in bWAR (9.0), while tying for third in fWAR (7.8) with Yelich.
It was expected to be a tight vote between Bellinger and Yelich, with Yelich having the slightly superior hitting numbers despite being limited to 580 PA and 130 games due to recurring back soreness throughout the year, and a fractured kneecap that ended his season on September 10. That late injury could have swung the vote in Bellinger’s favor, and the Dodgers star was also aided by a superlative defensive performance. Bellinger had a cumulative 22 Defensive Runs Saved, +13.7 UZR/150, and +7 Outs Above Average as an outfielder, mostly working in right field but also playing 170 2/3 above-average innings in center. Bellinger also saw some time at first base, adding to his versatility and making him the most dangerous of the Dodgers’ several multi-position weapons.
Trout was himself hampered by a late-season injury, as he didn’t play after September 7 due to a foot injury that required minor surgery. Still, that didn’t stop the Angels superstar from winning the third AL MVP Award of what is already one of the great careers in baseball history. Trout hit a career-best 45 homers while also batting .291/.438/.645 over 600 PA — his on-base percentage led the majors, while his slugging percentage and OPS led the American League. Trout also sat atop the fWAR leaderboard (8.6) while finishing third in bWAR (8.3).
It was a narrow victory for Trout over Astros infielder Alex Bregman, as the two players finished in the top two spots on all 30 ballots, with Trout holding the 17-13 edge in first-place votes. Bregman supporters undoubtedly pointed to the fact that Bregman hit .296/.423/.592 with 41 homers and finished second in both fWAR (8.5) and bWAR (8.4), while also playing in 156 games for a first-place team while Trout’s Angels again missed the postseason. The American League West had a clean sweep on the top three, as Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien finished third in the balloting (22 third-place votes).
The award continues Trout’s astonishing track record in AL MVP voting, as he now has three wins, four runners-up, and a fourth place (in an injury-shortened 2017) over his eight full seasons as a Major League player. Trout becomes just the tenth player in MLB history to win at least three MVP Awards, and since he is showing no signs of slowing down at age 28, he has to be considered a threat to catch or surpass the only player with four or more MVP trophies — seven-time NL MVP Barry Bonds.