Results for National League MVP voting will be announced Thursday night, and even though Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr. is the favorite to take home the award, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman have already pulled off a rarity in Dodgers history.
Betts and Freeman are the ninth set of Dodgers teammates to each finish in the top three of MVP voting in the same season, and the first duo to do so since Steve Garvey and Mike Marshall in 1974. It is indicative of just how good Betts and Freeman were this season.
That neither player did much of anything in the NL Division Series was stunning, combining for only one infield single (by Freeman) in 21 at-bats. The engine that drove the first 900-run offense in Los Angeles Dodgers history stalled, one of a myriad of reasons the 100-win Dodgers got swept in three games.
We can debate how those three terrible games will affect how the 2023 seasons for Betts and Freeman might be viewed, but the MVP is a regular season award, with votes due before the playoffs begin. And their regular seasons were magnificent.
Betts hit .307/.408/.579 with a 167 wRC+, all of those numbers his highest since winning American League MVP with Boston in 2018. He set a career high with 39 home runs, and for the seventh time hit 40 doubles. His 107 RBI were the most by any player out of the leadoff spot in MLB history.
Betts also added to his and the Dodgers’ versatility by regularly playing second base against right-handers in addition to his usual defensive duties in right field. He even started 12 times at shortstop, his first time at the position in the majors.
Freeman shared the Dodgers record with 59 doubles, matching the most in a season by any major league player in the last 87 years. Freeman led the majors with 90 extra-base hits, setting an Los Angeles Dodgers record. He set another LA record with 131 runs scored, all while hitting .331/.410/.567 with 29 home runs.
Both won a National League player of the month award this year. Freeman won in May, hitting .400/.462/.722 with 17 doubles. Betts went supernova in August (.455/.516/.839, 11 HR) with one of the best months in Dodgers history.
By FanGraphs WAR, Betts (8.3) and Freeman (7.9) have the ninth- and 10th-best seasons by a position player in the 140-year history of the Dodgers. Only two other Dodgers teams had two position players with at least 7 fWAR, both in Brooklyn:
- 1951: Jackie Robinson (9.0), Roy Campanella (7.1)
- 1953: Duke Snider (8.8), Campanella (7.7)
Betts had the same WAR in the Baseball Reference version (8.3). Freeman’s bWAR (6.5) was lower than at FanGraphs, but still good enough for fourth in the NL, behind Betts, Acuña, and Matt Olson. But the duo’s rarity remains mostly the same.
Before Betts and Freeman in 2023, the Los Angeles Dodgers never had position-player teammates each with at least 6 bWAR. The last pair in franchise history came in 1956 (Snider, Jim Gilliam), one of eight seasons with multiple 6-bWAR position players for Brooklyn, including five times in eight years during the ‘Boys of Summer’ era.