#5 Freddie Freeman 1B
Freddie Freeman has quietly been one of the best first basemen over the first two full years of his career. Sure, he was the Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2011, but who ever remembers second place? Now that the Braves have so many big name players on their roster it would be easy for Freeman to slip under the radar even further as just another roster spot; that is, if you haven’t been paying attention to him. This year Freeman should explode on to the baseball scene as one of the best players on his team, if not the whole league.
Freeman’s offensive numbers during his career have been good, and are only going to get better. In two full seasons he hit over 300 hits, including 65 doubles and 45 home runs. This helped contribute to his 170 RBIs over that period. If there can be only one complaint about Freddie Freeman it is that he strikes out a bit too much. He struck out 142 times in 2011 and 129 times last season, in which he played in 10 fewer games. His high strikeout rate has come dangerously close to equalling his hit total in both of those seasons. Freeman’s career batting average is still a respectable .271, but hopefully he can raise that by striking out less.
At least until Brian McCann returns from his injury Freeman is batting in the cleanup spot. This puts him behind Andrelton Simmons, Jason Heyward, and Justin Upton, one of the hottest hitters in the game right now. Having that much talent in front of him will give Freeman many chances to produce runs over the course of this season. That is, if Justin Upton doesn’t keep hitting home runs before he can even take a swing.
The icing on the cake for Freeman is his fielding ability. He has only been credited for a total of 18 errors for a career fielding percentage of .994. Having a defensive presence like that will only benefit the Braves even more.
Can Freddie make a big enough splash to emerge as an elite player this year? Will he be overshadowed by his new teammates?
*Between the time of writing and posting, Freeman has been placed on the 15 day DL and is apparently unhappy about it.*
Now that the season has started, “Replacing a Legend” is over. It’s time for the Braves to try to get back to the playoffs. But who will lead the way this year? Will this season establish a new face of the franchise? Only time will tell.
Part 1: Jason Heyward
Part 2: Brian McCann
Part 3: B.J. Upton
Part 4: Dan Uggla
Part 5: Andrelton Simmons
Part 6: Justin Upton