Freddie Freeman (by Rob Cope)

It’s easy to take Freddie Freeman for granted.

For instance, when you finish second in the Rookie of the Year voting, you might expect that would generate some excitement — unfortunately, when the person you finished second to is your teammate, then the excitement becomes a little tempered.

Or, when you reel off a 20-game hitting streak in your rookie year, you’d think people would take note — if they weren’t already taking note of a 33-game hitting streak by the team’s highest-paid position player.

Such is life for Freddie Freeman, the Braves’ perpetually overshadowed first sacker. Between coming up in September of Jason Heyward’s rookie year, to finishing second in the RoY to Craig Kimbrel in 2011, to concluding his 20-game hit streak well shy of Dan Uggla’s 33, he’s picked some bad times to have significant accomplishments. After all, how often do you have a slash of .282/.346/.448, 116 OPS+, and not be the best rookie on your own team?

Regardless, Atlanta has a very bright future at the first base position, even if that future looks like Buzz McCallister. At 23, Freeman already has two seasons of above average offense at first base. Depending on the defensive metrics you use, he’s also an above average defender around the bag. (UZR hates him, but Defensive Runs Saved thinks he’s average or perhaps slightly above average. Plus, the 6’5″ lefty passes the eyeball test, especially on throws in the dirt.)

Looking forward, a few things are plain to see. He is young, cheap, and pretty good right now, and the 23-year old will almost certainly improve. He could be Jack Clark or Eddie Murray, or he could be Greg Luzinski or Jason Thompson. (All four of those guys are on his “similar batters through 22” list on baseball-reference — Murray is the number one comparison on his list. Not bad.)

But still, regardless of how his career ultimately turns out, he’s a guy that helps the Braves win games right now. That’s pretty good for a 23 year old first baseman.

114 thoughts on “Freddie Freeman (by Rob Cope)”

  1. Thanks, Rob.

    Freeman gives me exactly what I want defensively from a 1B. I’ll take scoop over range any day at that spot.

    Jack Clark is a great comparison.

    Love how Freddie sets up to go to left-center. Wish Heyward would, too.

  2. Okay, Vegas guys, I have a question:

    Can I find a prop bet that allows me to bet on (over/under) length of games refereed by TV Ted Valentine? What a diva.

  3. Well done, Rob.

    Wasn’t Freddie also on the short end of comparisons to Hosmer as Freeman was dominating AAA?

  4. Rob, you’re just perpetuating the stereotype you bemoaan. Freddie gets the shortest blog entry as well. Such is the fate of routine above-average play. Nice job.

  5. Freddie doesn’t get a lot of PR or hype for the same reason Adam LaRoche or Ike Davis* don’t get a lot of PR or hype. Good players; useful, especially when cheap. But not the guys that get the features written about them.

    Also, he’s butt ugly. Noone writes up the ugly mug.

    *duly noted that Freeman is starting his ML career 2.5 years earlier than either of those guys, and thus his replication of their stat lines is more impressive than their first couple of years…

  6. So it seems UT’s new slogan is “You’re about to get Butch-slapped.”

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  7. I understand that college basketball officiating is generally agreed to be horrible, but the officials in the UF/AU game last night were almost as in the tank for AU as the color guy (a former Arizona player and coach). Aside from giving Arizona nearly triple the amount of free throws as Florida, they let Arizona’s players literally push UF’s guys around. The most egrigious was on the final play when Rosario was dribbling above the 3pt line and an Arizona player jumped at him, knocking him to the ground. No foul was called. I mean, fuck. Common.

    (Disclaimer: 50% of this is fueled by rage at Florida for not being able to execute a fucking inbounds pass to save their life.)

  8. Roadrunner homered again tonight. He’s moved into 10th place for all-time HRs in the Dominican. Not bad for a 25 year old. Maybe we could move his whole village stateside, and bring it on the road too.

  9. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely a Freddie Freeman fan.

    But I don’t know if he’s really above average.

