Pirates' Andrew McCutchen wins NL MVP; Clayton Kershaw is seventh

Andrew McCutchen, the leader and best player of the team that returned postseason baseball to Pittsburgh for the first time in 21 years, was announced Thursday as the National League most valuable player.

Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks finished second, followed by Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Goldschmidt got no first-place votes. McCutchen would have won unanimously had the two St. Louis voters not cast first-place ballots for Molina.

Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers placed seventh, the highest finish for an NL pitcher since Roy Halladay was sixth in 2010.

The other Dodgers to receive votes: Shortstop Hanley Ramirez finished eighth, outfielder Yasiel Puig 15th, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez 19th.

Voters listed 10 choices on each ballot, in order of preference.

McCutchen finished third last season, behind Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Posey got one vote this year, for eighth place. Braun, who got no votes, ended the season by serving a 65-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy.

McCutchen, 27, batted .317 for the Pirates last season, with 21 home runs and 27 stolen bases. He batted .339 with a 1.001 OPS in the second half, as the Pirates battled to clinch their first winning season -- and first playoff spot -- since 1993.

Goldschmidt, 26, batted .302 and led the NL in home runs (36), runs batted in (125) and OPS (.952). The first baseman also won a Gold Glove, although that balloting is done by managers and coaches rather than by the Baseball Writers Assn. of America.

Molina, 31, batted .319 with 12 home runs. He ranked second in the NL with 44 doubles, and he hit .373 with men in scoring position. He also won his sixth consecutive Gold Glove at catcher and threw out 44% of runners trying to steal, second in the majors behind the Dodgers’ A.J. Ellis.