Long regarded as one of the most underrated players in Major League Baseball, Freddie Freeman got the recognition he deserved this year with the National League Most Valuable Player Award.
Having received 28 out of the 30 first-place votes, besting Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts in the process, Freeman's MVP award was no fluke. Baseball writers recognized Freeman's brilliance in leading the Braves to another National League East Division championship and a game away from a World Series berth.
Freeman batted .341 with 13 homers and 53 RBIs in just 60 games, while leading the majors with 23 doubles and 51 runs. Over the normal schedule of 162 games, Freeman's stats would have been 35 homers, 143 RBIs, 62 doubles and 137 runs. Now, he likely wouldn't have played all 162 games but he also didn't have the chance to really heat up during the summer months, either.
Oh, and he overcame a bout with COVID-19 just weeks before the start of the delayed Opening Day in July.
It's hard not to be biased when discussing Freeman's accomplishments as a player. He is just as great of a professional athlete off the field as he on the diamond when manning first base.
Who can forget one Halloween when he spotted a child sporting a Freddie Freeman jersey and asked to have a picture taken with him? Who can forget the countless times he has been mic-d up for television during games and hear the joy for which he plays the game? Who can forget the videos his wife has posted to social media of him and his son, Charlie, taking batting practice?
Freeman has been the cornerstone of the franchise, which included some trying years when the Braves underwent a massive rebuild and he was the only legit star the team had.
Freeman's projectory has him positioned to end his career as one of the greatest Atlanta Braves of all time (barring any roadblocks upcoming with his contract extension which he's due after the 2021 season).
He'll never hit more than 755 homers like Hank Aaron. He's not the switch-hitting phenom that Chipper Jones was.
What Freeman has going for him is likeability, professionalism and greatness that might be enough to jettison him to the top of the Atlanta Braves greatest player list. An MVP can only help that cause.
Freeman's MVP also provides ample evidence of Freeman's greatness if someday he's considered for the Hall of Fame and there are those who scoff at the notion, despite evidence to the contrary. He is already a Hall of Famer off the field. This MVP might have just made him one on the field as well.