Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman earned the nickname The Offense last year, and this offseason has done nothing to make one suspect anyone will challenge him for that title for a long, long time. While the Braves have apparently shifted their attention from trying to acquire every pitcher they can get their hands on to stockpiling catchers, organizational depth at offense is, well, lacking.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though, because we do have Freddie, and we still have this picture that made us all become Freddie fans for life:

votefreeman

After signing the largest contract in Braves history last offseason, Freddie could not quite put up the numbers he had in his MVP-caliber 2013 season. His line of .288/.386/.461 was down from .319/.396/.501, and he hit only 18 home runs, the lowest number of his career. He also grounded into 18 double plays, nearly twice his total from 2013. He did play in all 162 games (including every contest during the last two months of what the Braves called “baseball” but I just called “painful”), so tiredness may have impacted his performance; however, you would think that if anyone could play in every game in a season, a 23 year old could. Of course, he wasn’t a bad offensive player. He did reach base safely multiple times in 89 games last season, more times than anyone else in baseball. He just wasn’t his 2013 offensive self.

I have gone through dozens of Andrelton Simmons highlights this winter, and one thing I have repeatedly noticed was how impressive Freddie was on the receiving end of many throws. I know defensive metrics do not rank him highly due to limited range, but I like what I see. I’m perfectly fine with having his defense around for the next seven years.

So, what should we expect from Freddie’s 2015? Well, considering his 8 year/$135 million deal runs through 2021, I think one certainty for him about this season is that he is not going to be traded. That’s not a certainty many other Braves have. Other things to watch for: a third straight All-Star appearance, if he has a decent first half (the Braves have a few pitchers who may be worthy of the honor, but Freddie will surely be in the discussion on reputation alone and has a legitimate shot as long as he doesn’t catch the Uggla/BJ bug, a sickness that no Brave will hopefully ever suffer from again); an offensive line somewhere between his 2013-2014 totals (say, .295/.390/.480—numbers I could live with); a bunch of Freddie Hugs, and more optimistic quotes that may be partially based in reality, or may just be PR at its finest.

Not that he’ll ever say anything publicly, but I would be curious to know if he now has any regrets about signing his contract. I mean, he signed it when it looked like the team had the core to contend and was the youngest team in MLB, an altogether bright future. When he signed the contract, I recall he also made several comments about how much he liked his teammates and wanted to play in Atlanta, but that was before his best friend (Dan Uggla) was cut, his other best friend (Jason Heyward) was traded, and the roster was nearly given a complete overhaul. Now, the next couple of years aren’t looking the brightest, and his teammates (and now ex-teammate) are joking about having to wear “Hello, My Name Is…” t-shirts at Spring Training. This is probably not quite what he was envisioning a year ago when he signed his contract.

That being said, he is still a Brave, and should be a Brave for a very long time if he has anything to say about it, according to the “contract” he signed for a fan at a Braves Caravan stop. The fact that he signed this and actually wrote “not my fault if anything happens” may have just earned him the distinction of being my favorite player (a position that has been sadly open since the Braves abruptly dropped Kris Medlen and the awesomeness that goes with him from the team).

B8tSdRLIgAAxHIA.jpg-large

So, regardless of what mediocrity we may have to endure from this 2015 season, we do still have Freddie so all is not lost. He may never be the second coming of Chipper Jones, but he’s a pretty great piece to have around. And we should get to watch him play in Atlanta for a long time.

122 thoughts on “Freddie Freeman”

  1. Nice post, ‘Rissa. Freddie has been one of my favorites since I saw him at spring training in 2010.

    Also, pitchers and catchers, everyone. Happy baseball!

  2. I have a friend, believe it or not; and that friend is 30 days older than I, believe it or not one more time. Like me, he has rooted for the Braves since they moved to Atlanta. Over the years, he has accumulated lots of Braves gear, none of which bore an individual player’s name or number. Lo and behold, he broke the mold this year and purchased a Freddie Freeman jersey.

    The two of us, along with our long-suffering child brides of more than 40 years, will be at Champions Field on March 11 and 13, alternately sitting behind the visitors and home dugouts. If anyone else is there and wishes to bring joy to the elderly, please look for two septuagenarians and two hot chicks. The bald dude will probably be posing as Freeman, and the handsome one will be posing as me.

    Y’all come by, you hear. We might even spring for an adult beverage.

    P.S. Great post. Thanks, ‘Rissa.

