The Braves feature the best player in the National League in Ronald Acuña Jr., but many have recently brought up the MVP race is closer than some even realize.
They’re right. Freddie Freeman is the hottest hitter on the planet, and his stats are eerily similar to his former teammate, outside of steals. It’s prompted some to suggest Freeman has a chance to unseat Acuña as the MVP favorite, which I have feverishly denounced.
Yes, the Dodgers’ first baseman is having a career year, but Acuña has one thing on his side that Freeman doesn’t — a story and history. The Braves superstar is looking to establish himself as the only player to reach several different marks of home runs and steals. Moreover, this is the first season in which he was fully healthy, more than a year removed from the ACL injury.
Not only do the betting odds suggest the race isn’t close, but MLB.com experts believe the same. In the site’s latest poll, Acuna earned 45 of 48 first-place votes while Freeman only garnered three. Here’s what they had to say about Acuña.
Forty-five out of 48 first-place votes is nothing to sneeze at. Acuña is still running way ahead of the rest of the field in the NL MVP race, with his Major League-leading 53 stolen bases to go along with 25 home runs and a .343 batting average. Acuña remains the odds-on favorite to ride a historic power-speed season to his first MVP trophy.
Freddie Freeman is having the best season of his career, and it should be acknowledged, but Ronald Acuña is doing things we have never seen done before in this sport. That matters to MVP voters.
Acuña’s teammate, Matt Olson, came in fourth on the list behind Freeman and Mookie Betts. The Braves’ first baseman owns an NL-best 39 home runs to go along with an MLB-leading 97 RBIs. I have also seen some suggest Olson could challenge Acuña for the award if he sniffs 60 home runs, and once again, though it’s impressive, it doesn’t trump the history that the Venezuelan superstar is writing.
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