Last year, there was no shortage of Braves winning awards at the end of the season. A franchise-record four players took home Silver Sluggers, Max Fried won his first Gold Glove, and of course, Freddie Freeman became the first Brave to win the MVP since Chipper Jones did back in 1999. That won’t be easy to replicate, especially over a much longer season, but somehow, I predict the Braves will take home even more awards in 2021.
Winners: Max Fried, Cristian Pache, Ozzie Albies
The Braves may have only had one Gold Glove winner last year, but several finished inside the top-three at their respective position. I like Max Fried to repeat in 2021, and he will be joined by Cristian Pache, who will soon be regarded as the best defensive outfielder in baseball, and Ozzie Albies. Albies has been snubbed for this award before; he seldom makes errors and is due for at least one highlight play a game. It’s just a matter of time before his defense gets recognized, and I expect him to earn his first of multiple Gold Gloves in 2021.
Winners: Ronald Acuna Jr, Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies
The Braves could easily have four players win the Silver Slugger again in 2021, but I question whether Marcell Ozuna and Travis d’Arnaud will be able to stay as hot over a full 162-game season. It will also be more difficult for Ozuna to win a Silver Slugger in the outfield than as a DH. However, as long as Freeman and Acuna stay healthy, they will take home the award, and I have Albies bouncing back in 2021 and winning the second Silver Slugger of his career.
NL Comeback Player of the Year
Winner: Mike Soroka
Mike Soroka has the story — tearing his Achilles in early August of last year — now, he just needs to perform. The 23-year-old arrived at Spring Training in good spirits and has passed every test thus far. It won’t be long before he returns to the starting rotation, and I just don’t see him struggling much once he is back. Like Max Fried, Soroka has that “it” factor, and I expect him to be one of the best pitchers in the National League this year, leading to the Comeback Player of the Year award.
Winner: Ronald Acuna Jr.
If the National League’s top stars are to stay healthy, I have the MVP race coming down to two players — Ronald Acuna Jr. and Juan Soto. The difference will be that Acuna’s defense will give him an advantage in WAR; the Braves will also win the division, and Acuna will become the sixth member of the exclusive 40-40 club. Soto’s time will come, but 2021 will be the year of Ronald Acuna.
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