    Freddie’s OPS ranked 15th among his peers last year. His WAR was good for 14. I’d pretty much peg him for an exactly average first baseman, not that that is anything to be ashamed of. I think memories of Robert Fick and Scott Thorman make us forget how high the bar is set for MLB first basemen to hit.

  10. I agree with Mike @15. Freeman is about ML average (not replacement level, average) for a 1B. There’s reason to be excited because he’s only 22, but as of now he’s league average for his position.

  11. What I’m most impressed by with regards to Freeman is how much power he can generate from that crazy short swing and him choking up on the bat. If you just saw him holding the bat you might think he was some slap-hitting shortstop.

  12. I don’t particularly care what mechanics he uses to produce. I care what he produces. Vlad Guerrero had a crazy stupid approach at the plate. He’s borderline HOF material. Just hit, baby.

  13. Oh, I didn’t mean that he should change or anything, it’s just not even close to a prototypical power swing and I’m amazed that he can actually hit balls as far as he does.

    Vlad might have had a weird swing and an even crazier approach but he also swung himself out of his shoes.

  14. It is nice to have a few slots you can take for granted. There is some danger in doing so, though — I’d spent the last couple seasons before ’12 quite happily taking Tommy Hanson for granted.

    Freddie seems a good candidate to take for granted for a little while, in that he is young, improving, and inexpensive in the short term. But also because it’s not a given that he’ll be getting all that much better than he is now. His power inched up a bit, and while his raw numbers only duplicated ’11, he earned it in ’12 with a more reasonable BABIP. Still, for a youngster he seems relatively fully formed as a ballplayer — it is impressive that he can generate the power he does with that swing, but is he close to maxing out what that swing can do? There’s no sense in fretting about a player with “old player skills” when he’s 22 and cost-controlled for years, but I’m not going to go overboard on his ceiling. Taking him for granted seems like the rational approach.

  15. Never did understand why the Braves didn’t value LaRoche more than they did. Was that a Bobby thing?

  16. @23

    I think he was going to become more expensive and they felt he was too inconsistent.

    Plus, he was having a lot off issues paying attention.

  17. I think we never quite appreciated what LaRoche brought to the table until we were faced to endure The Scott Thorman Experience. Adam and Scott had similar prospect profiles but turned out to be very different players: Adam was a bona fide above average major leaguer, while Scott was so bad that the Braves traded the entire 2011 AL Champion Rangers team to acquire Mark Teixeira.

  18. I always loved Laroche and I was devastated when he left the first time. I imagine that Adam’s occasional lackadaisicalness rubbing Bobby the wrong way.

    I remember when we traded to bring him back a few years ago and I went to his first game back. The guy in front of me was griping the whole time about what a horrible player he was. “Look at that, he’s only hitting 260! What a crap player, can’t believe we wanted him back.” I believe Adam had three hits that day.

  19. Just throwing this out there, expecting raspberries from y’all.

    Take a flyer on Scott Rolen and let Martin play LF? Still have the Road Runner to play caddie for him.

    I just can’t get too excited about Operation Running Bear. As much as I want Gattis to be the guy he still hasn’t convinced me that he can be.

  20. I wouldn’t have a problem paying Rolen a pittance and letting him fight for a job, but he turns 38 in April and he’s hit .244/.301/.397 in 157 games over the last two years; he hasn’t really hit well since he was 35. Unfortunately, he’s made $6.5 million each of the last two years, so he probably will have to get at least $2-4 million on a one-year deal.

    I’m afraid his ship may have sailed.

  21. @28 – not the worst idea I’ve seen, especially against lefties.

    Just for grins, what would it take to get Giancarlo, anyway?

  22. I still have the HR ball LaRoche hit off of John Lackey in the Erstad-trucks-Estrada game. My catch of that thing was so awesome that I got high-fived by pretty much everyone in the right field stands.

