First baseman gets 22 of 30 first-place votes: ‘I don’t win this award if it’s not for Nolan’
November 17th, 2022
Painfully close so many times before in a career highlighted by its consistent brilliance, Cardinals star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt finally captured his first National League MVP Award on Thursday night.
Goldschmidt, twice a runner-up and a top-six finisher five times, beat out Padres third baseman Manny Machado and teammate Nolan Arenado for one of the sport’s most prestigious honors. Goldschmidt and Arenado, Cardinals cornerstones again in 2022, narrowly missed becoming the seventh set of teammates to finish first and second in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America balloting in the divisional era (since 1969). Goldschmidt received 22 of 30 first-place votes and eight second-place votes for 380 points. Machado nabbed seven first-place votes and 13 second-place votes for 291 points. Arenado had one first-place vote, two second-place votes and 15 third-place votes for 232 points.
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“That’s what you set out to do — to go out and play well,” Goldschmidt said after celebrating the announcement of the win with his family. “It’s not like it’s a goal — to go out and win the MVP — but you want to play well and do your part and have a consistent year. I was able to do that, with the exception of the last few weeks and the first few weeks. It’s a great honor to win this award, but you’re always looking forward to next year. Play well, improve and try to win the World Series.”
Goldschmidt is the first Cardinal to win the award since legendary first baseman Albert Pujols repeated in 2008 and ’09. Cards players have captured 18 MVP Awards, second only to the Yankees, who now have 21 following Aaron Judge’s win in the AL. MLB Network had Pujols — a three-time MVP and a four-time runner-up for the award — announce Goldschmidt as the winner.
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Pujols on Goldschmidt winning MVP
At 35 years old when the season ended, Goldschmidt is the ninth-oldest MVP in the divisional era, and the oldest since a 40-year-old Barry Bonds won in 2004. Also, Goldschmidt is the fourth-oldest first-time MVP in the divisional era and the sixth-oldest first-time winner in the history of the award.
“I think that was my best year, even if you take out my age,” he said. “When you start to get older, you’re thinking, ‘Man, can I replicate what I did in my “prime”?’
“Factor [age]in and I’m more proud of what I was able to do in 2022 and even 2021. Even if you take out age — and I’d have to look at the stats, because I didn’t dive into them — but I think the way I played was the best.”
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Capturing the NL MVP allowed Goldschmidt to pull off a clean sweep of some of the game’s top honors. He was already the winner of the NL’s Hank Aaron, Silver Slugger, MLBPA’s Most Outstanding Player and the MLB Retired Players Association’s Heart & Hustle awards, and Goldschmidt easily outdistanced the field in the MVP balloting, as voted on by two BBWAA members in each NL city.
Goldschmidt on winning NL MVP
Goldschmidt had finished second in MVP voting twice (2013 and ’15), third once (’17) and sixth twice (’18 and ’21). Now, after he led the NL in OPS (.981) and slugging (.578) and finished in the NL’s top five in WAR (7.8, second), on-base percentage (.404, second), batting average (.317, third), home runs (35, fifth) and RBIs (115, second) in his 12th big league season, Goldschmidt finally has an MVP.
In addition to helping the Cardinals win 93 games and an NL Central crown, Goldschmidt was a Gold Glove Award finalist and the franchise’s Roberto Clemente Award nominee. Goldschmidt hit the 300th home run of his career on July 16 against the Reds, and he had a walk-off grand slam against the Blue Jays on May 23.
Paul Goldschmidt’s walk-off slam
Goldschmidt had glowing praise for Arenado, stressing that he couldn’t have won the MVP without the support of the Cardinals’ third baseman.
“He’s one of if not the best friend of mine on the team, and I rely on him a ton. We talk almost before every at-bat,” Goldschmidt said of Arenado, who recently declined a chance to opt out of his contract and is signed through 2027. “I don’t win this award if it’s not for Nolan. I talk to him so much, I talk to him all the time, I vent to him, and I ask questions of him. He pushes me, he motivates me, and we’re there for each other.”
Arenado, who crafted one of the best all-around seasons of his career, also played a big role on a division-winning team for the first time. In addition to third place in NL MVP voting this year, he has finished eighth (2015), fifth (’16), fourth (’17), third (’18) and sixth (’19).
Arenado ranked first in the NL in WAR (7.9), second in slugging (.533), sixth in batting average (.293), 11th in home runs (30), fourth in RBIs (103), third in doubles (42) and fourth in OPS (.891). He won the Player of the Month Award in April and August, the only two-time winner in the NL.
Arenado on being an MVP finalist
Defensively, Arenado was even better. The 31-year-old third baseman equaled a mark set by Ichiro Suzuki in winning his 10th consecutive Gold Glove to start a career. Arenado is one of just four infielders to win 10 straight Gold Gloves at one position.
Arenado reiterated to MLB Network on Thursday that he took great pride in posting stellar numbers in St. Louis — some wondered if he could do so away from hitter-friendly Colorado.
“It’s significant because a lot of people probably never thought I could be in this position in this uniform,” said Arenado, who has 299 career home runs. “It felt good to kind of shut some of the haters up a little bit. Not that I didn’t think I could do it [in St. Louis]– I always felt like I could play anywhere. The history with this organization, all the great players, the MVPs [like]Willie [McGee] and Albert [Pujols] — it’s cool to be in the conversation like they were, and it’s an honor to do it in this uniform.”
Arenado places 3rd for NL MVP
Goldschmidt’s one regret was the slump he had in September and one that carried into the playoffs. Goldschmidt went hitless in eight at-bats with four strikeouts as the Cardinals were swept by the Phillies in the NL Wild Card Series. Those struggles led to a short offseason for the muscular slugger.
“After we lost in the playoffs, I was pretty down for a few days, but fortunately time heals all wounds,” Goldschmidt said. “Eventually, I said, ‘That was a pretty dang good year.’ I didn’t play well in the playoffs, and that stings and I use it for motivation. … I’ve already been working toward next year. A day, two or three days after [the postseason exit], I was already focused on trying to improve and get ready for next year.”