Braves' Freeman lobbies for teammate Riley in NL MVP race
If Freddie Freeman has his way, the National League MVP will go to an Atlanta Braves player for a second straight year. However, he's not looking to go back-to-back himself. Instead, Freeman's lobbying for more people to take note of slugging teammate Austin Riley.
"Everyone's (saying) Tatis and Harper, but he deserves to be right in there in that conversation," Freeman said Wednesday, according to 680TheFan's Kevin McAlpin. "It's special what he's doing. I'm excited because of how young he is and how good he is. He deserves (to be in) every MVP conversation."
Riley is in his third season with the Braves after rising through the ranks as a highly-touted third base prospect. He struggled through his first two seasons before breaking out in a big way this summer, hitting .303/.377/.535 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs in 137 games.
The 24-year-old ranks fourth in the NL in batting average, fifth in homers, and eighth in wRC+ (140) among qualified hitters entering Wednesday's slate.
Riley's bat has been especially potent in the second half as he's hit .348 with a 1.053 OPS and 15 long balls in 49 contests.
With less than a month remaining in MLB's regular campaign, Atlanta is nursing a 2 1/2-game lead in the NL East over the Philadelphia Phillies. If Riley stays hot and helps lead the Braves to a fourth consecutive division title, he could get serious consideration come award season.