  3. Mike Minor Wins Arbitration Case Versus Braves

    By Steve Adams [February 20, 2015 at 11:26am CST]

    Mike Minor has won his arbitration hearing versus the Braves, reports MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes (on Twitter). Minor will earn $5.6MM as opposed to the $5.1MM figure submitted by the team, as shown in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker. Minor, a Jet Sports Management client, had been projected to earn $5.1MM by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.

  4. @3,they backed into Chipper and Andruw is on there twice, so I’m not sure ‘4 out of a decade’ is telling us much here.

  5. Dammit. That 500k could have been used to finalize our offer to Yoan Moncada.

    @4 Now that my fanny has frozen off, I’d love to come to Florida and join you and your buddy for a beer. Alas, I still have 2 kids in college so I guess I had better stick around here and generate some income. Thanks for the offer.

  6. They didn’t “back into Chipper.” The organization was split down the middle on Chipper vs Todd Van Poppel and Bobby Cox went with his gut and chose Chipper. The threat of Van Poppel going to college rather than playing for the Braves is oversold.

  7. @9 reads like an Oklahoma fix for the AP History exam. Bull shit. I was here and a season ticket holder. TVP explicitly told them not to draft him. He was the overwhelming consensus top player, way ahead of the field and the Braves were going to take him.

  8. Regardless, people shouldn’t dismiss the fact that that Braves drafted Chipper Jones and he developed into the top prospect in baseball. That’s an awfully strong accomplishment to diminish because someone thinks they “backed into him”.

  9. And thank you to ‘Rissa who has been providing exceptional writing all offseason. You have made a difficult-to-digest offseason much better with your writing.

  10. Awesome accomplishment. Shame we haven’t had one of those ‘top prospects’ since Andruw, but it’s still strong evidence that the Braves draft awesomely to this day.

  11. Andy Marte was also a consensus number 1 prospect, but I don’t blame anyone who wants to forget that.

  12. Yeah, he was the org’s top prospect, but definitely not the top prospect in baseball — but he’s still one of the biggest prospect busts of the last two decades, along with guys like Lastings Milledge.

    (One great thing about talking about prospects is getting to talk about how terrible the Mets are. Then again, that’s one of the best things about all aspects of baseball.)

  13. A lot of us braves fans were not high on Marte at all. To me, he was a reincarnation of Jose Oliva. Iron-gloved 3B with big K-prone swing.

  14. I remember taking some heat here for supporting the Renteria/Marte deal. I do recall Mac being very high on Marte also. I didn’t think he’d ever be able to hit at the MLB level. Same with Salcedo.

  15. @ 19, 20, 21. I’m pretty sure Marte WAS the #1 prospect overall for Baseball Prospectus back in ’04 or ’05. I’ll have to dig out my old BP stash.

  16. Yeah, Mac was basically apoplectic about the trade:

    But Andy Marte… Good God. This is a special prospect. His floor is Matt Williams. His ceiling is the Hall of Fame. I mean, he probably won’t make the Hall, but it’s a possibility. The Braves just got fleeced. If Marte’s stock wasn’t as high as we thought, they should have just hung onto him and traded two guys to get Renteria or Lugo.

    This is a bad deal

  17. (Just for context, here’s an old Hardball Times post from August 2004 in which two writers go back and forth debating which third base prospect will have a better career: Andy Marte, Hank Blalock, Sean Burroughs, Dallas McPherson, or David Wright. They both agree that the answer is Hank Blalock.)

  18. Marte was a bust, but him (along with Teahran, Andrew, Simmons…) shows that we evaluate foreign talent much better than state side draft guys

  19. I was a snarky little fella back then. But that thread is hilarious; everyone was blowing their gasket over Andy Marte. Remember Mac’s illustration of Schuerholz when he traded Kevin Millwood for Johnny Estrada? Oh, the humanity!

    I wonder how we will feel ten years from now when we read the thread after Heyward was traded.

    Did anyone ever confirm that was B.B. Abbott posting on there? Did he ever come back?

  20. @13 Glad you’ve enjoyed it! I find writing somewhat therapeutic, so I’ve appreciated the opportunity to have an outlet in what has been, indeed, a difficult-to-digest offseason. Thank goodness for the Internet, where Braves fans can all be miserable together in times likes these.

  21. I went down memory lane again and read the offseason player posts I made. Seriously Pulitzer Prize, Remington-edited stuff.

    I did find this fun post from Stu, after we signed BJ and before we traded for JUpton:

    “They’re both young, good players who were each the top prospect in the game at one point. And OF has been such a consistent weakness that I’d love to not really have to worry about it for several years. And, of course, I love the idea of having both brothers on one (my) team. Just seems like it’d be really cool.”

