Votto up for NL MVP after torrid second half

Reds first baseman a finalist with Harper, Goldschmidt

Votto up for NL MVP after torrid second half

CINCINNATI -- Following a down year filled with injuries and struggles, Reds first baseman Joey Votto reclaimed his place among the best hitters in baseball. His success in 2015 was recognized as Votto was one of three finalists announced Tuesday for the Baseball Writers' Association of America National League Most Valuable Player Award.

Other finalists are Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

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Voting was completed by members of the BBWAA at the end of the regular season. The winner will be announced Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

While Harper would appear to be the favorite to win, Votto, who is also a nominee for the Esurance MLB Awards, put together a very strong season as well.

In 158 games, Votto batted .314/.459/.541 with 29 home runs and 80 RBIs. His 1.000 OPS was third-best in the Majors behind Harper and Goldschmidt.

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Votto, 32, led the Majors with 143 walks, while setting a new franchise record. He also set new team records by reaching safely 319 times, and reaching safely at least twice in a game 107 times. He also tied Pete Rose's 1978 club mark by reaching safely in 48 consecutive games.

With a 7.4 wins-above-replacement (WAR), Votto ranked fifth in the Majors, and his 172 weighted-runs-created-plus (wRC+) was tied for second in baseball with Mike Trout -- both were behind Harper.

Votto was the 2010 NL MVP but saw his production dip after a left-knee injury that required two arthroscopic surgeries in 2012. He played all 162 games in 2013 but was hampered in 2014 by left knee and quadriceps injuries, which limited him to 62 games and a .255 average with six homers.

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The injury issues quickly were forgotten as Votto began the 2015 season healthy. But his production went into another gear after the All-Star break.

In the second half, Votto led the Majors in hitting (.362) and on-base percentage (.535) and had a .617 slugging percentage. The only players to produce those numbers in a half of a season were Ted Williams in the second half of the 1941 season and Barry Bonds in the first half of 2004.

Harper batted .330/.460/.649 in 153 games with 42 homers, 99 RBIs and 9.9 WAR. Goldschmidt batted .321/.435/.570 with 33 homers, 110 RBIs and 8.8 WAR in 158 games.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.