As the 2020 Atlanta Braves season came to an end, it has been one to remember for the Braves team and all of Braves Country. From the uncertainty of us even having a season to the 60 game season and then coming one win short of the World Series. This wild season brought with it a team of 28 guys who all contributed to a year that will not be forgotten. I will be breaking down the top performers for the Braves in 2020 and their contributions to a outstanding team.
MVP: Freddie Freeman
2020 Stats: .341 AVG, .462 OBP, .640 SLG, 1.102 OPS, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 2.9 WAR
My 2020 Braves MVP is without question Freddie Freeman. Freddie was diagnosed with Covid-19 3 weeks before the season started, and it wasn't easy at all. His temperature was up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, which if you don't know is very very high. He wasn't sure himself if he would even live, but thankfully he got through it. He got back to the team just in time for the start of the season, and played all 60 games. After a slow start to the season, Freddie went on a hot-streak. He went toe-to-toe with Juan Soto for the N.L Batting Title, but fell just short. If Freddie kept up these numbers, he would have a career year statistically. Freddie will likely win N.L MVP with these numbers. Congrats Freddie!
Cy Young: Max Fried
2020 Stats: 11 G, 7-0, 2.25 ERA, 56 IP, 50 K, 1.08 WHIP, 2.9 WAR
Max Fried entered the 2020 Season under the impression that he would be a solid Number 2 starter behind Mike Soroka. He started the season with 2 great starts against the Mets and Rays, until tragedy struck. Mike Soroka suffered a Torn Achilles on August 3rd and would need surgery and miss the rest of the season. All the pressure was on Fried to lead the rotation as the ace of the staff, and he delivered. He pitched like the ace the Braves needed and was in Cy Young contention until a minor injury in early September knocked him out of the race. He continued his trend of winning his decisions thanks to the offensive support. He has won 24 decisions since the start of 2019 season. Fried will enter the 2021 season in contention for the Opening Day starter, which could be Fried, Soroka if he's back healthy, or a offseason signing. What a year for the southpaw. Congrats Max!
Rookie of the Year: Ian Anderson
2020 Stats: 6 G, 3-2, 1.95 ERA, 32.1 IP, 41 K, 1.08 WHIP, 1.3 WAR
Ian Anderson started the 2020 Season at the Alternate Site in Gwinnett. Ian was pitching great in Gwinnett, but the front office mulled calling him up despite a destroyed rotation. Finally, after a 12 K performance in a intersquad scrimmage, he got the call, and he did not disappoint. He started his career by allowing 1 hit in 6 innings versus the Yankees. He followed that up with 8 strikeouts versus his childhood favorite Red Sox. The rest of the season was much the same for Anderson. He arrived to the postseason and pitched 18 consecutive shutout innings until giving up 2 runs in Game 7 of the NLCS. This did not take anything away from his accomplishments this year and he has solidified a spot in next year's rotation. Congrats Ian!
Reliever of the Year: A.J Minter
2020 Stats: 22 G, 1-1, 0.83 ERA, 21.2 IP, 24 K, 1.10 WHIP, 1.2 WAR
A.J Minter entered the 2020 Season coming off an abysmal 2019 season, where he had a 7.06 ERA. When he came in for his first appearance of 2020, I thought we would be getting 2019 A.J again. Fortunately, he proved me and the rest of Braves Country wrong. One big reason he had the bounce-back year he did was because he did not walk a lot of batters, unlike 2019. His BB/9 went from 7.1 in 2019 to 3.7 in 2020, a big difference. He finished the season with his first start since he was at Texas A&M when he started Game 5 of the NLCS. He struck out 7 of the 10 batters he faced in 3 innings. Glad to see the turnaround from A.J Minter. Congrats A.J!
Comeback Player of the Year: Tyler Matzek
2020 Stats: 21 G, 4-3, 2.79 ERA, 29 IP, 43 K, 1.13 WHIP, 0.9 WAR
When Tyler Matzek arrived to Spring Training in February, it was an experience he hadn't felt in years. Matzek was drafted with the 11th pick in the 2009 Draft by the Rockies, drafted before Mike Trout. He arrived to the big leagues in 2013 and made 19 starts with a 4.05 ERA with Colorado. After 5 starts in 2014, he disappeared from the majors and suffered from the "yips", a condition where one cannot perform due to extreme nervousness. He had been considering retirement, but his wife convinced him to make a comeback, and he did. He pitched in independent ball, before the Braves bought his contract in 2019. He pitched in 7 games with a 7.43 ERA in AA and AAA in 2019, but it was enough to get him a spring training invite in February. He ended up making the 30-man roster in July, and he made the most of it. He did not allow a single run in his first 6 games. He ended up being one of our most used relievers in 2020 and has an incredible comeback story to get back to the big leagues. Congrats Tyler!
That concludes my 2020 Braves Awards. Would you change any of the award winners that I listed? Be sure to follow me on Instagram @braves.champion for some great content there as well as my articles here! Feel free to drop some suggestions for future articles! Thanks for reading!