  23. @31 I imagine it would take just about everything we’ve got that’s cost controlled. ie: Delgado/Teheran + Gilmartin+ Bethancourt + low level minor leaguer.

  24. #33 – Id offer that immediately. I really dont have high hopes for Bethancourt or Gilmartin. If we could give those two and just one of Delgado/Teheran, it would be a steal.

  25. Yeah, it’d take a lot more than that. In point of fact I don’t think we have enough to trade for him. They would want someone who basically ranked as the best prospect in baseball — i.e. Heyward circa 2010, or Oscar Taveras right now, plus extras.

    I mean, think about James Shields just went for! Then remember that Shields has two years of team control while Giancarlo Stanton has four years of team control… and is much better than James Shields.

  26. I wouldn’t mind a Rolen experiment, but he probably wouldn’t like the amount of money I’d be willing to put up to try it out.

    Is he older than Troy Glaus?

  27. @27 – “Lollygagger!”

    Which reminds me – didn’t Adam have a form of ADHD? And, if so, isn’t Adderol (the new scourge) the only effective treatment?

  28. Just found a video of the Roadrunner’s latest HR. Absolutely crushed, to dead center and possibly clear out of the stadium. And check out how he pimps it. You have to love baseball Latin style. The atmosphere at this game is tremendous.

    Just past the one minute mark:

  29. Depressed…

    David O’Brien

    December 17th, 2012
    1:04 pm
    I mentioned at Winter Meetings the possibility of Braves using Prado both at 3B and LF, sharing duties w/ Francisco at 3B and w/ Reed Johnson in LF. As the weeks pass, seems like that possibility grows.

    Braves are still exploring potential trades for a 3B or LF, but I don’t think they’ll overpay. Rather than give up too much, I think they’d rather see what they’ve got in spring, how Francisco looks at 3B, etc., and make a deal later if need be. Of course, that could change in a heartbeat if someone backs down on trade demand for a player such as Fowler, or the Blue Jays decide to trade Bonifacio, or someone else becomes available not previously thought to be available

  30. 45– Nope, that is definitely the new Francisco waistline. He’s dropped 20 pounds, but could stand to lose 20 more, at least.

  31. 43—Yes!! Hadn’t even occurred to me to look for it. Mrs. Stu still complains to this day, because she’d gone to get ME a hot dog and missed all the excitement. Saw it on the TV at the concession stand and built up a solid store of rage by the time she made it back to her seat. Hot dog was delicious.

    46—Bossman Junior would agree.

  32. @fm, How did you find that? I have made several catches over the years and even though some of them were replayed on the big screen in the stadium I have only managed to get part of one of them on video for my own personal collection. I have one in particular I really would like to get since my wife, watching the game at home, saw a replay of the catch with commentary from (I think) Joe Simpson and Don Sutton raving about what an awesome catch it was.

  33. It would have been nice if they’d actually traded for the good players on the Nats! But I definitely appreciated the Marlins and Mets sending quite a few wins to the other league. It may help the Nats as much as it helps us, but it still helps.

  34. D’Arnaud and Syndergaard are both legit. There is a good chance that in a few years we’ll be cursing the Jays.

  35. D’Arnaud at least was a guy a few years back, but at this point, I’m not sure what the consensus on his upside is.

  36. D’Arnaud is still a guy. He’s not supposed to be Posey or anything, but he’s supposed to be able to stick behind the plate and hit decently – better than their current guy, Arencibia, who has power but NO ability to get on base.

    Also, there’s this: other than Wright and Reyes, the Mets have a long and glorious history of failing to deliver on their hottest prospects, from Jennry Mejia to Lastings Milledge. I wouldn’t start getting nervous just yet. They traded away a Cry Young winner because they literally couldn’t rub $25 million of quarters together.

  37. I’m not saying the Toronto deal is necessarily bad for the Mets. Let’s face it: The Mets can lose with Dickey or lose without him. Might as well get some kind of haul, right?

    But the Mets essentially made the deal over $5 Million worth of difference on what they offered Dickey.

