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Cardinals cornermen Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado finalists for NL MVP award

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LAS VEGAS — Two of the best all-around players in the game who had two of the best all-around seasons in the league, Cardinals corner infielders Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are finalists for the National League MVP, the highest honor given an individual player in each league.

San Diego's Manny Machado is the third finalist for the award.

That means a first-time winner will be crowned NL MVP this season.

Cardinals rookie Brendan Donovan is a finalist for the National League's Rookie of the Year award, which is named for Jackie Robinson.

The winner of the MVP award will be announced Nov. 17.

The winner of the rookie honor will be announced Nov. 14.

The finalists were announced Monday evening at MLB Network, and the word "finalist" is a bit misleading. There is not another round of voting to be done for the awards, and technically the three players named finished top three in the voting by 30 members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America at the end of the regular season.

Already the winner of the players' choice award for the most outstanding player in the National League, Goldschmidt is the favorite to win the MVP, too.

Arenado rises out of the mix of challengers that included Machado, Los Angeles' Dodgers first baseman Freddy Freeman, LA outfielder Mookie Betts, Mets slugger Pete Alonso, Atlanta's Austin Riley, and, perhaps for some voters, Mets closer Edwin Diaz.

This past season, Goldschmidt had a career year by leading the National League in slugging (.578), OPS (.981), and several advanced metrics like weighted Runs Created+ (177). He flirted with a run for the Triple Crown before a September slump, and still he finished third in batting average (.317), sixth in homers (35), and second in RBIs (115).

Arenado, who won his 10th consecutive Gold Glove Award at third base earlier this month, was one of the leaders in Wins Above Replacement, a measure that merges offense and defense. He hit .293 with a .533 slugging percentage that ranked third in the NL. He also had a top-five OPS with .891 and 103 RBIs for his second consecutive 100-RBI season with the Cardinals.

By several advanced metrics, including OPS+, Arenado had a career year offensively.

Donovan won a Gold Glove Award as a utility player to become the first Cardinals rookie ever to win a Gold Glove, and the National League Rookie of the Year punctuates his breakout year that ended with him as part of the team's leadoff group. Donovan hit .281 with a .394 on-base percentage and a .379 slugging percentage. He scored 64 runs in 126 games.

The other finalists for the NL Rookie of the Year award were Atlanta teammates Spencer Strider and Michael Harris II. Strider and Harris are considered co-favorites depending for their performances in Atlanta, and the award could be a litmus test of how an everyday position player does against the first rookie pitcher to strike out more than 200 and allow fewer than 100 hits in his debut. 

Each city with a National League team gets two ballots for each award, and the votes are due before the first pitch of the postseason.

The NL MVP voters in St. Louis were this reporter and Hall of Fame baseball writer Rick Hummel.

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