José Abreu and Freddie Freeman win MVPs
Award week concluded Thursday night with the biggest award of the season, MVP, being handed out. It is obviously a different kind of award being handed out this year given the shortened season, and as a result we got a pair of first basemen winning the award for the first time since 2006 when Justin Morneau and Ryan Howard won.
This time around the divisions were the same for each league as well, with the American League winner coming out of Chicago with José Abreu. I personally would have went with José Ramírez, but it’s hard to argue too much with Abreu’s qualifications. The White Sox slugger was a huge presence in the middle of the lineup for a Chicago team that was, at times, the best team in the American League. He ended up hitting .317/.370/.617 for a 167 wRC+.
Abreu received 21 of the 30 first-place votes, with Ramírez getting eight and finishing second and the final one going to third-place finisher DJ LeMahieu. Two Red Sox players received one vote each, with Alex Verdugo getting a fifth-place vote while Xander Bogaerts got a tenth-place vote. The former’s fifth-place vote was one of the more controversial of the evening — it came from the Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams — though while I certainly would not have had him that high on my ballot I can’t bring myself to get worked up over down-ballot MVP votes these days. McWilliams also cast the vote for Bogaerts.
On the other side, things weren’t quite as close as Freddie Freeman was the runaway winner. The Braves were one of the most-feared lineups in baseball for much of the season, and Freeman was the biggest reason why. The first baseman, who had very serious COVID symptoms right before the season, has long been one of the best all-around hitters in the game and put it all together in this shortened season. He hit .341/.462/.640 for a 187 wRC+. Only Juan Soto had a higher wRC+ among qualified hitters in baseball, and he played in 13 fewer games. (Normally that’s a negligible difference, but in a 60-game season 13 games is not insignificant.)
Freeman was almost a unanimous winner but didn’t quite get there, garnering 28 of the 30 first-place votes. The other two went to our dear old friend Mookie Betts, who finished second in the voting. Manny Machado was the third-place finisher. The most notable down-ballot vote here was for reliever Ryan Tepera, who got a bizarre tenth-place vote from Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It ended up being an accident, as he meant to vote for Trea Turner. Personally, I feel like if you accidentally vote for a guy you keep it to yourself. The player is already being roasted as an undeserving vote-getter. Don’t pour salt on the wound!
Angels hire Perry Minasian
The Angels have been looking for a new GM, but their search ended on Thursday as they officially hired former Braves assistant general manager Perry Minasian. This is one of the most interesting jobs for a GM out there, as they already have the best player in the game in Mike Trout to build around, as well as Shohei Ohtani and a top prospect in Jo Adell who just made his debut this past summer. So there are some pieces. However, they have not been able to get over the top and into the postseason since 2014, and there is not a ton of help in the farm system from which they can deal to improve their pitching staff. I won’t pretend like I know a ton about Minasian, but they will be a team to watch this winter. And to bring the Red Sox into it a bit, if they are to compete this year it’d likely be for a wildcard spot, where the Angels will likely be involved as well.