Freeman, Acuña in familiar spot: ASG starters

July 2nd, 2021

ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman’s season didn’t begin auspiciously. But the reigning National League MVP will still once again find himself sharing a starting role with Braves teammate Ronald Acuña Jr. at this year’s All-Star Game.

Freeman and Acuña were both elected to be in the NL’s starting lineup for the Midsummer Classic, which will be played July 13 at Coors Field. The Braves teammates were also starters when the All-Star Game was last played in 2019.

“Congratulations to both of those guys, it’s well deserved,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Hopefully, Ozzie [Albies] gets recognized for the half that he has had.” 

This will be the third straight ASG that will feature two Braves in the starting lineup. Nick Markakis and Freeman were both elected starters in 2018. This is the first time Atlanta has had the same two players start consecutive All-Star Games since Hank Aaron and Joe Torre in 1966 and ’67.

Freeman’s 4-year-old son Charlie has been badgering his dad over the past few weeks saying he wanted to go to the All-Star Game to meet Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis. Acuña is the young Freeman’s favorite Braves player beyond his father. 

“I'm just happy to make it so Charlie can go and meet some more players,” Freeman said. “That's what makes it exciting for me is having my son be more excited than I am.”

Albies was the only other Braves player who was a finalist for a starting spot. He was the leading vote-getter among second basemen during Phase 1 of voting. But his bid to be elected a starter for the first time was erased when he was beaten by the Pirates’ Adam Frazier in Phase 2 of the balloting process.

With Albies ranking second in the NL with 43 extra-base hits, there’s seemingly a good chance he’ll gain a second career selection when the reserves are announced on Sunday. 

Acuña garnered more votes than any other National League player during Phase 1 of the voting. But the leading vote-getter in Phase 2 was Tatis.

Acuña and the Reds’ duo of Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker will serve as the NL’s starting outfielders. Cincinnati and Atlanta are the only NL clubs with multiple representatives in the starting lineup.

This will be the second All-Star appearance for Acuña, who went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts in 2019.

Acuña entered Thursday hitting .280 with 22 homers and a .987 OPS. His 3.7 fWAR (Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement Model) ranked second in the NL, trailing only Tatis (4.0)

Freeman is now a five-time All-Star, and will be serving as the NL’s starting first baseman for the third straight time. He entered Thursday hitting .261 with 17 homers and a .843 OPS. He hit .373 with a 1.024 OPS over the final 18 games of June.

“After the start I had, to be in this situation again, it really is satisfying,” Freeman said. “I’ve really been trying to grind and pick it up. The past couple weeks, balls are starting to fall for me.”