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Cody Bellinger 1st Dodger to win NL MVP since Clayton Kershaw

Cody Bellinger captured his first National League Most Valuable Player Award on Thursday, beating defending champion Christian Yelich and eventual World Series champion Anthony Rendon.

Bellinger was selected first on 19 of 30 ballots and second on 10 more, beating out Yelich, the runner-up who was named first on 10 ballots and second on 18. Rendon was named first and second on one ballot each.

Bellinger, a .305/.406/.629 hitter with 47 home runs and 15 stolen bases, is the first Los Angeles Dodgers player to win the MVP since Clayton Kershaw in 2014, and the first position player to do so since Kirk Gibson in 1988.

Bellinger and Yelich finished tied in FanGraphs wins above replacement with 7.8 apiece. Yelich posted slightly better offensive numbers, batting .329/.429/.671 with 44 home runs and 30 stolen bases, but Bellinger was the better defensive player, winning a Gold Glove in right field while also displaying Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base and center field.

Yelich also played in 26 fewer games, largely because of a fractured kneecap that put him on the shelf for the season’s final three weeks.

Bellinger, who has concluded only three seasons, joined Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe as the only players in Dodgers history to be named the Rookie of the Year and the MVP. His exploits came immediately after a relatively down season in 2018 that saw him famously sit against left-handed starters throughout the postseason.

Rendon, now a free agent, batted .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs and a major league-leading 126 RBIs. In October, while the Washington Nationals marched toward the first World Series championship in franchise history, Rendon posted a 1.003 OPS.

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