Despite having the second-best record in the National League, the Atlanta Braves made a somewhat improbable run to just one win away from a World Series appearance. What was not improbable was what came on Thursday night when first baseman and ATV co-pilot Freddie Freeman came away with his first-ever MVP.
Freeman received 28 of the 30 first place votes, with Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts receiving the other two, with Freeman coming in second on both of those ballots. The feat is especially astounding given the fact that Freeman didn’t just win the award in a Covid-19-shortened season, but he himself had Covid three days before Opening Day in July.
After a mild slump, he finished the year on a tear, hitting .341 with a 1.102 OPS and 13 homers and 53 RBI in 60 games. It was something of a slow burn for Freeman as he finished fifth in 2013, sixth in 2016, eighth in 2018, and fourth last year.
At just 31, Freeman is constructing a potential Hall of Fame resume. He is a career .295 hitter with 240 home runs, 858 RBI, four All-Star appearances, two Silver Sluggers, and a Gold Glove in 10 full seasons of play. If he plays another decade, using 2020 as a fulcrum on which his career inverses with the latter years resembling the earlier years, his numbers stack up favorably.
Against his would-be Cooperstown peers, his .295 average would rank him ahead of the likes of Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Tony Perez, and Jim Thome. His 480 homers would put him seventh among all first basemen in the Hall, and his 1,716 RBI would rank him sixth. Of course, there are no less than a million variables between now and whenever Frito hangs ’em up, but he is tracking to join historic company.
No matter where he ends up, tonight is a banner night for one of baseball’s “good guys,” and a well-deserved honor years in the making.