Freddie Freeman: Mookie Betts & Ronald Acuña Jr. ‘Pretty Special’

Prior to signing a six-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Freddie Freeman became a fixture in the Atlanta Braves organization and helped lead them to a World Series title in 2021.

While Freeman was a pillar in the Braves franchise, he began to share the spotlight with Ronald Acuña Jr. over recent years. Though, Acuña suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during the summer months of the 2021 season, which left him unavailable as the Braves went on an improbable World Series run.

Now with the Dodgers, Freeman has formed an All-Star tandem with Mookie Betts, a dynamic leadoff man in his own right.

Acuña, Betts and Freeman each enjoyed a stellar 2023 season and made up the group of finalists for the National League MVP Award. It predictably was won by Acuña as he was voted the unanimous winner of the NL MVP.

When discussing his career including opportunities to play with both Acuña and Betts during an appearance on MLB Network for the MVP announcement, Freeman spoke highly of their respective talents:

“It’s pretty special. Getting to watch Ronald when he first came up, you could just tell he was going to be a dynamic player. And then obviously watching Mookie from afar and then the last couple years, it’s just special what these guys can do on a baseball field. I’m a fan of baseball, so getting to play at the same time as them and getting to watch them play and go about their business like I’ve been able to, it’s just special as a baseball fan being in the same generation as these guys.”

Acuña’s MVP Award was built on becoming the first player in MLB history with 30 home runs and 60 stolen bases in one season. Acuña raised the bar even further by finishing the year with 41 homers and 73 stolen bases.

The Braves’ All-Star initially put his name into the record books with a stolen base and by hitting a grand slam at Dodger Stadium. The following day, Freeman represented the Dodgers in gifting a base to Acuña to commemorate the accomplishment.

“We wanted to give you the base so you’ll always remember the day you did it,” Freeman said in a video shared by the Braves. “And I wanted to be the one who gave it to you. Congratulations. That is awesome. Forever one of one.”

Although Betts fell short for 2023 NL MVP, he hit .307/.408/.579/ with 40 doubles, 39 home runs, 107 RBI, 14 stolen bases, 126 runs scored and a 167 wRC+.

Betts finished among the top three in the NL in wRC+, OPS+ (163), doubles, slugging percentage, on-base plus slugging (.987) and extra-base hits (80), and he set a new MLB record for most RBI out of the leadoff spot.

Betts additionally showed off remarkable versatility by adequately playing second base and shortstop.

Dave Roberts: Freddie Freeman overshadowed for MVP

With Acuña making MLB history and Betts putting together an impressive season in his own right, Freeman ran a distant third place for NL MVP consideration.

But his contributions were not lost on Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who touted Freeman as a worthy MVP candidate.

“I think if you look at Freddie’s career, a lot of it has gone unnoticed,” Roberts said during the season. “Even in Atlanta, I think they appreciate what he does and his production, but I think the baseball world, sometimes you take for granted the consistency of what he does.

“There’s no self-promotion to his game. He just loves to compete and win. When you’re talking about Most Valuable Players, for me, he is right there at the top of the conversation.”

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