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Betts caps honors season with AL MVP Award

Red Sox star also wins World Series, batting title, Gold Glove Award in 2018
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- A batting title, a World Series championship, a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger and a baby daughter had already made 2018 the most gratifying year in the life of Mookie Betts. And then there was a sweet capper on Thursday, when the superstar right fielder of the Red Sox was named the American League's Most Valuable Player, winning the award in a romp.

Betts received 28 of a possible 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez also received a first-place vote and finished fourth overall. Runner-up Mike Trout got the other first-place vote.

BOSTON -- A batting title, a World Series championship, a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger and a baby daughter had already made 2018 the most gratifying year in the life of Mookie Betts. And then there was a sweet capper on Thursday, when the superstar right fielder of the Red Sox was named the American League's Most Valuable Player, winning the award in a romp.

Betts received 28 of a possible 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez also received a first-place vote and finished fourth overall. Runner-up Mike Trout got the other first-place vote.

Video: Betts discusses his incredible overall year in 2018

:: AL Most Valuable Player voting totals ::

With 410 total points, Betts outdistanced Trout (265 points) and third-place finisher Jose Ramirez (208 points) by a large margin.

As Betts was announced as the winner in a live show on MLB Network, he held his daughter, Kynlee, who was born Nov. 6, and was flanked by his mother, Diana, and his girlfriend, Briana. A large contingent of Betts' family and friends sat behind him and cheered.

"It's been a pretty good 2018," Betts said. "I enjoy these moments while I can because 2019, hopefully we can make it better."

Betts is the first Red Sox player to win the MVP since Dustin Pedroia in 2008. The other players to win the MVP for Boston? Tris Speaker (1912), Jimmie Foxx ('38), Ted Williams ('46 and '49), Jackie Jensen ('58), Carl Yastrzemski ('67), Fred Lynn ('75), Jim Rice ('78), Roger Clemens ('86) and Mo Vaughn ('95).

"This is definitely one of the best organizations in baseball," Betts said. "I couldn't ask to be part of a more historic organization with the fanbase the way they are, so it's been amazing."

Tweet from @mookiebetts: Couldn���t ask for more! pic.twitter.com/FOfvlFjcNH

The five-tool star Betts, who stayed in the leadoff spot the entire season for the World Series champions, had the best Baseball Reference WAR (10.9) for a position player since Barry Bonds in 2002.

All-time AL MVP Award winners

"I mean, it means a lot," Betts said. "It's definitely a special award and something that I cherish, but I think the most important thing is that we won a World Series and got to bring a trophy back to Boston."

After finishing second in the MVP race to Trout two years ago, Betts turned the tables in a big way this time.

Video: Mookie Betts is the 2018 AL MVP Award winner

"Obviously, I really wanted to win then. Just being in that spot, you don't ever know if you're going to make it back," Betts said. "It's been everything I imagined and more. I think the most important thing is that World Series. That's what kind of sticks in my head first and foremost about the season."

Betts was a force in every way possible, winning the batting title with a .346 average while adding 42 doubles, five triples, 32 homers, 129 runs, 80 RBIs and 30 stolen bases. The 26-year-old led MLB with a 1.078 OPS and earned his third consecutive Rawlings Gold Glove Award for his defensive excellence.

Complete 2018 awards coverage

His numbers were remarkable across the board: Betts was a .364 hitter at home while hitting .331 on the road. He belted 13 homers at home and nine on the road. Against lefties, Betts had an OPS of 1.207. Against righties, it was 1.037. Betts hit .300 or better in every month except June, when he still hit at a .290 clip.

"He impacts the game like no other player in the big leagues -- running the bases, playing defense, hitting for power," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said during the team's playoff run. "You see the numbers. It was a special season for him."

Tweet from @ac13alex: Proud of you @mookiebetts. #DamageDone #MVP

Trout had yet another monster year, leading the Majors with a 1.088 OPS, a .460 OBP and finishing second to Bryce Harper with 122 walks. The fact that Betts played for a team that notched a franchise-record 108 wins helped his cause. Trout's Angels finished 80-82.

Martinez was also a force for Boston in 2018, leading the Majors with 130 RBIs, and finishing second with 43 homers and a .330 average.

The key new addition to a Red Sox team that had won the AL East with 93 victories the previous two seasons, Martinez gave the lineup the middle-of-the-order bat it had lacked since David Ortiz's retirement. Martinez also helped change the culture of Boston's offense with his maniacal work habits and his non-stop enthusiasm for talking hitting.

"Obviously [Martinez] deserves to be where he is. He's worked and done everything he can to put himself in the right spot to be recognized," Betts said. "I'm glad he was recognized. He had a great year, definitely an MVP year. I'm just glad to know that at least he was recognized for it."

While Betts appreciates winning such a prestigious individual award, what will stick out most from the 2018 season is the juggernaut his team turned into from the outset that didn't relent until that championship celebration at Dodger Stadium.

"I think throughout the year, we were winning games left and right and were rolling pretty well," Betts said. "You kind of step back and say, 'Man, we have a pretty special team. I wonder if we're going to win the World Series?' AC told us from the beginning we had what it takes to win. We just had to execute, and that's kind of what our mindset was all year, day in and day out, making sure we did what we could to win each and every game."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts