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' 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, left-handed 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.
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