    The Mets were willing to do a reported 2-years/$20-mil extension; Dickey ended up getting 2-years/$25-mil from the Jays.

    They sign up David Wright, but they can’t find $5M? I’m guessing they wanted to trade Dickey all along.

  38. I can’t argue with this too much – it’s a pretty good return for found money in Dickey. I can note however, that the Mets management is pretty terrible at developing prospects lately, and manged to be complete jerks about the whole thing, up to and including character assassination in the media, and co-opting a usually excellent sportswriter in Ken Davidoff to do it. Hard as it may be to believe, I actually hate the Mets more after this.

  39. @55

    It’s the Braves Top Plays Archive, showcasing some of the highlights from previous years (but it’s only from 2005-2010, though). In this case, I remembered that the Erstad-Estrada collision game was in June 2005, so I selected that month in the drop-down menu and scrolled through until I saw LaRoche’s homer listed.

    And if you don’t mind a personal comment, I found it highly nostalgic. You can re-live the last vestiges of the good old days, when Smoltz was pitching dominantly, Andruw was still good, and games were narrated in Skip’s voice.

  40. #63
    Davidoff wasn’t the first media person to share some of the Mets’ internal chafing about Dickey, and there was some this past summer.

    He’d written about it well before the contract standoff and there were some talkies on the radio who’d alluded to the notion that, for example, Dickey should pipe down about his not starting the All-Star Game. Mostly, it seemed, that people (including some in Mets brass) were just getting a little tired of the never-ending promotion of his book.

    Not a big deal at the time, really. I mean, what else was the Mets’ 2012 story, especially after the ASG? But there were others who’d discussed how some Flushing folks weren’t digging Dickey, not just Davidoff.

    His recent column certainly touched on that & seemed like a real kick out the door. But I don’t see Davidoff really being in the Mets’ pocket–Lord knows he’s criticized them plenty.

    Point is, the Mets were quietly bitching about Dickey even when things seemed peachy. Drama, always drama…

  41. And there are many worse things that an organization can get upset about.

    I mean, Dickey gave them a chance to win almost every night he pitched, and he was essentially the only player actually bringing people out to Citi Field after Santana went down. Hell, the Mets even put together a Dickey ticket plan.

    I’d think that the promotion of his personal story helped make his success resonate a little more, for the good of a club that could use the bucks.

  42. 67–Because IWOTM I’d avoided reading anything about Dickey, but that column simply confirms for me that Mets management is way too thin-skinned to successfully manage anything, least of all a sports team.

  43. I won’t go any further with this, because I’m much more of a Dickey fan than a Met’s fan, obviously. But I think that Davidoff had to write a column about the column, and that the overwhelming majority of readers commenting at the Post and elsewhere saw it as a pretty one sided, and Davidoff has been tweeting about “could have been crisper” and “poor wording” all day speaks for itself.

  44. The further point in that this an admission by the Mets that they aren’t ready to compete. While I think everyone who thought about it already knew that, it certainly sends a message to your thugs…. er… fans that you want their money next year without putting as good a team on the field as you could. Reyes…Wright…Dickey. So you kept one of them. Big whoop.

  45. The Roadrunner got beaned in the first inning–apparently on purpose. And then in the third he failed to run out a strikeout/passed ball and some Licey fans are ripping him on twitter:

    “Juan Francisco tiene calidad de sobra con su bate…pero su actitud hacia el juego deja mucho que desear.”

    Translation: he’s a good hitter but has a crap attitude.

  46. @72 Hence my comment about him staring at his moonshot from the other night. The guy is going to have to do a lot to get me to like him.

  47. csg, who’s talking about his OBP? One can’t deny his power which is what he’s showing by the bucketloads in Winter Leagues. Furthermore, wouldn’t WL stats be considered useless if the stats were an anomoly? His power and strikeout rate affirm what we already knew he could do. Adding to that, Francisco has never been given a chance to play fairly regularly. Who really knows what he could do given the chance? Personally, it’d excite the hell out of me if the Braves committed to giving the Francisco/Gattis/Prado 3b/LF combo a test run. It’d give the Braves an opportunity to lock up some young talent or extend Prado.

