It took us a while to get here, but Spring Training is almost in the books and Opening Day for the Atlanta Braves is just a couple of days away. As is tradition around these parts, it is time for our season predictions. We will be rolling those out over the next couple of days so be sure to check back.
Who will be the Braves position player MVP?
Kris: The Braves should have a very deep lineup in 2022 and no shortage of MVP candidates. While Ronald Acuña Jr. is the easy answer here as he was on his way to an MVP caliber season in 2021 before he suffered a knee injury, I’m going with the new guy in Matt Olson. Olson is coming off of a career-best season in 2021 and is now moving into a more hitter friendly environment with more threats around him. I expect him to be a frequent visitor to the Chop House and is going to put up a monster season.
Eric: This Braves’ lineup is loaded and while it wouldn’t be completely wild to see someone else get this like Olson, Ozzie, Riley, etc., Ronald Acuna Jr. is one of the absolute best players in baseball when he is on the field. He has looked awesome rehabbing and it sounds like he will be back out there by the beginning of May. Even missing the first month or so of the season, he could win the NL MVP this year.
Stephen: Sometimes the obvious answer is the obvious answer for a reason. Acuña was going to be the runway NL MVP last year before tearing his ACL and has shown he’s basically a cyborg when it comes to returning from injury. At some point we are going to see the 9 or 10-Win season from him that we all know is coming and there’s no time like the present. I’ll take Acuña for team MVP and NL MVP.
Ivan: I’m going with Ronnie, even with the ding to his playing time and PAs that comes with his return from injury. The evolution of his hitting has been impressive to follow, and after about 600 PAs of near-160 wRC+ hitting (with some xwOBA underperformance to boot despite so many dingers), you wonder what he’s gonna do next, and how much it’s going to ruin other teams’ pitching lines.
DJourn: I am an unabashed Albies guy, so I’ll go with Ozzie. He’s proven he can hit for power and he has shown he can be a solid OBP guy. But thus far, he hasn’t been able to do both in the same season … that changes in 2022 when he puts both of those skills together and ends up with a Top 5 NL MVP season.
Brad: I’m picking Ozzie Albies to win the NL MVP, so I guess I should pick him to win the team MVP too. Albies has three excellent seasons under his belt and, at the age of 25, he might be due to put it ALL together. It will have to be a non-traditional MVP case since he isn’t likely to lead the league in anything, but the power/speed/defense combination goes a long way.
Demetrius: It’s going to be Acuña. Like my fellow writers mentioned, he’s going to miss a month but I honestly don’t think he’s going to miss too much of a beat at the plate once he returns. If he does indeed pick up where he left off last year, then watch out. I’m really excited to see what this lineup can do in 2022 but I’m especially excited to see Acuña back out there since the sky is still the limit when it comes to this.
Scott: I’ll share the love a little bit and go with Matt Olson. I realize many fans on the east coast aren’t overly acquainted with Olson as his games often wrapped up at 1 in the morning with Oakland, but the guy brings absurd power and figures to have a boatload of counting stats. I won’t be surprised if he finishes near the top of the NL MVP race.
Cassidy: I’m going to go with Austin Riley to have an encore after an incredible 2021 campaign. He just looks the most confident and comfortable I’ve seen him with the strike zone awareness and power to all fields. The sky’s the limit.
Daniel: Seems like the best answer is clearly Ronald. He was on an absurd pace last season, is one of the best players in baseball, and is expected to play most of the season. ACL injuries aren’t the concern that they used to be with modern medicine, especially with the high end treatment that athletes have access to.
Wayne: I am going with Austin Riley. Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna, Jr. are kind of cemented in their positions. Albies is one of the best second basemen in baseball and healthy Acuna is one of the best overall. They are expected to perform at an MVP level (and will). But this team does have to replace some of those Freddie Freeman numbers and presence, and while Matt Olson can help, I think it will be Riley who proves some of his doubters wrong and does in fact build on last year’s performance.