Player Projection 2014: Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman was poised for a breakout season.

The big Braves first baseman had already shown his growth as player in 2012 amongst the more saber friendly statistics, but in 2013, Freeman made a case to be a household name, slashing .319/.396/.501 while tying his career high 23 home runs and collecting 109 RBI’s.

I’m not going to ignore Freeman’s uncanny ability to hit with runners in scoring position (a whopping .443/.541/.695!), but I am also not putting any stock in these superficial numbers. I’m going to project “Eddie Free”‘s 2014 growth by taking a look at where he has already come into his own.

For those unfamiliar with these statistics, or for the “tl;dr” crowd: Freddie Freeman has steadily been walking more, striking out less, and hitting fewer balls into the ground. There isn’t much more I can say about Freeman’s offense, as this is a classic example of a maturing player. If he continues to keep his walks up, strikeouts down, and hitting more line drives than grounders, he will continue to succeed. His BABIP rate is slightly inflated over the rate he posted in 2011 and 12, but not so much that you can call it luck; Freeman has worked hard and it has paid off.

One thing I do not personally project Freeman to do is post better power numbers going forward. Although he has already broken the expectations he came up with, projecting more as a doubles hitter while only tallying 50 homers in 1771 minor league plate appearances, Freeman is a natural line drive hitter.

freddie freeman spray chart

freeman iso

I don’t see Freeman’s 2013 as any sort of fluke, but more as a logical benchmark for his career expectations. Freeman may never exceed 25 home runs, but as long as his weird combination of being patiently aggressive at the plate stays the course, we can expect more of the same for him in the future.

On the defensive side of the game, Freeman has garnered both praise and criticism from casual and saber guys alike. One of the strongest points of Freeman’s defensive game, which can’t be truly shown via statistics, is his ability to dig balls out of the dirt with relative ease. He uses his 6’5″ frame to the full extent, being able to stretch to catch a throw sooner, or to turn one of Dan Uggla‘s many odd throws into outs. But Freeman’s height also limits his range in the field. Freeman turned in his first positive UZR rating in 2013, logging a 2.6, and that seems like his ceiling. Freeman is not Paul Goldschmidt, but he is also no David Ortiz. He is a more than capable fielder, if unspectacular.

In Conclusion:

I expect more of the same from Freddie Freeman in 2013. He’s really found his niche in the MLB, and the more he sticks to his plan instead of trying to become a stereotypical first basemen, the better. His slight lack of mobility in the field is easily balanced out by his uncanny ability to turn garbage into outs. More walks, less strikeouts, and more line drives are the best indicators of a pure hitter. I’m going out on a limb and projecting his 2014 slash line:

.308/.387/.497, 22 home runs, 84 RBI.

I look forward to referencing this article many times over the season, and I hope I’m right.

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Freddie Freeman Projection

  • carpengui

    Well, there IS one fangraphs stat that attempts to quantify the dug-out-of-the-dirt stat for first basemen specifically: “Scp” (Scoops). Freddie was 2nd best in baseball with this one last year with 55 scoops in 1290.2 innings.

    (Paul Goldschmidt was first with 74 (1446 innings); Todd Helton matched Goldschmidt in scoops-per-inning, but with a lot fewer innings played)

    • Chris Headrick

      I’m glad you pointed that stat out. Not to dis Freddie at all, because in fact Freddie is probably my favorite Brave, but I do hear casual fans often say Freddie is the best at 1B, he should’ve started the All-Star game, etc. etc. Freddie is unquestionably good, but Goldschmidt was considerably better last year. Furthermore, Brandon I’m glad you pointed out the flaw in Freddie’s range, which in fact does exist. All of that is primarily just being so tall, and touch “lumbering” for lack of a better word. Nonetheless, those flaws and his physical build have never kept FF from still being one of the best at 1B.

      • fireboss

        . . . and touch “lumbering” isn’t that what they said about will Clark? :) Who btw is a pretty good comp for F5F. So is Jack come to that and both had pretty good careers as I recall.
        I’m an unashamed F5F supporter but I know F5F isn’t a GG 1B (in spite of tweets I make when he pulls off one of those plays) but he’s in the top 5, (with, Goldy, Votto, Gonzo, Belt) and he makes our infielders jobs a lot easier (I’m talking to you Dan and CJ) but picking throws other wouldn’t get. I’d extend him now if he’d listen and I’d give him 7 years. F5F can be the ongoing face of the Braves if he wants to and I’ll drink to that.

        • Chris Headrick

          Wow, you would think I’d sliced open Freddie’s jugular! :) Freddie is great Fred, and I agree he’s probably the best player on the Atlanta roster. Not taking anything away from him.. just feel there are better 1st baseman out there, and I react accordingly to comments that say F5F is the best. I fully agree he’s in the top 5, and I’d even put him top 3.

          • fireboss

            You missed the smiley face. I agree with you on Freddie I was just pointing out that lumbering isn’t a bad thing as a 1b. It’s like a saying a B1 is not as maneuverable as an F16, it’s true but the payload it delivers is different too. I didn’t order those 1Bs I was just naming them. FG has F5F at 3rd in fWAR and 5th in combined defense. That’s a pretty good player

          • Chris Headrick

            LOL. Text is so limited for inflection. I saw your smiley, and I knew you weren’t diggin’ on me Fred. Just a lil playful banter.

    • Brandon_Woodworth

      Was unaware of that statistic. Looks like I’ll be checking that one out more often.