    More stats that are useless: Mejia has already hit 2 HR tonight and Gattis has 1 as well putting their totals to 14 and 12.

  48. With fewer than 400 total ABs, it would be pretty silly to give up on the Roadrunner based on his major league stats. The Braves are more likely to give up on him due to perceived immaturity.

  49. If there weren’t irrational exuberance right now re: Francisco, Gattis, and even Mejia, there wouldn’t be anything to talk about.

  50. Ramiro Pena has just over 300 ABs, which is the equivalent of fewer than a 100 games, I would say. And in his previous four seasons in the Mexican league he has averaged fewer than 2 HRs per season (7 total). So yeah, overall I would say that someone looking at his winter league stats would notice that he’s having an unusually good season and either getting lucky or he is starting to develop some pop at that level.

    In other words, Ramiro Pena is a red herring. No has suggested winter league stats are 1:1 indicators of likely MLB performance. Of course they are not. But for a guy like Gattis, who has never played above AA (and has less than half a season even there) it is absolutely meaningful that he is raking against the best competition he’s yet faced. That makes him a lot more likely to be able to make that final jump.

    For Francisco it is, I admit, slightly less meaningful, but the fact that he has so consistently performed so well at this level suggests that he only needs to make a reasonable number of adjustments to be a pretty useful major league player.

  51. I’m sorry. Juan Francisco is a ridiculously flawed ballplayer. The only thing he does remotely like a major leaguer is hit the occasional long home run. Low average. Never walks. Slow. Plays one position, and not very well. Why anybody goes on about him as though he’s at all worthwhile is completely mystifying to me.

  52. Do we really want to debate whether or not Juan can hit Mlb pitching? No one was talking about OBP so I felt the need to bring it up. The Braves cant afford to sit on $10-$15 mil in available payroll and just try in house options at 3rd. Im excited about Gattis and what he can do, but hes far from a guarantee. I also want Prados glove at 3rd. When Juan stops whiffing at less than 30% wake me up.

  53. The best thing about Winter League is that unlike the minor leagues, it is real baseball. Meaning people care about who wins.

    In a 7-6 game Mejia just drew a walk (!) to put men on first and second with 2 outs, bringing Gattis to the plate. And then Parra, the runner on second, got thrown out trying to steal third. Twitter is on fire. He made the third out at third base! With Gattis at the plate!!


  54. Juan has a career .806 OPS against RHP. One would think, if used in a strict platoon, Juan could be a valuable piece in a 3-way platoon.

  55. I don’t see anything wrong with Dickey. He perhaps should not have talked about his contract at a Sandy Relief thing, but he was asked the question and he answered it. He seems like a genuine guy that’s good for baseball. Plus, the Mets couldn’t manage a 7-11.

  56. And the Braves only have about 8m according to DOB. Considering the prices of contracts for mediocrity this offseason, I’d rather see a gamble on our in house talent then see some reclamation project sign for 1/6-8m.

  57. But he’s so easily gameplanned — he hits like a pitcher against LHP. This makes him useless as a pinch-hitter, because modern roster construction includes twice as many relief pitchers as pinch-hitters, so an opposing manager can almost always force us to burn an extra bench player or go with a hopeless matchup. Even in games he starts you end up having to replace him if the game is in doubt from the sixth inning onward. All of this so he can be kinda okay against right handed starters? Why bother?

  58. We got Francisco because we needed somebody we could jerk around depending on Chipper’s availability. Neither a respected veteran player nor a prospect with a real future would consent to such an arrangement, so we got a guy who’s sort of a dead-ender, but who has one useful talent. Absent Chipper, we end up jerking Prado around to accommodate Francisco? It doesn’t make any sense now.

