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Cardinals 1B Paul Goldschmidt wins NL MVP: 'I just feel like God has blessed me'

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is used to being in the MVP conversation. He had two second-place finishes (2013 and 2015) and a third-place (2017) as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Goldschmidt finally captured the award for the first time Thursday following a dominant season for the NL Central champions, beating out San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado and teammate Nolan Arenado.

The 35-year-old received 22 of the 30 first-place votes and was announced as the NL MVP by Albert Pujols, who won the award three times as a member of the Cardinals, and was Goldschmidt’s teammate in St. Louis last season.

“What I love about you is just the way that you conduct yourself off the field [and on the field], the great teammate you are,” Pujols told Goldschmidt on MLB Network.

The ninth-oldest player to win an MVP since 1969, Goldschmidt hit .317 with 35 home runs and 115 RBIs in 151 games. He also led the NL in slugging (.578) and on-base plus slugging (.981). St. Louis finished the season 93-69 and lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in the opening round of the playoffs.

Goldschmidt was quick to credit the people who have helped him throughout his baseball career during his conversation with MLB Network, and thanked God for putting all of those people in his life.

“There’s been so many different people that have helped me, and I just feel like God has blessed me to surround me with great people, and I’ve just tried to soak up their knowledge and wisdom and tried to use it to the best of my ability,” he said. “Whether I won this or not, it was going to be a great year. This was my best year and the most fun I had.”

He singled out Arenado — who came in third behind Goldschmidt and Machado — as one of the people who was instrumental to his success.

“He’s one of if not the best friend of mine on the team, and I rely on him a ton,” Goldschmidt said. “We talk almost before every at-bat. 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.”

Respected across baseball for his work ethic and selflessness, Goldschmidt has also established himself as one of the spiritual leaders in the Cardinals’ clubhouse since joining the team in 2019. New Miami Marlins manager and former St. Louis bench coach Skip Schumaker talked about Goldschmidt and the team’s core of strong Christians on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in September.

Schumaker said Goldschmidt was the one who took charge of the team’s Bible studies this season, and getting to know Goldschmidt personally only made Schumaker appreciate the seven-time All-Star even more.

“The way he goes about life is more impressive to me than his MVP season,” Schumaker said on the podcast. “And that should say a lot about who this guy is. And, you know, you always respected him from afar in the other dugout, and now that I’m with him, the way he handles people in our group and his family, it’s inspiring, and I’m very grateful that he’s around and helping me in my journey.”

With Goldschmidt and Arenado set to return in 2023, St. Louis is positioned well for a fifth straight postseason appearance. The team has not won a playoff series since 2019.

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