Atlanta Braves: Top 5 Most Clutch Hitters Since 1990

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Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves (Photo by Pouya Dianat/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)

In today’s edition of Diggin’ Through Atlanta Braves’ history, we take a look at the top five high-leverage seasons since 1990.

What do we mean by the top five high-leverage seasons in Atlanta Braves‘ history?

Fangraphs actually uses an index that measures the leverage of each situation. They take into account the score, how many runners are on base, what inning, and how many outs. Essentially, they are able to pinpoint what is and what is not a clutch situation.

We are going to take a look a the top-five most-clutch regular seasons in Braves’ history based on the leverage index.

Notes: This list was compiled based on wRC+ and a minimum of 30 high-leverage at-bats in a single season.

Freddie Freeman (2013)

2012 marked the end of the Chipper Jones era and the beginning of Freddie Freeman’s. Freddie had a very solid 2012, blasting 23 homers and posting a .796 OPS but in 2013 he took another step forward. He picked up some of the weight that Chipper had been carrying and became a 23-year-old leader on one of the youngest teams in baseball. He improved his OPS nearly 100 points and made his first All-Star team.

Chipper left behind some rather large shoes to fill and Freeman proved he had just the giant clown feet to do so.

On top of the overall solid numbers, Freddie stepped up when the Braves needed him most. In high-leverage situations in 2013, Freeman hit an incredible .404 and walked in 18.3% of his high-leverage plate appearances. This was good for an OBP of .507 in such scenarios. So, when the pressure was on Freddie was getting on base in over half of his plate appearances that season.

Talk about leading by example. Ice water in his veins.

When it was all said in done, Freeman faced high-leverage situations in 71 plate appearances that season and earned 20 free passes with seven of them being of the intentional variety…

Remember those?

This was back in the day where the catcher had to stand up and step out and call for a soft toss while he whispered to Freddie “I’m sorry, we are just too frightened of you.” Then Freddie would tell the catcher, “It’s okay, I understand” and they would embrace in a hug before parting ways.

Freeman drove in 29 runs in just 57 at-bats. The Braves went on to win 96 games and the NL East… without Chipper Jones. Freddie Freeman had established himself as the new face of the franchise and secured the fifth-best clutch hitting season the Braves had seen since 1990 (according to Fangraphs). Freeman was exactly double the league average in high-leverage situations that season with a ludicrous-speed wRC+ of 200.

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