Freddie Freeman gaining national recognition as MVP candidate

Freddie Freeman’s National League MVP case is gaining traction as the regular season winds down.

“I’ve seen on some of the shows they’ve done, talking about how Freddie is warranting all this attention,” manager Brian Snitker said. “And he probably hasn’t gotten the credit and attention he deserves for the elite player he is. He’s definitely in the same breath as all those guys.”

The Braves' first baseman entered Friday with a 32-game on-base streak. Since having a day off Aug. 5, he’s hit .401 with 10 homers, 39 RBIs and 33 runs scored in 37 games. He’s posted a 1.255 OPS in that span.

It’s easy to see why Freeman’s campaign has reached the national level. Consider his overall numbers: He leads the National League in average (.352) and RBIs (46). He’s tied for first in doubles (18) and second in hits (63). He’s second in runs (43), on-base percentage (.465) and slugging percentage (.648). He’s fourth in walks (36).

And Freeman is doing it for a team that has led the NL East in 44 of 56 days since the season began. Freeman has long been on the peripherals of MVP races, but if he continues surging over the final 10 games, this might finally be his breakthrough.

“He’s just a special player,” said rookie starter Ian Anderson, who’s seen Freeman up close for the past few weeks. “He loves the game. That’s the biggest thing. Obviously he’s a really good player, but he loves being out there. I didn’t realize how vocal he was with some of the guys on other teams. It just goes to show you how much fun he’s having out there.”

The Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. and the Dodgers' Mookie Betts join Freeman among the NL MVP front-runners. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will have more on Freeman’s MVP candidacy next week.

Notes from Friday:

- Left-hander Max Fried returned from the injured list to start Friday in New York. Fried won’t have any limitations moving forward, Snitker said. He missed one start because of a muscle spasm in his lumbar spine.

- Huascar Ynoa pitched four scoreless innings in his last start, against the Orioles, but left early with back tightness. Not only is he healthy, but the Braves would like to give him another start before season’s end.

“You’d kind of like to get him back out there, the way he’s throwing,” Snitker said. “I saw him walking around the halls and he looked fine. We need to get him back on the mound.”

Ynoa, 22, has made eight appearances (four starts). He has a 5.80 ERA with 16 strikeouts and 12 walks in 18-2/3 innings. He could potentially earn a spot on the team’s postseason roster.

- Since debuting in late August, Anderson has established himself as one of the Braves' best starters, earning a 1.64 ERA with a 27:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in four starts (22 innings). He’ll be relied upon in the postseason, when he’ll have no more than six career starts under his belt.

“I feel ready,” Anderson said. “I think it’s part of the whole progression, having the confidence to come up here and be ready to perform. That’s the next step (pitching in the playoffs). Just go out there and keep the mindset I’ve had this whole time. Give the team their best chance to win knowing the other guys are going to do the same.”

- Outfielder Ronald Acuna is on a cold streak entering Friday. He’s 1-for-21 across his past six games and hitless in his past four. He’s struck out 13 times in those 21 at-bats while drawing only three walks.

There’s certainly no reason to panic – Acuna has been a streaky player across his early career – and he has 10 games to settle in before the postseason. The Braves played the Mets three times this weekend before hosting the Marlins for four and the Red Sox to end the regular season.

“It’s just something these guys go through,” Snitker said. “They’re still figuring this whole thing out on a day-to-day basis. They’re all trying to achieve that consistency that a Freddie Freeman has.”