LOS ANGELES - Cody Bellinger heard the MVP chants from the end of his historic April through the end of the summer. He received them at Dodger Stadium and on the road throughout the country. They were loud and constant, an echoing sound to the season as the Dodgers plowed their way to a franchise-record 106 wins with Bellinger slugging in their middle of their lineup.
The season ended in disappointment, but Bellinger received the sport's ultimate individual prize Thursday, becoming the 12th Dodger to win the National League MVP Award. He is the Dodgers' first MVP since Clayton Kershaw in 2014 and their first position player win the award since Kirk Gibson in 1988.
"There wasn't one part of his game he didn't dominate," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said in a statement.
Bellinger received 19 of the 30 first-place votes, 10 second-place votes, and a fifth-place vote. Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich finished in second and was given 10 first-place votes. Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon was third. He received the other first-place vote.
Dodgers infielder Max Muncy finished 16th in the balloting with an eighth-place vote and 10-place vote. Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu was 19th with an eight-place vote.
Bellinger, 24, entered 2019 looking to rebound from a frustrating 2018 season when his struggles against left-handed pitching prompted the Dodgers to platoon him in September and through the postseason. He bounced back by becoming one of baseball's best all-around hitters.
The two-time All-Star batted .305 with 47 home runs, 115 runs batted in, 15 steals, and a 1.035 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 156 games. Against left-handers, he batted .280 with 18 home runs and a .982 OPS a year after he batted .226 with a .681 OPS against them. He was issued a league-leading 21 intentional walks and provided elite defense at three positions _ right field, center field, and first base. He also won a Gold Glove as a right fielder and a Silver Slugger Award.
Bellinger was batting .400 through the middle of May, but was a .263 hitter over his final 109 games as opponents adjusted and pitched around him more frequently.
"The decision-making in plate discipline got away from him a little bit," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "And it's difficult to maintain that discipline when guys are starting to pitch around you even more just nibbling."
Bellinger cooling off opened the door for Yelich to possibly win the MVP award for the second straight season.
Yelich bested Bellinger in most offensive statistical categories, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, but Bellinger was the better defender and a season-ending knee injury in September hurt Yelich's candidacy. He finished with a .329 batting average, 44 home runs, and a 1.100 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 130 games.
In the end, Bellinger's offensive production and superior defense were enough to win the award he heard about all season.