Freeman beats out Betts, Machado for NL MVP

7:00 PM ET

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman easily won the NL MVP award Thursday, topping off a trying year that saw him become so ill with COVID-19 he prayed “please don’t take me.”

Freeman got 28 of the 30 first-place ballots in voting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts got the other two firsts to finish second and San Diego third baseman Manny Machado was third.

In a season affected from spring training to the World Series by the pandemic, perhaps it was fitting the final major award of the year went to someone infected by the virus.

Three weeks before the delayed opening day in late July, Freeman’s body temperature spiked at 104.5 degrees and he lost his sense of taste and smell. At one point, he recalled, he said a little prayer because “I wasn’t ready.”

The 31-year-old star bounced back in a big way, batting .341 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs while playing all 60 games. A powerful lefty batter with the ability to spray the ball all over the field, he led the majors in hitting 23 doubles and scoring 51 runs.

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