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A third name adds intrigue to NL MVP poll

@RichardJustice
September 10, 2019

The National League Most Valuable Player race has a third name in the mix: Anthony Rendon. The Nationals third baseman, who is having his finest season, is the first player not named Cody Bellinger or Christian Yelich to receive a first-place vote in the sixth MLB.com MVP poll. Bellinger and

The National League Most Valuable Player race has a third name in the mix: Anthony Rendon.

The Nationals third baseman, who is having his finest season, is the first player not named Cody Bellinger or Christian Yelich to receive a first-place vote in the sixth MLB.com MVP poll.

Bellinger and Yelich continue to hold the top two spots as they have in the other five polls. But unlike the American League, where Mike Trout got all 38 first-place votes and Alex Bregman got all the second-place votes, the NL race is tightening.

Bellinger got 22 first-place votes and remains the front-runner for his first MVP Award. Yelich, last season’s NL MVP, got 11 first-place votes.

Rendon got the other five first-place votes thanks to a season in which he leads the NL with 41 doubles and a .337 batting average through Monday.

As for Trout, his 45 home runs lead the AL and are the ninth-most in AL history for a center fielder (and the most since Ken Griffey Jr. hit 56 in 1998).

Trout’s next home run will tie him with Joe DiMaggio, who hit 46 in 1937. Trout has reached the 100-run, 100-walk, 100-RBI threshold for the second time in his career, and he’s only the 15th player to do it twice before his age-28 season.

For this poll, MLB.com reporters were asked to rank their top three choices in each league, with five points awarded for a first-place vote, three for second and one for third.

Here’s a breakdown of the leaders:

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Cody Bellinger (22 first-place votes) -- He has 17 of his 44 homers and a 1.000 OPS against left-handed pitching. Last season, he had six home runs and a .681 OPS against lefties. His 25 home runs at home are tied with Gil Hodges (1954) and Duke Snider (1956) for the most in Dodgers history. Bellinger hit his 100th career home run on Aug. 2 in his 401st game. That broke the team record of 522 games by Mike Piazza.

Christian Yelich (11 first-place votes) -- In his MVP encore season, Yelich has hit more home runs, raised his batting average and OPS and was the NL’s top All-Star vote-getter. He leads the NL in OBP, OPS, total bases and OPS+. He already has career highs in home runs (44) and stolen bases (30).

Anthony Rendon (5 first-place votes) -- He leads the NL with a .382 batting average since the All-Star break and is second with a 1.116 OPS. He enters play Tuesday having reached base in 24 straight games with a .417 batting average, 11 doubles and seven home runs.

Others receiving votes: Ketel Marte, Freddie Freeman.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Mike Trout (38 first-place votes) -- He’s on the verge of passing Derek Jeter on the career Wins Above Replacement list as calculated by BaseballReference.com. Trout is at 72.3, Jeter 72.4. Trout is the fifth player to score 100 runs in seven different seasons before his age-27 season. Only 24 players in AL history have reached the mark seven times. He’s the ninth AL player with four 100-walk seasons before his age-28 season.

Alex Bregman (0 first-place votes) -- In his third full Major League season, he has emerged as the best offensive player on a team headed for a third straight 100-win season. His 7.0 fWAR and .417 on-base percentage are second only to Trout in the AL, and he’s the only other player besides Trout in the 100-run, 100-walk, 100-RBI club. His .355 batting average since the All-Star break is the highest in the AL.

Xander Bogaerts (0 first-place votes) -- He got his 1,000th career hit over the weekend and was only the third Red Sox player to do it before turning 27 years old. Hall of Famers Tris Speaker and Bobby Doerr were the others. He’s the 33rd player who debuted since 1900 to have at least 100 homers and 1,000 hits before turning 27. Alex Rodriguez is the only other shortstop with a 30-homer, 30-double season. David Ortiz is the only Red Sox player to do it.

Others receiving votes: Matt Chapman, Rafael Devers, DJ LeMahieu, Michael Brantley.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.