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Mookie falls short of MVP history ... for now

@kengurnick
November 12, 2020

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts finished second in voting for the National League Most Valuable Player Award on Thursday, missing out on joining the late Frank Robinson as the only players to win MVPs in both leagues. Betts received two first-place votes and a total of 268

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts finished second in voting for the National League Most Valuable Player Award on Thursday, missing out on joining the late Frank Robinson as the only players to win MVPs in both leagues.

Betts received two first-place votes and a total of 268 points, being distanced by Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman, who received the other 28 first-place votes and a total of 410 points. Last week, Betts won his fifth consecutive Gold Glove Award and his fourth Silver Slugger Award.

Vote totals for 2020 MVP Awards

San Diego’s Manny Machado finished third in the voting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, which was announced on MLB Network. The only other Dodger to receive votes was shortstop Corey Seager, who finished ninth. The last Dodger to finish runner-up for MVP was Matt Kemp, who was second to Ryan Braun in 2011.

All-time MVP Award winners

Betts, acquired from Boston with David Price just before Spring Training opened, won the 2018 MVP Award with the Red Sox. He signed a 12-year, $365 million contract extension with the Dodgers before play resumed this summer, and he proceeded to rank among league leaders in hits (64, T-10th), runs (47, fourth), batting average (.292, 16th), OBP (.366, T-16th), SLG (.562, 13th), steals (10, T-fourth) and homers (16, T-third).

Betts led MLB in bWAR this season. Defensively, he was spectacular, making difficult catches look easy, showing off his powerful arm when runners dared him and cutting off balls to prevent extra bases. He finished second in the NL in Defensive Runs Saved. In the clubhouse, Betts challenged his new teammates in Spring Training to raise their game and provided invaluable leadership to young players.

Complete 2020 MLB awards coverage

Perhaps Betts' greatest baseball skill is baserunning -- not just stealing bases, but his instinctive ability to advance on balls in the dirt, contact plays and fielder missteps.

Although postseason play does not count in award voting, which is conducted before any playoff games are played, Betts impacted just about every game the Dodgers played on their final march to a title.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.