Freddie Freeman was a repeat winner of the Brave of the Year Award as the team’s top player in 2017, edging Ender Inciarte in voting by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
In winning for the third time in five seasons, Freeman received five votes, one more than All-Star center fielder Inciarte.
Freeman also was named Monday as the Braves’ finalist for the Hank Aaron Award that goes to the top offensive performer in each league.
Despite missing seven weeks before the All-Star break with a fractured wrist, Freeman led the Braves with 28 home runs and ranked sixth in the major leagues in OPS (.989) while batting .307 with career-bests in on-base percentage (.403) and slugging percentage (.586).
He tied Colorado’s Nolan Arenado for the National League’s third-base slugging percentage and became the third different Braves player in the Atlanta era (since 1966) to post .400-or-better on-base percentages in consecutive seasons and first since Chipper Jones in 2007-2008.
“It was almost like three (different) seasons for me,” Freeman said before Sunday’s season finale at Miami. “Did what I wanted to do before I broke my wrist, then not very consistent and OK in the second (part), then the last week and a half I haven’t been able to do anything since I got hit with the flu.”
No NL player got off to a better start in 2017 than Freeman, who hit .341 with a league-leading 14 homers, 25 RBIs and a stunning 1.209 OPS in 37 games before fracturing his left wrist when struck by a fastball on May 17.
He returned July 4, three weeks sooner than initially expected, and hit .313 with 12 homers, 43 RBIs and a .940 OPS in his first 62 games back from the disabled list through Sept. 12, his 28th birthday.
While dealing with weakness in the wrist and then a bout with the flu that caused him to lose nine pounds, Freeman hit .215 with two homers, three RBIs and a .707 OPS in his final 18 games after Sept. 12.
“Just kind of crawling to the end for me,” he said before getting a double and triple in the last game of the season Sunday. “But hopefully with a whole offseason of rest and strengthening I’ll get back to where I was before I broke my wrist.”