The 2021 MLB regular season will get underway on Thursday and that means it is time for annual predictions on what is in store this season for the Atlanta Braves. We will be rolling out our picks every day from now until Opening Day, so be sure to check back. Also, let us know what you think in the comments below. Let’s get to it!
Who will be the Braves’ position player MVP in 2021?
Scott: Ronald Acuna Jr. has been pretty incredible during his first three seasons. This feels like the year he’s about to go nuclear. He looks to be in tremendous shape this spring and has hopefully put his wrist ailment behind him. Freddie Freeman is as good a bet as any, but I’ll take the kid.
Eric: Gotta go with RAJ here. I would not be shocked if it were Freddie or Ozuna, but what we saw out of them in 2020 seems to be the peak outcome for both of them whereas it feels like Ronnie is just on a crazy trajectory. That there is a fairly reasonable chance that he gets 40/40 this season tells you all you need to know about his talent and upside. I’ll bet on that.
Daniel: Sorry to go with the obvious answer here, but the answer has to be Ronald Acuna Jr. and it isn’t super close. Acuna’s 2020 season was pretty wild because despite losing 0.030 off his batting average, his on base percentage rose about 0.040 and he had a career best 158 wRC+. This shift came on the back of a huge spike in his walk rate and absurd power production (.331 ISO). If Ronald can stay healthy, I think this will be a next level season from him, with potential for some major historical accomplishments.
Ivan: I’ll run against the current this time and take, well, the current MVP. It’ll probably be really close, but the Braves have been more loath to take Freeman out of the lineup relative to his teammates, which should help give him a slight edge as far as value accumulation. That and, looking back on the 2020 season, all I could think of was that quote from a ways back, when he declared, “They got nothing to get me out with.”
Kris: I believe Ronald Acuña Jr. is primed for a huge season and that this is the year he captures the first of several National League MVP Awards. Over the last year, it feels like he has been overshadowed by Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto, but this will be the season where he re-enters the discussion of the best young players in the league. I think a 40-40 season is in reach and he may have everyone dreaming of what a 50-50 campaign might look like.
Brent: Rather than spend my answer telling you why it will be Acuna or Freeman (it probably will), I’ll zig where the others zagged and go with Ozzie Albies. He’s capable of winning both a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove, and he just keeps getting better against RHP (career high .860 OPS in ‘20). He’s been a 4-5 win player for his career, so going one step further wouldn’t surprise anyone.
Shawn: Ronald Acuna Jr. seems to be the biggest source of needed impact this season. It is hard to say “this feels like the season he is going to put it all together” because he has already done that. However, now healthy and in a regular routine, I feel Acuna Jr. is going to make it a point to do all that he can to win as much as possible. We saw how much he embraced and enjoyed being on the postseason stage once again last year, and now with plenty of experience, it feels that now is the time for Acuna to be the difference maker to put the Braves in a position to win a World Series.
AB: Ronald Acuña is your National League MVP. With all credit to Tatis and Soto, this is his to lose barring injury. I don’t know that there is a player more locked in and comfortable than Ronald right now. He might be the first player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases while making it look easy.
Dillon: The Braves have the reigning NL MVP and yet it feels relatively easy to pick Ronald Acuña here. He brings so much value in every facet of the game, but still seems to have untapped potential. Acuña belongs in the MVP conversation and should remain there for the foreseeable future.
Cory: The reigning MVP is in a contract year, and inexplicably, he’s said the Braves haven’t even approached him about an extension? Freddie Freeman is the safe answer, but now that we’re back to 162-games, comes another bid at 40/40, and for that reason it’s going to Ronald Acuña Jr. He’ll reach the home run plateau, easy, but history tells us the steals will be a different story. Only one of the 12 players that had 40-plus HRs and had 30 or more steals in a season came back with at least 30 swipes the next full season. Nonetheless, take a challenge for 6-plus fWAR and top-three MVP finish to the bank.
Wayne: It’s nice when you look at a roster and have a really tough time figuring out who the offensive MVP will be. While it’s hard to go against Ronald Acuña, Jr., I am sticking with Freddie Freeman. Acuña and Ozzie Albies bring the young fire, Marcell Ozuna and Austin Riley bring the muscle, and Freddie just puts it all together. There’s a reason he was the NL MVP — he’s the leader of one of the best teams in all of baseball.
Demetrius: The fact that Ronald Acuña is the obvious choice in a lineup that’s already pretty deep really says more about just how good Acuña figures to be on his own merits. I could definitely see Freddie Freeman and/or Marcell Ozuna building on their 60-game sprint stats and claiming this title, but if Acuña stays healthy and continues to improve then the sky is the limit for him. Kevin Seitzer’s comments about how Acuña’s swing has been looking were absolutely encouraging and while spring training looks may be enticing, those picturesque homers really can’t be ignored. Let me be yet another blogger suggesting that a 40/40 season is absolutely in play for Acuña this season.
Gaurav: Ronald José Acuña Blanco Jr. What hasn’t been said about him already? A supreme talent by every definition of the word - Ronald enters 2021 as one of the favorites to win the the NL MVP. Despite hitting just .167 during spring training Ronald has a .803 OPS heavily influenced by the fact that 6 of his 7 hits this spring have been extra-base hits, and 5 of those 6 have been homers. If he stays healthy he easily has a chance to lead the league or the majors in fWAR with his unique combination of absurd power, and speed.
Matt: As much as I want to say Ronald Acuña Jr., I just can’t pick against the reigning National League MVP himself, Freddie Freeman. It’s almost as if Freddie keeps improving every year at this point and it should be exciting to see what he does for an encore. It’s also worth noting Marcell Ozuna, who was quietly very, very close to a Triple Crown last year.