Freddie Freeman: “I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

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According to FanGraphs, the only team in the major leagues projected to finish worse than the Braves (71-91) are the division rival Phillies (68-94). Don’t tell Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, though. Despite a new-look team now bereft of productive veterans such as Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Evan Gattis, Freeman still thinks his team will end up being competitive in 2015. He even went as far as to say, “I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

Via MLB.com’s Mark Bowman:

“It’s going to be different than what I’m used to, but it’s exciting,” Freeman said. “We’ve got a whole different team. Obviously as a person and a friend, it’s tough to see your friends leave — especially with Jason leaving. We’ve got Shelby [Miller] here now and we’ve got a lot of young talent. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

Aside from the Nationals, the NL East is not particularly strong, so inter-divisional play against the Phillies, Mets, and Marlins could inflate their win total more than we might expect. But even that’s a generous interpretation of the Braves’ chances.

Mike Trout voted 2019 American League Most Valuable Player

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The Baseball Writers Association of America voted Angels outfielder Mike Trout the Most Valuable Player in the American League for the 2019 season. He received 17 of 30 first-place votes, earning the third AL MVP Award of his career.

Trout, 28, missed the final three weeks of the season due to a foot injury, but his numbers were still strong enough to overcome the competition. He led the majors with a .438 on-base percentage and a 185 adjusted OPS, and led the AL with a .645 slugging percentage and 1.083 OPS. He also slugged 45 home runs, knocked in 104 runs, scored 110 runs, and stole 11 bases in 600 plate appearances. FanGraphs also gave him an edge over the competition in WAR at 8.6.

Trout, who also won the award in 2014 and ’16, is the third Angel to snag the hardware, joining Don Baylor (1979) and Vladimir Guerrero Sr. (2004). He is the 11th player to win three MVP awards, joining Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Álex Rodríguez, Stan Musial, Roy Campanella, Mike Schmidt, Albert Pujols, and Barry Bonds. Bonds is the only player to have won the award more than three times, winning a whopping seven MVP awards.

Alex Bregman finished in a close second place followed by Marcus  Semien, DJ LeMahieu, and Xander Bogaerts. Also receiving votes were Matt Chapman, George Springer, Mookie Betts, Nelson Cruz, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Rafael Devers, Jorge Polanco, Austin Meadows, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, Gleyber Torres, Eddie Rosario, José Abreu, Max Kepler, J.D. Martinez, Yoán Moncada, Charlie Morton, Matt Olson, and Jorge Soler.