MVP: Freddie Freeman
Let’s go ahead and start with the biggest award out there – the Most Valuable Player.
Make no mistake, MVPs are hard to come by. It’s reckless to project any non-Mike Trout player for an MVP-caliber season. That being said, Freeman definitely represents Atlanta’s best chance.
The 6-foot-5 first baseman took his game to a new level in 2016 setting career highs in home runs (34), slugging percentage (.569), isolated slugging percentage (.267), and on-base percentage (.400). He joined Trout and Joey Votto as one of just three qualified hitters to record a .300/.400/.500 line for the season.
That standout performance earned him a sixth place finish in the National League MVP balloting.
While 2016 was undoubtedly his best all-around season, sixth actually isn’t his highest MVP finish. In 2013 he rode a .319/.396/.501 line to a fifth place finish (it likely didn’t hurt that the Braves went 96-66 and won the NL East that season).
Still, entering his age-27 season, Freeman is squarely in his prime and could very well continue to build on his excellent 2016. He will also have an improved lineup around him, which could pad his RBI total (a stat the still seems to hold weight with some voters).
Again, it’s virtually impossible to expect an MVP award. However, Freeman certainly belongs on the short list of realistic candidates.