Rolaids Relief Award
Every Braves fan seems to have their own opinion of Vizcaino: he walks too many, he puts too many runners on base, he gives up too many home runs. Well, it is time for the negative cloud around him to disappear. Even though he has a higher WHIP (1.15) than you would like to see in your closer, he has yet to give up a run since May 15th. That is ten straight appearances without an earned run, and although they may not all be one, two, three innings, he has been the best reliever the Braves have had all season.
Rookie of the Year
Ronald Acuna Jr.
Unfortunately for not only Braves fans but for all of baseball, Acuna Jr. was gruesomely injured beating out a throw to first base. Thankfully, what looked to be severe turned out to be nothing more than a hyper extension. Acuna returned for last weekend’s series versus the Cardinals and once again looked like the best prospect in all of baseball. He hit a mammoth home-run shot (All of his home runs seem to just go a bit further than everyone else’s) for his sixth of the season along with a double and four total hits against the Redbirds.
His teammate and good friend, Ozzie Albies, would probably have ended up capturing this award for the entire MLB had he not qualified as a rookie last season. Either way, it seems like Albies and Acuna are cut from the same cloth, and I am expecting a huge second half from Ronald Acuna Jr.
Comeback Player of the Year
Sanchez has had a roller coaster career beginning as a 22-year old when he electrified the Marlins faithful going 10-3 with a 2.86 ERA in his rookie season. Unfortunately, injuries derailed his career and never allowed him to reach the stellar potential he possessed as a younger player. However, Sanchez has adapted from being a power arm and becoming more of a pitcher. It has allowed him to sustain a 13-year major league career, and so far in his first year with the Braves, it looks like he still has some gas left in the tank. In eight starts this season, Sanchez is 3-2 with a 2.68 ERA, keeping both his home-run and walk totals down.
The trade of Evan Gattis to the Astros for Mike Foltynewicz had yet to pay off. That is, until this season, as Foltynewicz has begun to prove he can be the head of a staff. In 16 starts, Folty has recorded an incredible 2.01 ERA, good for third in all of baseball and second in the National League. Now, that is what you call a steal considering the Braves had little use for Gattis at the time of the trade.
The only thing thing that has been able to stop the fireballer has been a triceps injury that sent him to the DL earlier this month. Even then, he has pitched ten innings of one-run ball with thirteen strikeouts since coming back. His slider has become a go-to pitch to pair with a high-90s fastball. Sean Newcomb has had a fantastic second season with Atlanta, but right now Folty is leading this staff, and that may be the way it is for quite some time.
Most Valuable Player
It is hard to fade Nick Markakis for this award, as he is having the best year of his career and deserves to be an All-Star starter. However, Freeman might be the MVP of the National League halfway through the season. Despite, a recent cold streak with the bat, Freeman is still mashing .315 with 16 home runs and leading the team in RBIs with 56. He is also posting the highest on-base percentage of his career at .407. Whenever the Braves have needed a hit or a win, Freeman has come through in MVP fashion. He is the biggest reason this Braves team is sitting comfortably on top of the NL East and are eyeing their first playoff berth since 2013.
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