But the honor is given to the player with the best individual season, which ultimately belonged to Braves’ superstar Ronald Acuña Jr., who beat out both Freeman and Betts to win his first MVP Award.
Betts collected all 30 second-place votes to finish second behind Acuña, who won unanimously. It’s the third time Betts has finished second in MVP voting in his career, and his second since joining the Dodgers in 2020. Freeman edged out Matt Olson of the Braves, finishing four points higher than the Atlanta first baseman in order to finish in the top three for the second time in his career.
While neither Betts nor Freeman took home the award, both were integral parts of the Dodgers winning 100 games for the fourth consecutive full season. Betts set a career high with 39 homers, and his versatility allowed the Dodgers to field the best lineup possible. The six-time Gold Glove winner in right field also played second base and some shortstop for the first time in his career.
By being able to play solid defense at a multitude of positions, Betts allowed Jason Heyward to have a resurgent season in right field, which also allowed the Dodgers to withstand some of the low offensive numbers from Miguel Rojas, who gave the club much better defense at shortstop.
Betts’ historic August, during which he posted a 1.355 OPS, catapulted him to the top of the MVP conversation heading into the final month of the season. For a couple of weeks, it appeared as though he was headed for his second career MVP, but a slow September ultimately ended his chances.
As for Freeman, the veteran first baseman put together one of the best offensive seasons in Dodgers history. He surpassed the 200-hit mark for the first time in his decorated career and finished with 29 homers and 59 doubles, which is a franchise record. He came one double shy of 60; it would have been the first time a player hit that mark since the 1930s.
Freeman’s impact since joining the Dodgers has also included instilling the culture of wanting to play every single game. Freeman started 161 of 162 games this season, missing only the contest after the Dodgers clinched the NL West title in Seattle.
In the end, Acuña’s season was too good to overcome, but it was still a year to remember for both Betts and Freeman.