    If only…

  22. It was pretty cool for a couple of weeks there, before the real games started and reality punched me in the face over and over and over again.

  23. There was that Cubs game, with the 9th inning game-tying and walkoff home runs. After that, BJ’s persistent sub-.200 average quickly suffocated any enthusiasm for having both brothers.

  24. The Andy Marte trade thread is hilarious.
    “Hanley Ramirez?!! He hasnt put up numbers as good as Marte’s even for one season..”
    “The guy (Marte) is Delmon Young level good”
    “Marte is an exceptional player. I’m going to vomit every time I see him make one of his ten all-star teams”

  25. @36 Whew I missed the Marte thread too. But by then hadn’t he failed a couple of callups?

    @32 Komminsk The next Dale Murphy. He had a strange slow upper cut swing. I remember watching the Braves on the national boradcast. The ever astute Joe Morgan said ‘That kid has a huge hole in his swing.’

  26. @33

    But is that really a point of comparison? (Actually asking–not rhetorical.) Because with the international guys we don’t necessarily have to compete with all the other scouts and line up single file so we can take turns in a fixed order while we draft them. It just seems like seeing the talent with the stateside guys isn’t the problem, it’s the fact that there’s such a high level of structured competition for them.

  27. Checking out that Baseball America list, 5 of the #1 prospects between 1990 and 2000 played for the Braves at some point:

    Avery, Chipper, Andruw, JD Drew and…Rick Ankiel!

  28. @45 He’d had one disappointing cup of coffee (66 PA) at the time of the trade.

    Obviously Marte ended up flopping so it’s all moot, but I remember thinking that even if the Braves had insider knowledge that he wasn’t going to succeed, they still should have gotten more for him. He was a consensus top prospect, and all they got was an infielder pushing thirty who was coming off a bad year and had a pretty substantial contract. It was roughly equivalent to trading Jose Peraza for, like Jose Reyes straight up. Even if you think Reyes will outplay Peraza, you’re still not trading at their perceived value.

  29. Renteria was owed $32m across three seasons($8m, $12m $12m), and the Red Sox sent $8M along with him. He was coming off an injury plagued and hit-unlucky season. He came to Atlanta and was basically Derek Jeter for 2 years (.825 OPS), and we paid him $6m for each year (we traded him before we had to pay the last $12m.) And thats not even mentioning that they turned that one last year of control into Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez.

    This was a little before the current climate of over-valuing prospects, but still, these guys aren’t winging it. It’s not fantasy baseball. Their careers are on the line when they make a deal like that and they nailed that one. Absolutely nailed it. There’s no way, in hindsight, to criticize that trade.

  30. And what about Wilson Betemit? Wasn’t he supposed to be the next great player to come out of the Atlanta farm system?

  31. Betemit was a major leaguer for a decade — he busted in the sense of not turning into a star, but in the final reckoning his career was just fine for a guy the Braves signed as a 14-year old. (You could compare him to Freddy Adu, than whom he likely had a better career.) It may not have been worth the penalty they had to pay for signing him two years before they were supposed to, but that’s their own damn fault.

  32. A cursory review of USENET indicates that I acquitted myself reasonably well during Marte-gate.

  33. The Dodgers gave Beachy $2.75M for 2015, when he may only make about 10 starts. His 2016 option ranges from $3-6M. I’m assuming he’ll probably make about $4M (just speculation) based on how much he’ll pitch in 2015. I’m not sure I would have supported that deal. The guy has had two TJs. He’s 50/50 at best at this point as to whether or not he’ll make even 30 more big league starts. He’s probably one of my top 10 Braves over the last 5 years (and my wife is absolutely in love with him), but it’s probably best he set sail.

    Same thing with Medlen. Absolutely loved those two guys, but it seems other teams valued their services higher.

  34. How did Betemit never get a chance to play full-time? He’s got an above-average OPS at 3B, and no one ever let him get 450 ABs in a season. That’s really odd. Was he a statue at third? He’s all over the place with games played by position.

  35. @58

    Bill James went on a tangent about that a few months ago–couldn’t believe the guy couldn’t get a true starting gig; said it seemed like all the guy ever did was hit.

    Re: Beachy

    So, Andy Friedman thinks those two arms are pretty good after all? We’ll see if he ends up being as smart as everyone says he is.

  36. Hi guys… been away for a while… Just dropped by to mention that you can’t talk about Komminsk without mentioning his less-talented younger twin: Scott Thorman.

