MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton elevated his game in 2017, and now he stands alone atop the National League.
Stanton won the NL Most Valuable Player Award as voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) on Thursday night. The four-time All-Star right fielder is the first player in Marlins history to claim the NL's highest honor.
:: NL Most Valuable Player voting totals ::
In the final tallies, Stanton won the fourth-closest vote in MVP history. With 302 points, the slugger finished just two ahead of Cincinnati's Joey Votto, with Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt placing third with 239.
• Previous NL MVP Award winners
"I thought it was going to be close," Stanton said. "I didn't know what to think, really. I thought [Nolan] Arenado was going to be up there, too. The fact that he wasn't made me more unsure if I was going to get it. It was really a surprise. I will always think positive, but it was a surprise to hear."
Just like Stanton chased home run history, the MVP voting was historically close. Stanton and Votto each finished with 10 first-place votes, but Stanton had 10 second-place votes to Votto's nine.
In a wide-open field, six different players received first-place votes, the first time that happened since Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell tied for the NL MVP Award in 1979. Following the shared award, there were two other years where the difference was one point -- 1947, when Joe DiMaggio edged out Ted Williams for the AL honor, and 1944 in the NL, when Marty Marion edged Bill Nicholson.
Video: Stanton caps off historic 2017 with NL MVP Award
"I've known him every step of his professional career," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "To be able to say he's the MVP of the league is just an unbelievable honor, for someone to be a part of that, and to admire it."
With all the highs and lows of his career, bringing home the MVP Award is something Stanton will reflect on as the offseason progresses.
"It's almost like, you start from scratch moment," Stanton said. "You remember the thoughts you had as a kid, and when times were good and bad as a pro and in the Minors and everything building up, you just finally give thanks to that. I'll have more time to think about everything that has gone on in the seasons over the years, and look forward to a new journey, too."
Soft-spoken by nature, Stanton let his production do the talking this past season. It rang loudly as he accomplished a home run number the league hasn't seen since Barry Bonds was dominating the sport.
Video: Lowell breaks down Stanton's adjustments in MVP year
Stanton paced the Majors with 59 home runs, becoming the eighth player in history to hit at least that many in a season. It's a total that hadn't been reached since Bonds set the MLB record with 73 in 2001. Sammy Sosa finished with 64 in the same year.
The lofty home run figure was just part of Stanton's all-around season. His 132 RBIs and .631 slugging percentage also topped the Majors.
• Complete 2017 Awards coverage
Being named MVP is the latest in a string of offseason awards for Stanton, who turned 28 last week. At the World Series, the native of Sherman Oaks, Calif., was named the Hank Aaron Award winner in the NL. A week ago, he received the NL Silver Slugger Award, and he also won the NL Players Choice Award for Outstanding Player.
Stanton also was an NL Gold Glove Award finalist.
Video: Ozuna, Stanton win Silver Slugger Awards in NL
Fans can also vote for Stanton as Best Major Leaguer in the Esurance MLB Awards, where baseball legends, media, front-office personnel and fans come together to pick the winners, with postseason accomplishments factored in. Then tune in Friday at 8 p.m. ET on MLB Network and MLB.com as this year's best stars and moments are revealed.
Stanton was named MVP on the day the General Managers Meetings wrapped up in Orlando, Fla., and there is plenty of speculation that the slugger may be traded.
Stanton noted that he will keep specifics on the trade talk to himself, but noted that if the Marlins could thoroughly address their pitching needs, he would prefer to stay in Miami.
"But, it needs to be thoroughly addressed, not somewhat addressed," Stanton said. "It needs to be a huge push now in a definite contending-addressed manner."
Video: Stanton discusses trade rumors after MVP season
Ability has never been in question for Stanton. Since breaking in at age 20 in 2010, his career has always been about staying healthy.
In 2014, Stanton led the NL in home runs with 37, and he finished second in the MVP race to Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. Even that year, Stanton missed the final three weeks due to being struck in the face by a pitch.
"He was on his way to winning his first in 2014," Hill said. "He was my MVP, hands down, until he got hit in the face."
Video: Must C Crushed: Stanton crushes 58th, 59th HRs of '17
After three straight injury-plagued seasons, Stanton showed what he can do when he stays on the field. He appeared in a career-high 159 games and turned in one of the top home run performances in MLB history.
His home run total was 20 more than the next challenger in the NL. Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers finished with 39. Stanton's slash line was .281/.376/.631, and he scored 123 runs.
Before Stanton's record-setting campaign, the Marlins' record for home runs in a season was 42 by Gary Sheffield in 1996, and the RBI mark was 121, set by Preston Wilson in 2000.
Video: Stanton credits father, training staff, teammates
"I knew I had to bounce back from that," Stanton said of his injury in '14. "But it was really people pushing me, my trainers, the people I work out with and try to get better with, they always pushed me, they always said, 'You can do this, you can be there.' And I knew I can do it, but I knew that it took more than talking about it. You had to show up every day, be prepared and do everything you need to."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.