  59. @88
    Seems fine with Prado, not sure why it’d bother you. I’m not saying the system that I’d like to see doesn’t have it’s complications, but there’d be plenty of RH PH options with Reed Johnson and Ernesto Mejia on the bench I envision.

    I’ll ask this. Who, in the price range mentioned above, would you rather see used to hold down the LF or 3b position? Sure there are players that I’d like better in LF if it meant that the Braves didn’t have to trade anyone of significance or overpay on the Free Agent market, but there doesn’t seem to be that option anywhere out there. This organization is, sooner or later, going to have to take risks on their cheap talent that aren’t “can’t miss” prospects. If it doesn’t work out, it happens, but if it does, we could have cheap power options for many years to come.

  60. Leaving aside whether it’s fine with Prado (and it would be my equally out-of-the-blue contention that he’d rather be an everyday 3B, because just about anyone who can handle it would rather do that than kick around in LF), I would rather see just about anybody besides Francisco. He’s not good. That’s the only point I’m currently prepared to make, and I’m just trying to make it.

  61. Here’s the list of FA OF/3B that would fall into the Braves wants and price range: Cody Ross

    That’s it. Significantly better than Francisco/Gattis platoon. I’d say no.

    Trado options are hard to speculate but it seems like the market is overvaluing one year rentals.

  62. @65 – Thank you so much for posting that. I had no idea this existed.

    August of 05 has some vintage Andruw Jones. Warms this old heart.

  63. @90
    I’m not saying that it was OK with Prado personally, but I am saying that, from a pure stats perspective, he has performed admirably moving around the diamond the past few years no matter the position. Also, whether he enjoys it or not, he seems to take pride in having the ability to play everywhere (Prado on moving all over the diamond: “I’m like the Matrix. I’ll just download the manual”).

    I understand you don’t think Francisco is good andI’m not saying that he’d be a good everyday player, but to merely be a player asked to play slightly below average defense at 3b and to hit the ball hard against RHP, to which he’s proved he can do both.

  64. I would haul Cody Ross to Atlanta in a rickshaw if it meant not going into the season with a Francisco/Gattis platoon as Plan A.

  65. #91 – What about Willingham? He’s in the price range and we have the pieces to get him. Braves talking heads were easily throwing out pieces about how the Uptons wanted to play together and how Choo, Hart, Willingham, or Gordon are all good fits. We go from potentially a player like Choo with a career .380OBP to possibly just giving the job to Fransisco? Sorry, I cant buy that its our best and only option at this point.

    Im fine with seeing what Gattis can do, but this team can ill afford to try and piece this thing together until a trade comes along midseason.

  66. DKnoblerVerified ‏@DKnobler
    Braves very excited about Evan Gattis, suggesting to teams that they could even go with him in LF next year. We’ll see.

    Whats his defense like in LF?

  67. Willingham has never been available according to Twins sources. Gordon is a lock in LF now that Myers is gone. Hart would obviously be interesting but haven’t heard he’s available.

    Ok, let me ask this: Bonifacio in LF or Gattis/Francisco? Because that’s the way this conversation needs to head as he and Fowler seem to be the 2 they’re “after”.

  68. @96 I hope Gattis gets a chance to play LF next year, but I got the impression that the Braves signed Reed Johnson with the idea that he would start in LF versus lefties. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gattis starts 2013 in AAA, proving to the Braves brass that he can hit advanced pitching and field decently. I’m definitely rooting for him.

  69. @95 With the losses of Reyes, Buerhle, Johnson, and Dickey and no real significant upgrades in our division, I think our current team, W/L wise, is equal to last year.

  70. Depends entirely on which Haren they got. But, yeah, I suspect he’s going to be pretty damn good.

  71. @100
    They also lost Burnett, Lannan, and Jackson. Do you really see Haren as being significantly better than Jackson/Lannan? I don’t.

  72. Also Rizzo isn’t finished yet. Once Laroche caves and takes a two-year deal he can still trade Morse for a solid bullpen piece.