  37. Betemit always seemed to have someone better in front of him. On the Braves he was Chipper’s caddy.

  38. The year they decided to break camp with Thorman I liked to say they made that decision only after Thorman ate Adam LaRoche alive.

  39. BJ Upton no more!!

    @JeffSchultzAJC: #Braves exec John Hart made passing reference to “Melvin” (B.J.) Upton, then confirmed player will go by Melvin Upton Jr, this season.

  40. This BJ thing is hilarious. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose.

    This calls for a Braves Journal nickname for him. Not-BJ Upton? The Player Formerly Known as BJ? Or should we just refer to him as Melvin (with no last name)?

  41. “Melvin” is about as good a nickname as you could hope to find. At this point, whatever lifts the burden of expectation from his shoulders.

  42. So, BJ decides to recognize his dad and take his name rather than his childhood nickname and it’s cause for mockery. Jeez, guys. Dude is a terrible contract and a useless baseball player these days, but this seems unnecessary.

  43. Eh, on a board that regularly referred to players as Success, AAG, Pickles, ACHE, Kali, The Lisp, The Vulture, and many others, any player can be a target for a good nickname. When a player actually calls attention to his name, the track record of Braves Journal only makes it natural for us to try to come up with something better. Plus, we’re in desperate need to find a good nickname for someone this year. Hopefully Spring Training happenings produce something.

    To say Melvin is recognizing his dad by taking his name is stretching it just a bit, considering his dad actually goes by “Bossman” rather than “Melvin”. I’m sure when he reports to camp the question over why he wants to be called something else will be the first thing the reporters ask him. Until we learn more, it just seems like a great opportunity to get the discussion rolling over nicknames, in case we come up with something that sticks.

    Speaking of nicknames, if David Carpenter makes the team, we’re going to call him ADC, right?

  44. Since that David Carpenter played for the Braves first, I think of him as the initial one, so the new guy would be “another” one.

    Edit: Just found where the AJC actually called him “another David Carpenter”. They seem to think he will get some time in Atlanta this season, so this could get fun. I wonder how many times Chip will feel the need to explain he’s a different guy…

  45. @79: And when he’s not being called “Bossman,” he’s known as Manny Upton. He doesn’t go by Melvin except on legal documents. So the player formerly known as “B.J.” being called Melvin Upton, Jr. is definitely a little odd. Maybe he’s trying to bury his old self.

  46. As this site’s author of the Melvin “Bossman Jr.” Upton offseason thread, I have thoughts…

    I have spent a good bit of time thinking about what I would do if I were Melvin “B.J.” Upton. And I came to the conclusion that I’d spend three years busting my ass trying to make it work. If the Braves had a better option they could trade me, cut me, whatever. But I-as-Upton am a proud professional and I’m going to pull out every stop trying to make it work. If they keep running me out there despite my performance that’s on them, but it’s on me to do what I can to improve that performance.

    If a name dissociation helps, it helps. Hell, I’d change my uniform number too. And my walkup music.

    The man’s in a funk that we have to presume is more psychological than physical, and it’s probably not helping that 11 Alive Sports reacts to this news by Leno-ing “no word on whether it’ll help him hit .250.” Did people take the piss out of Chuck Knoblauch and Steve Sax for fielding, or Rick Ankiel and Steve Blass for pitching, or Mackey Sasser for throwing the ball back to the catcher, like that? We’ve got a talented player lost in his own head and everyone would rather shit on him for not having earned his check than try to help him be the player we signed two years ago. Disappointing.

  47. #84
    I can tell you from first-hand experience that people did, in fact, take it out on Sasser & Knoblauch.

    When Sasser would pump the ball over & over before he tossed it back to the pitcher, fans at Shea would start counting loudly with every pump. “One! Two! Three! Wheeeee!”

    With Knoblauch, it was more like a dense rain of “you suck!” after he’d thrown another ball into the stands. (The Yanks ended up moving him to LF.) But that’s life in the big city: The highs are unbelievable, but the lows? Ask Ed Whitson.

    As for BJ Upton, the very thought gives me a headache.

  48. @81

    Have you never seen either of the Parent Trap movies? What I’m saying is we didn’t send the original David Carpenter to New York and they don’t know it yet. So smart!

