Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. is unanimous choice for NL MVP

Multi-purpose Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. was voted the National League Most Valuable Player award in unanimous fashion Thursday, it was announced on MLB Network.

Acuna is the ninth unanimous winner in NL history with Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals in 2015 being the most recent.

The American League’s Shohei Ohtani, was also a unanimous MVP choice, marking the first time players from both leagues swept the ballot in the same season.

Acuna, 25, was the first player in major league history to exceed 40 homers and 70 stolen bases in the same season. That milestone was among the exploits that helped him be a runaway winner as he received all 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters.

Asked what was more difficult to do, the homers or the steals, Acuna indicated it was the stolen bases because you have to get on base first before you can swipe a base.

He also said in comments interpreted by Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez that his next goal is to be baseball’s first 50-homer, 50-steals performer.

“Of course I do. God willing, I will be that 50-50 guy,” Acuna said.

Los Angeles Dodgers teammates Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman finished second and third, respectively. Betts received all 30 second-place votes while earning 270 points.

Freeman narrowly edged Atlanta’s Matt Olson for third. He received 227 points to Olson’s 223. Ironically, Olson was acquired from the Oakland Athletics before the 2022 season to replace Freeman, who departed the Braves as a free agent to Los Angeles.

Acuna batted .337 with 41 homers, 106 RBIs and 73 steals in 159 games. He led the majors with 149 runs, 217 hits and a .416 on-base percentage.

Acuna is the third Venezuelan-born MVP winner, joining Miguel Cabrera (2012, 2013) and Jose Altuve (2017). Cabrera and Altuve won their MVP awards in the AL.

Acuna is playing winter ball in Venezuela and appeared on MLB Network from the team clubhouse with family and Venezuelan teammates around him.

“I’m extremely privileged and happy to have this opportunity right along with them,” Acuna said through Martinez.

Acuna is the seventh different Braves player to win the award and the list includes Freeman (2020).

The others to win the award are Bob Elliott (1947), Hank Aaron (1957), Dale Murphy (1982, 1983) Terry Pendleton (1991) and Chipper Jones (1999).

Betts batted .307 with 39 homers and 107 RBIs in 152 games. He scored 126 runs and hit 40 doubles while being Los Angeles’ leadoff hitter.

Freeman led the majors with 59 doubles and had 90 extra-base hits. He batted .331 with 29 homers and 102 RBIs in 161 games.

Olson led the majors with 54 homers and 139 RBIs. He batted .283 and played in all 162 games for the third time in his career.

Corbin Carroll of the Arizona Diamondbacks placed fifth with 165 points. Carroll was named NL Rookie of the Year earlier this week.