For most of his MLB career, Freddie Freeman has been in the MVP conversation. This year, he is the conversation.
On Thursday, the Atlanta Braves first baseman was officially named the Most Valuable Player in the National League. He’s the fourth Braves player to win the award since the franchise moved to Atlanta, joining Dale Murphy (1982, 1983) Terry Pendleton (1991) and Chipper Jones (1999). He's the first NL first baseman to win it since Joey Votto in 2010.
Chicago White Sox first baseman José Abreu won the award in the American League, making it the third time ever a first baseman won the award in both leagues.
Seasons where 2 MVPs were first basemen:
2020: José Abreu & Freddie Freeman
2006: Justin Morneau & Ryan Howard
1994: Frank Thomas & Jeff Bagwell
1979: Keith Hernandez & Willie Stargell (both in NL, tied)
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) November 12, 2020
Freeman received 28 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts finished second. San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado finished third.
Here are the full standings, via the BBWAA. You can find individual ballots on their site.
After missing much of summer camp while recovering from COVID-19, Freeman unsurprisingly got off to a sluggish start in 2020. Over the season’s first 13 games, he only hit .190. Over Atlanta's final 47 games, Freeman slashed .378/.490/.721 with 21 doubles, 12 homers, 46 RBIs, 35 walks and only 25 strikeouts. That was likely a big advantage with voters who gave more weight to a strong finish.
Overall, Freeman slashed .341/.462/.640 while leading the NL in runs scored (51) and doubles (23).
It’s an especially impressive accolade for Freeman considering the competition.
After signing a 12-year, $365 million contract extension with the Dodgers before the season, Betts went on an offensive rampage. He finished top five in the NL in home runs (16, third), runs scored (47, fourth) and stolen bases (10, fifth), while slashing .292/.366/.562. Mookie's defensive game remained strong as well. He received his fifth career Gold Glove award after putting together an impressive string of highlight reel catches and throws.
Along with Fernando Tatis Jr., who many believe was equally deserving of MVP consideration, Machado was a driving force that helped San Diego reach the postseason for the first time since 2006. At the plate, the star third baseman slashed .304/.370/.580 with 16 home runs, 12 doubles and 47 RBIs. In the field, he continued playing elite-level defense.
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