LOS ANGELES -- When the Dodgers signed Freddie Freeman as a free agent before the 2022 season, the baseball world knew Los Angeles would have a pair of perennial Most Valuable Player contenders atop its lineup for at least six seasons.
That’s exactly what happened in 2023, as Freeman and Mookie Betts had career seasons and positioned themselves for a chance at winning their second MVP Awards.
Finalists for each major individual award were announced on MLB Network on Monday. Freeman and Betts were both announced as finalists for NL MVP, along with Braves superstar Ronald Acuña Jr.
The Dodgers are also represented in the NL Rookie of the Year race, as James Outman is one of the three finalists, along with Mets ace Kodai Senga and D-backs star Corbin Carroll.
Freeman, Betts and Outman being recognized as BBWAA awards finalists comes as no surprise. Being a finalist guarantees that all three players finished in the top three of the voting. MVP winners will be announced Thursday, Nov. 16, while Rookie of the Year winners will be announced on Tuesday, Nov. 14, both at 3 p.m. PT on MLB Network.
While Acuña had a historic season, both Betts and Freeman made quite a case for MVP as well. Freeman set the Dodgers’ franchise record with 59 doubles this season and came one two-bagger away from becoming just the seventh player in Major League history with 60 in a season. Freeman, who reached the 2,000-hit mark and joined the 300-homer club this season, finished with 29 home runs and 102 RBIs. The star first baseman also recorded a career-high 211 hits in what was his first 200-hit season.
But perhaps most importantly for Freeman is that he led the Dodgers with 23 stolen bases, a .331 batting average and started 161 of 162 regular-season games.
As for Betts, the seven-time All-Star truly showed his superstar status for the first time over a full 162-game season since joining the Dodgers in 2020. Led by a dominant August when he hit 11 home runs and posted a 1.355 OPS, Betts set a career high with 39 homers. His .307 batting average was his highest since he hit .346 en route to winning American League MVP in ‘18.
On defense, Betts was perhaps more valuable to his team than any other player in the big leagues due to his versatility.
Betts, who has played mostly right field since becoming a big leaguer in 2014, played 70 games at second base this season and also started 12 games at shortstop because of the team’s need at that position. As he bounced around all three positions, Betts made just five errors.
Unfortunately for both Betts and Freeman, they weren’t able to perform at the required level during the postseason. Freeman recorded just one hit in the three-game sweep at the hands of the D-backs in the NL Division Series, while Betts went hitless in a postseason series for the first time in his career. MVP voting, of course, ended before the start of the postseason.
In NL Rookie of the Year voting, Outman will have his work cut out for him, with Carroll entering as the heavy favorite. But Outman’s rookie season was a terrific development for the Dodgers. Outman wasn’t predicted to make the team out of Spring Training, but a season-ending injury to Gavin Lux opened the door for a left-handed bat on the roster. Outman ran with the opportunity and played in 145 games in the outfield this season, including 135 in center field.