Without Freddie Freeman, the Atlanta Braves never would have won the NL East and they may not have even made the postseason either. While his resume is no doubt impressive, no other player has made as big an impact on his team than Freeman. And that right there is exactly what it means to be an MVP.
If numbers told the story, Freeman would be ninth in the NL in batting average (.314), 10th in HR (23), third in RBI (105), eighth in SLG (.500) and seventh in OPS (.892). Of the prospective MVP candidates (Andrew McCutchen, Paul Goldschmidt, Yasiel Puig, Joey Votto and Yadier Molina), Freeman is behind only Goldschmidt in home runs and RBI but has the advantage of being on a playoff team while Goldschmidt does not.
But those stats aren’t the reason why Freeman will win the NL MVP.
On a team of bona fide stars that includes Jayson Heyward, BJ Upton, Dan Uggla, Justin Upton and Brian McCann, Freeman stood out as the best of the best. In fact, when those four guys struggled, Freeman single-handedly took this Braves team on his back and led them to their first NL East crown since 2005.
Most importantly, Freeman is hitting .431 this season with runners in scoring position, which is over 170 points higher than what BJ Upton and Uggla have hit combined in the same situation. His .431 average is also more than every single team in the league. But to put into context how important Freeman has been to the Braves, Atlanta, as a team, still ranks just 20th in the league with a .248 batting average. This is the lowest mark of all projected playoff teams. And without Freeman, the Braves’ batting average with RISP would be just over .225 which would best only the Chicago Cubs for the worst mark in the league.
It really is as simple as that.
Without Freeman, the Braves aren’t winning the division and they probably aren’t making the playoffs either. His numbers may not be the best in terms of the MVP candidates, but no other player can say that they made an impact of that magnitude to their team this season. Ultimately, that has to put Freeman over the top.
Marilee Gallagher is a writer for RantSports.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MGallagher17 like her page on Facebook, or join her network on Google.