Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman won the NL MVP award with ease on Thursday, topping a trying year that he got sick with COVID-19. He prayed “Please don’t take me.”
Freeman received 28 out of 30 first place votes by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Outfielder Mookie Bates of the Dodgers got the first two to finish second, and third baseman Manny Machado of San Diego third.
In a season affected by the epidemic from the Spring Series to the World Series, it was probably fitting the final major award of the year to someone infected with the virus.
Three weeks before the late opening day in late July, Freeman’s body temperature reached 104.5 degrees and lost his sense of taste and smell. At one point, he recalled, he prayed a little because “I wasn’t ready.”
“I got off to such a slow start,” Freeman said after Dale Murphy on MLB Network, the two-time NL MVP with the Braves announced the winner. “I didn’t know when I’d get my feet back.”
The 31-year-old star batted big. .341 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs while playing 60 games. A powerful lefty batsman with the ability to spray the ball across the field, he led the majors in hitting 23 doubles and scoring 51 runs.
Starring by a four-time All-Star, the Braves won the NL East and came within a victory of reaching the World Series for the first time since 1999.
Freeman Braves is the sixth different player in franchise history to be an NL MVP. Chipper Jones most recently won the honor in 1999 – Freeman wore a torn Braves T-shirt under his uniform that went from Jones to him.
Chicago White Sox slogger Jose Abreu earned AL MVP, a recognition for bringing his team back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
It was the first time since Ryan Howard and Justin Morno in 2006 that a pair of first baseman won MVPs.
Bates, 28, was bidding to include Frank Robinson as the only player to win the MVP in both leagues. The outfielder earned AL honors in 2018 while leading Boston to the World Series title.
Trapped by the Red Sox in Los Angeles earlier this year, Bates hit .292 with 16 homers and 39 RBIs and was the catalyst in the Dodgers run for his first championship since 1988.
Machado made .304 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs as San Diego made his first playoff appearance since 2006.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.