Eric Graff: Freddie Freeman
Freddie has been the picture of consistency this season for the Braves, and he has been the best offensive player without a doubt. His lowest batting average month was .291 in June and lowest OPS month was .833 in April. He has been remarkably clutch for the Braves this season as well, hitting a ridiculous .443 with runners in scoring position. His K% went down and his BB% went up, both for the third season in a row. Simply put, Freeman was an offensive juggernaut this year. Freddie was in the top 10 of virtually every offensive category this season, and will almost surely get a top 5-10 finish in the National League MVP race. I’m not sure where the Braves would be without Freeman this season, which is what makes him their most valuable player to me. Runner-Up: Andrelton Simmons
Mark Kolar: Freddie Freeman
No question about this one. I’ve said before that Freddie Freeman will win a MVP award some day, and he may very well do that this year. Freddie’s season has been spectacular. Every time he came up with a chance to drive in a run, he did it. His numbers with runners in scoring position speak to that. I don’t remember a time this year when Freddie even hit a slump. More than anything, he is the Braves’ MVP because there were times when he needed to carry the team, and he did. With B.J. Upton and Uggla struggling all season, McCann and Heyward missing significant time points in the season, Freeman was there to carry the Braves forward. Runner-up: Chris Johnson
Brad Rowland: Andrelton Simmons
I have a feeling that I may be the only one who goes in this direction, but Andrelton Simmons has been incredible. Not only did he lead the team in bWAR by a wide margin (6.7 to Freeman’s 5.4), but he nearly topped Freeman on FanGraphs as well (4.7 to Freeman’s 4.8). Simmons has just completed one of the best defensive seasons in MLB history, and with that, his value has been immense. I’m not sure that people adequately value defense, even if everyone agrees that he’s fantastic, but if you count defense as half of a player’s performance, it’s tough to not pick Simmons.
One underrated subplot of Simmons’ value is the fact that he plays between two disasters on defense. Chris Johnson and Dan Uggla are arguably the worst players at their respective positions, but Simmons masked them to the point where infield defense wasn’t a weakness, and that is amazing. Throw in a power surge that brought him to 17 home runs, and Baseball-Reference has Simmons as one of the 5 most valuable players in the NL, and one of the top 10 in baseball. He’s my choice. Runner-up: Freddie Freeman
Harris Nye: Andrelton Simmons
This came down to either the otherworldly defense of Andrelton Simmons or the team best offensive production of Freddie Freeman.
Fangraphs rated Freeman as being slightly more valuable than Simmons while according to baseball reference Simmons was the more valuable player. Freeman put up a Chipper Jones like slash line of .319/.396/.501 and was the Braves best and most consistent hitter all season. Simmons was the best defensive player in baseball, saving 41 runs above average to easily lead the league. In the end, I went with Simmons for team MVP because while Freeman was a very good hitter, Simmons had a historically great season on defense. His defensive runs saved were an MLB record since the stat started being recorded and his baseball reference defensive wins above replacement was the highest number in the history of baseball. Simmons was a major reason why the Braves allowed the fewest runs in baseball despite an infield defense that featured two of the worst players in the league at their respective positions. While defensive metrics are not as precise as offensive metrics, the numbers make the argument at least plausible that Simmons had the greatest defensive season in baseball history.
While Freeman had a great year nothing he did was historically dominant. As a result Simmons was the Braves MVP for 2013.
Drew Wilburn: Andrelton Simmons
I’m not going to lie to you guys. I’m pretty torn between Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons on this one. While Freddie has probably been the most consistent bat behind the plate this season and has come up big in some clutch situations, I have to choose Andrelton Simmons for the Braves MVP.
Simmons’ defense is a thing of beauty. He makes all of the routine plays and makes several plays that nobody should be able to make. In fact, he makes plays that many shortstops struggle with look easy. Statistically speaking, he has put up the best season of all time defensively. His defensive WAR is tied with Terry Turner’s 1906 season for tops all-time in a single season, and his 41 defensive runs saved shattered the previous record. There is no comparison to the type of season that Simmons has had defensively, and he has been a tremendous asset to the Braves this season. The Braves would not be the same team at all if it were not for his defense. As a side note, Simmons did have 17 home runs this season to go along with a .248 batting average. These aren’t numbers to write home about, but his bat came around a bit more toward the end of the season. Given his youth, if he can develop a little bit more as a hitter, then Simmons could be a perennial NL MVP candidate. Runner Up: Freddie Freeman