Major League Baseball handed out its final two pieces of hardware on Thursday night by revealing this year’s Most Valuable Player Award winners. Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. won the National League’s designation over Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and first baseman Freddie Freeman. Acuña and AL winner Shohei Ohtani both won unanimously, making this the first timte since 1931 that the winners in both leagues received full support.
For those who may not be up to snuff on how MLB’s awards are decided, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America cast their ballots at the conclusion of the regular season. That means the postseason is not factored into the equation. Throughout the week, the MLB and BBWAA have been announcing their winners in other categories. Here’s a recap:
Acuña, 25, had previously received MVP consideration in three seasons, including a fifth-place finish in 2019. He put himself above everyone else this year by batting .337/.416/.596 (168 OPS+) with 41 home runs and 73 stolen bases. Acuña’s season represents the first time that a player had cleared the 40-70 mark. While it doesn’t cheapen his brilliance, it should be noted that this season comes after the installation of new rules at the MLB level that incentivized the stolen base. Clearly, in Acuña’s case, MLB got its wish.
Acuña’s contributions were worth an estimated 8.2 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference’s calculations.
Here’s the full voting breakdown:
Ronald Acuna Jr.
|Fernando Tatis Jr.||–||–||–||5|
This marks the ninth time that a Braves player has won the MVP Award. Acuña joins a group that includes Freddie Freeman (2020), Chipper Jones (1999), Terry Pendleton (1991), Dale Murphy (1982, 1983), Henry Aaron (1957), Robert Elliott (1947), and Johnny Evers (1914). (The Braves relocated to Atlanta in 1966, meaning that Aaron’s win came while the team was located in Milwaukee and both Elliott and Evers’ victories came as members of the Boston Braves.)
Betts and Freeman each had terrific seasons themselves. Betts hit .307/.408/.579 (163 OPS+) with 39 home runs and 107 RBI. Baseball Reference estimated that his play was worth 8.3 Wins Above Replacement. Freeman batted .331/.410/.567 (161 OPS+) with 29 home runs and 102 RBI. His season was deemed to be worth 6.5 Wins Above Replacement.