The MLB Cy Young Award winners were announced a couple of days ago, with Shane Bieber and Trevor Bauer taking home the honors. Next up, the MVP awards for both the National League (NL) and the American League (AL) have been announced, and the winners probably won’t come as a shock to baseball fans anywhere.
This was the first time since Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau in 2006 that two first basemen have won the MVP Awards.
Freeman Captures The NL MVP Award
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman has easily won the 2020 MLB NL’s MVP Award despite all odds. At the beginning of this convoluted baseball season, Freeman could barely walk due to a COVID-19 infection. A short time before that, he was registering a temperature of 104.5, he lost his sense of taste and smell and was in prayer, “Please don’t take me” was all he could manage because he was so ill. “It impacted me pretty hard,” Freeman explained.
As unlikely as it seemed at the time, Freeman recovered from the virus and ended up leading his team to within one game of the NL Pennant. It was a Herculean feat for which the Braves first baseman won 28 of the 30 first place votes from the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, which is quite an honor.
Although he had to take it easy for the first few weeks of regular season play, the 31-year-old Freeman pulled himself together, found his stride and ended up impressing fans and players alike batting .341 with 13 home runs and 53 runs batted in. He played all 60 games of the abbreviated MLB season.
Freeman told reporters, “I wasn’t the way I wanted to start, with COVID. I was able to beat it.” He not only beat COVID-19, but he also beat the rest of the NL by becoming its MVP for 2020, beating out LA Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and third baseman Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres.
If Mookie Betts had prevailed, he would have been the first player in the majors to have won the MVP Awards in both the American and National Leagues since Frank Robison.
If baseball offered an ‘ironman’ prize, Freeman would have collected that, as well. As it was, he led the majors with 23 doubles and 51 runs scored. Freeman is already the sixth Braves player to win the MVP Award with the famous Clipper Jones last winning the award in 1999. Freeman still wears an old, battered T-Shirt that Jones passed down to him.
Abreu Captures The AL Title
Over on the AL side of MLB, it was the Chicago White Sox’s first baseman/slugger Jose Abreu who won the MVP Award. He credits Rick Renteria with helping in his success and says that he is looking forward to playing with legendary manager Tony La Russa next season.
The 33-year-old Abreu received 21 of the 30 first place votes and 374 points in voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which has voted for the award since 1931. Abreu led the majors with 60 runs batted in and 148 total bases and hit an American league best with 76 hits and a .617 slugging percentage.
Like Freeman, Abreu played in all 60 games this season and helped the White Sox claim a wild card spot in the MLB playoffs for 2020. He batted .317 with 19 home runs, connecting for six home runs in a three game series against the Chicago Cubs back in late August as part of a 22-game hitting streak that was also the longest in MLB this year.
Third baseman Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians came in second in the voting and New York Yankees second base D.J. LeMahieu was third. LeMahieu also won the AL batting crown for 2020.
Freeman won $185,185 and Abreu received $37,037 in contract bonuses for winning the coveted awards.