Braves’ Riley finishes 7th, Freeman 9th in NL MVP voting

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and third baseman Austin Riley come together with teammates before a playoff game. Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com
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Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and third baseman Austin Riley come together with teammates before a playoff game. Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Shohei Ohtani was unanimiously voted American League MVP on Thursday for a two-way season not seen since Babe Ruth, and Bryce Harper earned the National League honor for the second time.

Braves third baseman Austin Riley finished seventh in the NL voting and first baseman Freddie Freeman, last season’s MVP, was ninth. Riley hit .303 with 33 homers and 107 RBIs. Freeman had a .300 average and 31 home runs and 83 RBIs for the world champion Braves. Freeman is a free agent.

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Ohtani received all 30 first-place votes and 420 points in voting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Toronto first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was second with 29 seconds and 269 points, and Blue Jays infielder Marcus Semien was third with 232 points. Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez got the other second-place vote.

Ohtani hit .257 with 46 homers, 100 RBIs and a .965 OPS as the Los Angeles Angels’ full-time designated hitter, and he went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts with 156 strikeouts and 44 walks in 130 1/3 innings. It was the first full season on the mound for the 27-year-old right-hander following Tommy John surgery in 2019.

Ohtani won AL Rookie of the Year in 2018 after leaving the Pacific League's Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters to sign with the Angels. This year he became the first two-way starter in the history of the All-Star Game, which began in 1933.

Ruth had just two seasons in which he thrived at the plate while pitching regularly. He batted .300 with 11 homers and 61 RBIs in 1918 while going 13-7 with a 2.22 ERA for Boston, then hit .322 with 29 homers and 113 RBIs in 1919 while going 9-5 with a 2.97 ERA. Ruth was sold to the Yankees that December and made just five mound appearances in his final 16 seasons.

Harper received 17 of 30 first-place votes and 348 points from a separate panel. Washington outfielder Juan Soto was second with six firsts and 274 points, and San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. was third with two firsts and 244 points.

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Harper overcame getting hit in the face with a 97 mph pitch from Génesis Cabrera of the St. Louis Cardinals on April 28 to bat .309 with 35 homers for Philadelphia. The 29-year-old led the major leagues with a .465 slugging percentage and 1.044 OPS, tied for the lead with 42 doubles and had 84 RBIs.

But the Phillies missed the playoffs for the third straight season since he signed a $330 million, 13-year contract. He earned a $500,000 bonus for winning MVP.

Harper was voted a unanimous MVP with Washington in 2015. He became the fifth player to win MVPs for different teams after Jimmie Foxx, Frank Robinson, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez.