The Braves haven’t played inspiring baseball since returning from the All-Star break, but fans shouldn’t be worried. It’s a minuscule sample size, and the club has been decimated by injuries. After putting up one of the best first halves we’ve ever seen, Atlanta has stumbled out of the gate, but reinforcements are on the way in the form of Max Fried, A.J. Minter, and Dylan Lee.
The offense has also uncharacteristically underperformed at times in the second half. However, if their weekend series against the Brewers was any indication, that’s about to turn around in a big way. This is as talented of a lineup as any in baseball, and it begins with MVP frontrunner Ronald Acuna Jr. at the top.
The Venezuelan superstar is on a different planet this season, shooting to establish himself as the only player to not only reach 40 home runs and 40 stole bases but also 40/50, 40/60, and even 40/70.
However, I saw a different blog from Barstool Sports talking about Ronald Acuna Jr. not being the clear-cut favorite for the NL MVP, as former teammate Freddie Freeman inches closer. And the more you look at the numbers, the more it becomes an argument, despite the odds having RAJ as the heavy betting favorite.
- FanDuel: -700
- BetMGM: -650
- PointsBet: -800
- DraftKings: -700
However, the pair’s stats are a bit closer than the odds would indicate.
- Acuna: .331/.416/.571, 24 home runs, 93 runs, 61 RBIs, 51 stolen bases, 5.5 fWAR
- Freeman: .334/.413/.580, 21 home runs, 91 runs, 74 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, 5.3 fWAR
Obviously, Acuna is a much more dynamic athlete and more valuable on the base paths, hence him having four times the number of stolen bags. Moreover, playing right field is much more difficult than first base, and his standing as the leadoff hitter mitigates his opportunities to bring in runs.
Still, the numbers aren’t that far off. So, why does Vegas have Acuna as the clear favorite?
Storylines matter when it comes to MVP awards, and there aren’t many better than Acuna’s. This is a guy who tore his ACL a couple of seasons ago and has worked his way back into the conversation of the best players in baseball. Acuna is also on pace to make history in multiple categories, and he’s the best player on the best team. It doesn’t hurt that he’s one of the most likable players in the game as well. As long as Acuna finishes the year strong, he should run away with the NL MVP award.