Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout has overcome injury and tragedy to win his third AL MVP award.
Trout got 17 of 30 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America revealed Thursday night. Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros was second with the other 13 first-place votes. That duo combined for all the first- and second-place votes.
Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger made it an LA sweep, beating out the Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yelich for the NL prize. Bellinger got 19 of 30 first-place votes, Yelich got 10, and Washington’s Anthony Rendon got one while finishing third. Yelich won the award last year.
Trout had season-ending foot surgery in September. The outfielder played just 134 games but still set a career high with 45 homers. He batted .291, led the majors with a .438 on-base percentage, and drove in 104 runs. It was just enough to avoid another second-place finish — he’s tied for the record with four runner-ups.
The 28-year-old shined even following the death of close friend and teammate Tyler Skaggs on July 1. Trout smashed a 454-foot homer wearing Skaggs’s No. 45 in the team’s first game back, when LA pitchers threw a combined no-hitter.
Trout is the 10th three-time MVP and joins an elite group: Barry Bonds, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and Mike Schmidt. Bonds is the only player with more than three MVPs — he won seven.
Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room before the start of a series against the Texas Rangers. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office said the 27-year-old died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his body. MLB is cooperating with a federal investigation after Eric Kay, a 24-year employee of the Angels’ PR department, told the Drug Enforcement Agency he had provided opioids to Skaggs and used them with the pitcher for years, according to ESPN.
Trout played through the pain of that loss and the lingering foot issue, which hampered him for about a month before he chose to have surgery.
“What an emotional last few months,” he said.
The 24-year-old Bellinger and his loose, lefthanded swing launched 47 home runs with a .305 average, 115 RBIs, and a 1.035 OPS. He was the best player on the NL’s top team in the regular season, propelling Los Angeles to 106 wins. He’s the 10th different Dodgers player to win MVP and first since Clayton Kershaw in 2014.
Bellinger teared up after learning he’d been chosen, getting emotional especially after hugging his father — former big leaguer Clay Bellinger.
“It’s what you dream of, man,” Cody said.
Advanced metrics showed both races to be tight. Bellinger and Yelich tied for the NL lead with 7.8 wins above replacement (WAR) as measured by Fangraphs, and Trout edged Bregman, 8.6 to 8.5. Bregman topped Trout, 8.4 to 8.3, by Baseball-Reference’s WAR, while Bellinger bested Yelich, 9.0 to 7.1, mostly due to stronger defensive ratings.
Bellinger won the Gold Glove Award in right field but also played center and first base. He’s the first Dodgers position player to win MVP since Kirk Gibson in 1988.
Bogaerts fifth in AL
Xander Bogaerts finished fifth in American League MVP Award voting, the highest of his career. The Red Sox shortstop was 13th in 2013.
Bogaerts hit .309 with a career-high 33 homers and 117 RBIs.
Bogaerts tied Nomar Garciaparra for the most extra-base hits in a season by a Red Sox shortstop (85). Garciaparra did it in 1997 and 2002.
Bogaerts’s 117 RBIs were the most in a season by a Red Sox shortstop since Garciaparra had 120 in 2002.
Bogaerts was just the third shortstop in MLB history with at least a .300 batting average, 85 extra-base hits, and 115-plus RBIs.
Bogaerts finished behind the Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu, who pulled in 10 fourth-place votes to Bogaerts’s six.
Mookie Betts was eighth, Rafael Devers 12th, and J.D. Martinez was tied for 21st in AL voting.
Odorizzi stays with Twins
Pitcher Jake Odorizzi accepted a $17.8 million qualifying offer to stay with the Twins and first baseman José Abreu took the same amount to remain with the White Sox as general managers headed home from Scottsdale, Ariz., Thursday following their four-day annual meeting.
Using the threat to accept San Francisco’s offer as leverage, reliever Will Smith became the first of the 168 free agents to switch teams, agreeing to a $40 million, three-year contract with the Braves.
Just 10 free agents received the offers on Nov. 4, and their former teams will receive draft-pick compensation if they sign elsewhere before the amateur draft in June. Players who did not accept included pitchers Gerrit Cole (Houston), Stephen Strasburg (Washington), Zack Wheeler (Mets), and Madison Bumgarner (San Francisco), along with third basemen Rendon (Washington) and Josh Donaldson (Atlanta), and outfielder Marcell Ozuna (St. Louis).