A honor that many times through the years has defined Hall of Famers and leaders for the Cardinals is one Paul Goldschmidt earned for the first time in his career with a forceful 2022 season.
Goldschmidt, the Cardinals' first baseman, won the National League MVP for the previous season, the Baseball Writers' Association of America announced Thursday night.
Albert Pujols, a three-time winner of the MVP award while a Cardinal, made the announcement of the winner on MLB Network.
"This is the first of many more to come," Pujols said on the broadcast. "Hopefully many more to come, brother."
Goldschmidt received 22 first-place votes on 30 ballots.
He appeared first or second on all 30 ballots.
His MVP is the 18th for the Cardinals since the BBWAA began the award in 1931, and it's the first for the Cardinals since Pujols won in 2009.
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Goldschmidt, who plays the position now that Pujols manned when he won MVPs as a Cardinal, finished ahead of teammate Nolan Arenado and San Diego third baseman Manny Machado in the voting.
Arenado, who led the NL in WAR and won his 10th consecutive Gold Glove Award at third base, received one first-place vote and finished third in the voting.
Arenado appeared in the top four on 29 of the 30 ballots.
Goldschmidt, 35, led the National League with a .578 slugging percentage and a .981 OPS. Entering September, he teased a run for the first NL Triple Crown in nearly 90 years. Goldschmidt finished with 35 home runs, 115 RBIs, and a .317. He finished top five in most significant offensive categories.
He has referred to this season as his "best year."
"I would have had more RBIs if he didn't drive in all the runs," Arenado joked during an interview on MLB Network on Thursday night when both he and Goldschmidt were on the screen.
Goldschmidt had finished second twice before in the voting while with Arizona, in 2013 and 2015. He finished third in the MVP voting in 2017. In 2021, his third season with the Cardinals, Goldschmidt finished sixth in the voting.
He asserted his claim to the award early in the season with a .404 average and a .817 slugging percentage in May, and that spilled into a .636 slugging percentage in June and election as the NL starter at first base for the All-Star Game.
"Those four months in the middle were as good as I could have played," Goldschmidt said during an interview Thursday night on MLB Network before the announcement of the MVP's winner. "Felt good and tried to keep it going."
The Cardinals first baseman than noted that he struggled most in September and did not change games in the brief playoff appearance.
"Use it as motivation for next year and going forward," he told the hosts on MLB Network.
Goldschmidt, who has spent the offseason thus far in St. Louis, will need to clear or construct a trophy case for the honors he's accumulated in recent weeks.
For his 2022 season, he's also won:
• That National League Outstanding Player award, as voted on by his peers.
• The Silver Slugger Award at first base, his fifth.
• The NL's Hank Aaron Award for offensive production.
• The Heart & Hustle Award as voted on by members of the players' alumni.
As part of the contract extension Goldschmidt signed with the Cardinals ahead of the 2019 season, he will receive a $1.5 million bonus for winning the MVP.
Arenado and Goldschmidt were the only Cardinals to receive votes.
The MVP award will be presented to Goldschmidt twice this offseason, first at a dinner for fans hosted Jan. 15 by St. Louis chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The honor will also be presented at the annual Baseball Writers' Association of America dinner in New York later in January.
The NL MVP award is voted on by writers in all 15 NL cities. There are 30 voters who submit ranked-choice ballots that are 10 names deep. The two voters in St. Louis are Post-Dispatch Hall of Fame baseball writer Rick Hummel and this reporter.
Look to StlToday.com for more coverage this evening.