  73. If he trades for a solid bullpen piece, he’ll be challenged to find one as solid as Burnett. I still think our division hasn’t had any upgrades. Don’t forget, the Braves killer, Carlos Ruiz, is out for 50 games and will likely be back playing at standard-def.

  74. Yes. Haren is better than Lannan/Jackson. I know he kills us, but Lannan lost his rotation spot with the Nats and is a back-of-the-rotation starter anywhere else. And Jackson has been league-average over his long career. Meanwhile Haren was one of the best pitchers in the league for several years. He’s no longer at his peak, but he is a better pitcher than those two.

  75. Haren is 3 years older than Jackson and had serious declines in almost every category. Sure, you can say you think he’ll be an upgrade over Lannan/Jackson, and base it on Haren’s past success and Jackson’s mediocrity, but I’ll continue to disagree because it looked like Haren’s past success was in the rear view while Jackson, slowly and steadily, slid past him.

  76. Haren had a very bad year, no question, but Jackson wasn’t great either — Haren’s ERA+ was 87, but Jackson had an ERA+ of 98.

    The thing is, Jackson has a career ERA+ of 98: that’s about how good he is. Haren has a career ERA+ of 116, so even if you think that he’s no longer at his peak, odds are that he’ll be much better next year than he was this year.

    Why did Haren have such a bad year, his worst full season in the majors? I’m willing to chalk a lot of it up to bad luck, particularly in the homer department. His BABIP was .306, which is decently higher than his career mark of .294, but the real stat for concern is his 10.1% homer per flyball ratio, well higher than his 7.8% career HR/FB rate. That helped him set a career high with 1.4 homers per nine innings.

    Haren is famous for his incredible K/BB ratio; he has a career K/BB of 4.01, which is the fourth-highest mark of all time among starting pitchers with at least 1000 innings pitched. Haren hasn’t always pitched as well as his components might indicate, but the gap isn’t nearly as large as it is with other homer-prone power/control pitchers like Javy Vazquez and Ricky Nolasco, who were infuriating for underperforming their components.

    Haren’s career FIP is 3.64, just a tick below his 3.66 career ERA; his xFIP is marginally lower than that, 3.59.

    Haren’s a three-time All-Star who finished 7th in the AL Cy Young voting as recently as 2011; Jackson was an All-Star in 2009, his best year in the majors and one he has shown no signs of ever being able to repeat.

    The gap between the two of them may not appear great, because over the last three years Haren has a 104 ERA+ while Jackson has a 100 ERA+. But Haren is vastly better than Jackson on the components (4.4 K/BB over that span, while Jackson’s at 2.5), and Haren’s vastly pulled down by his off year last year.

    Haren clearly took a one-year deal this year because he wants to re-establish his value for a big payday in 2013. Considering the team he’s pitching for, and his long track record of excellence, I think he has an excellent chance of doing that.

  77. Personally, I am guessing Haren is dogged by continued injury issues in 2013 – after all, the Angels didn’t want him back, the Cubs nixed a Marmol/Haren trade due to medical issues, and the Royals chose to trade for Ervin Santana instead of Haren. Basically, looks to me that the Nationals are taking the same chance that the White Sox have every year they tendered a contract to Jake Peavy.

  78. As someone who watched Haren’s 2012 torpedo his fantasy team ERA, I can tell you that Haren wasn’t really right last year and a lot of it was blamed on some back injury issues.

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: He struggled mightily for the first three months of the season until it was finally revealed by the team that his back had been bothering him since spring training. The team kept it quiet, he tried to play through the injury to “help the team”.

    The result was that he hurt the team with a 4.80 ERA in the first half and ended up on the DL anyway. I will never understand why players/teams do this.

  79. Oh and for what it’s worth, he returned from the DL to the tune of a 3.50 ERA and 4.0 K/BB the rest of the season. My money is on him having a good year in 2013.

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