Why No Love For Freeman? (Plus Some Eerie Stats!)

Hello everyone!

As I watch the first snowflakes of the season fall here in Michigan, I’ve been scouring the ‘net looking for anything interesting related to the Braves. Doing this, I discovered something that truly surprises me: The seeming lack of faith in Freddie Freeman (and am I the only one having trouble remembering which “Fred” spells his name which way?).

It seems to me that there is an inordinate amount of worrying going on about how Freddie will perform, especially considering that it seems to me that the worrying time would be better spent focused on all the Braves outfielders who could legally drink this time last year. Instead, I see people rationalizing the signing of all kinds of free agent first basemen as “insurance in case Freeman isn’t as good as advertised”, or words to that effect. I read people stating with certainty that Freeman will be lucky to hit .250, and that he can’t handle big-league pitching. I even had one relatively well-known (at least his website says he’s well-known!) evaluator of talent describe him as “lumbering” in the field and no threat to win a Gold Glove! All I can figure is that their research consists of a few clips of this past September and studying his stat line from the same period.

You can accuse me of being a “homer”, but I think a good case can be made to make like Bobby McFerrin and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. Bobby McFerrin\’s Thoughts On Freddie Freeman Need a little convincing? Say no more:

  • Freeman had a banner year in AAA last year, hitting .319/.378/.521, giving him an OPS of .899 to go along with 18 HR’s in 461 AB’s.   Considering that his OPS stood in the neighborhood of .750 at the start of June, he really mashed the rest of the year.  Keep in mind that he had an injured wrist for much of 2009, which may help explain his struggles early in the year as he worked on getting everything back in sync.
  • Freeman put up these numbers as a 20 year old (he turned 21 in September).  He was playing against older, more experienced competition whilst cleaning their clocks!
  • Freeman’s swing is deceptively short.  People assume (and I’ve seen it written) that his swing is long, I guess because he’s 6’5″ and 225.  Those of us who’ve seen him hit for any length of time know it’s not long.  But don’t be fooled; he can mash!  Ask Roy Halladay.  It would not surprise me at all if he hit 20+ HR’s in 2011, given the protection he’s going to get in the Braves lineup.
  • Want a reasonableness test?  Jason Heyward’s minor league stats over 3 seasons were .318/.391/.508, giving him an .899 OPS.  If you take out Freeman’s injury season of 2009, his 3 year minor league stats were .308/.362/.494, giving him an OPS of .856.  And, if you can believe this, his OBP was .378 for both of his full-year seasons.  That’s strange enough until you find out that his slugging for his two full-year seasons was an identical .521 in each season!  Identical OPS totals of .899 for those two seasons.  And the .899 OPS is identical to Heyward’s minor league  OPS.  I didn’t make this up! 

I am also certain that Freeman will be a well above average fielder.  He will catch anything thrown in his area code — and he covers a big area code!  I don’t see how anyone who’s seen him play even a few times can dispute this.

Negatives?  Well, he won’t kill lefties.  Premium left-handed pitchers will eat him up, as they will just about every other left-handed power hitter.  And it’s probably reasonable that it’ll take him some time to adjust to the majors.  I think this will be managed by the other Fred, with protection in the order combined with strategic days off.

I’m not worried.  How about you?

Topics: Atlanta Braves, Braves, Chipper Jones, Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward

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  • http://redwhiteandbraves.mlblogs.com/ Merlin

    Not worried at all. Freddie will field at the highest level almost immediately. He’s never had a problem catching the ball and his size makes him a perfect target at first base. I suspect he will have his ups and downs as a hitter starting well, slumping then recovering as he adjusts. I expect number’s something like Jason’s last year. I really hope no one expects him to be Mark Teixeira, or Ryan Howard. Eventually I think he’s closer to a John Olerude kind of player and we can certainly use that kind of guy on the team for a while.
    Oh and I separate the Fredi/Freddie mess by remembering that Freeman (2ds) is taller than Gonzales (1 d). Ok it’s silly but it works for me. :-)

    • Bob Horton

      Hi Merlin,

      Great tip on the “Two Head Freds”; I’m all for mnemonic devices!

      I agree with everything you’ve said. I think he’ll be a bit more powerful than Olerud, but I think it’s a fair comparison.

      Bob

  • Michael

    Freeman is not the answer at 1B; not now, not the following season, in fact, never. Freeman has not exactly torn up minor league pitchers. His past season is his best when he hit twice as many doubles as homeruns. He is young and that’s a plus. But Freeman is no Adrian Gonzalez. He probably isn’t a 40 year old Willie Montenez. The only slugger I can see Freeman out hitting is Ron Santo. Then again, Santo is in Heaven.

  • Michael

    Freedie Freeman is not the answer at first base for the Braves. In fact, Freeman is not even a 40 year old Willie Montenez. Fred’s best season is his last, and at 20 years old, Freeman is not ready to hit MLB pitching. I don’t see it. Though he hit twice as many doubles as homeruns 35-18), I can see Freeman putting up Adrian Gonzalez numbers when Gonzalez retires to the farm sucking tequila from Mama Cuba. Oh, Freeman will out hit Ron Santo. Of course, Santo is playing heavenly baseball right now.

  • Michael

    I apologize for the double posting. I did not realize it happened.

    Sorry Bob, love ya buddy, but that swing is not close to being short. Freeman’s swing is short compared to Adam LaRoche, the longest golf swing in the free world…but that’s it. He is not the answer.

    I hope I am dead wrong….love the Braves.

    • Bob Horton

      Hi Michael,

      I agree that LaRoche has a long swing; it has such a hitch in it that he has no chance against well-placed fastballs.

      As to Freddie, your thoughts are the exact reason I wrote the post. You are obviously not alone in your way of thinking. In this case, maybe we both hope that you are wrong!

      When you get a chance, take a look at Freddie’s normal swing (not his “I’m going to try to hit it a mile” swing, which he uses with some regularity) in slo-mo. You might be surprised at how quick it is through the zone. Not a pretty swing like Chipper’s, but not too bad, I think.

      Hey, thanks for coming around. Invite your friends; I’ll buy the beverages!

      Bob