  49. At this point I think I’m going to go buy a Melvin jersey and root for the guy, just to piss you lot off.

  50. I’m actually with Sam on this one. And I never read about the dad stuff until now, somehow. Sign me up for #teammelvin

  51. I know everyone’s wondering, but if you’re concerned about Freeman’s future, this should seal it: Freeman has won the MVP 4 years in a row in Baseball Mogul. So, take that to the bank. He triple-slashed .343/.430/.628 with 44 HRs in 2018! What a legend.

  52. Ahh, Andy mAAArte. The vicious response to that trade from some corners got oddly personal. “You say you thought Marte, the God of Prospects, had a hole in his swing you could see from the stands? Well you are Bad Baseball Fan! Why do you taint The Game with your Bad Opinion, sir?”

    Whoopsie.

  53. @84:

    “Did people take the piss out of Chuck Knoblauch…for fielding”

    Yankees, so: Yes. “Knoblockhead” and such.

  54. Can someone explain when DOB of the AJC became such a “shill” for the Braves? Never thought so before this year, but seems like he has gone out of his way to pump this team this year. Am I wrong?

  55. Gotta build access to the new regime, and so much is riding on fans buying the front office’s “it’s not a rebuild” story.

  56. @98-

    You know how when comedic sitcoms run for a long time, the characters become more cartoonish with their most notable traits exaggerated to replace any other characterization? So a character who starts as being somewhat dim becomes loud and idiotic?

    That’s where we are with AJC sportswriters.

  57. He also needs people to read his columns and reporting, and if he’s delivering a “Yep, we still suck” narrative, people aren’t going to want to read about that for too long.

  58. @98, I had an extremely pleasant email exchange with DOB when he first came to the AJC – he was the first writer I’d ever seen use the term OPS there, and wrote about it in proper context. Watching him change his spots as well as adopt a shrill,brittle ‘company man’ persona has been a particularly sad journey to witness.

  59. @102, 103

    That just sounds like something I would say to try and explain away bad power years. I wish him the best (and hope he gets paid in FA), but I wish he’d be a little less catty about it.

  60. Here’s the quote: “You feel like there’s a governor on you and you’re not letting it ride,” Heyward said. “You have to think of other ways.”

    What came across as catty to me was how the reporter framed it, not the quote from Heyward himself. It does have a little bit of the “explain away” vibe to it; it also might really be how he felt (regardless of whether it actually had an impact on his hitting).

  61. If you look at the Glossary entry for Dave O’Brien, you’ll notice that Mac wrote “we like him” about him, eight years ago.

    If you ask me, I think there are two things going on, and they’re both related to the fact that he’s been covering the same team for like a decade.

    1) If you spend an extended portion of your career covering a single team, you become excessively dependent on them. Many people moderate the tone of their criticisms — self-censorship — because they don’t want to anger the people whose access they need. Baseball teams are federally sanctioned monopolies, and they are under no legal obligation to respond to the press. If they want to freeze you out, they can. And sometimes do.

    2) Then, of course, there’s tunnel vision. Once you spend almost all day, every day hearing the Braves’ perspective, it naturally starts to sound pretty good. This is basically the brain’s natural response to cognitive dissonance: it’s very hard to maintain a healthy skepticism of literally everything around you. It’s a lot easier to accept what’s around you. After all, the Braves are smart, and their arguments make sense.

    Back in the old days, O’Brien could approach the Braves from his perspective as a former Marlins beat writer: he could maintain a point of comparison and a healthy detachment. Now that he’s been on the job for so long, it’s much harder for him to do that. I don’t really blame him for it. I just don’t pay as much attention to him as I used to. It’s a shame, but there are so many other baseball writers out there that I don’t really mind that much.

  62. I would add a third point to @107: the brutal fact of the modern journalism marketplace.

    Even as recently as the early 2000s, when DOB made his bones at the AJC, the “daily beat writer” brought an access to the game that you just couldn’t really get anywhere else. Today? Every org has an official Twitter feed, as to most players, and there’s virtually nothing that is announced on the waiver wire or above that isn’t picked up nationally by the dedicated baseball blogs (I’m a devotee of NBC’s HarballTalk personally, because I know the two primary guys (Calcaterra, Gleeman) personally) near immediately.

    Dave O’Brien just doesn’t have much of a “news” angle any more. He’s not bringing fans anything they can’t find in a thousand other forums. So he has to work the “official voice of the beehive” angle more robustly than he may have had to 10 years ago. (And again, his primary audience is people who read the AJC for their sports fix; they’re not us. They’re looking for a different kind of coverage.)

  63. Apparently Jordan Schafer has pissed off his tatto artist, which led to a reveal that he has a tattoo of a penis on his ass.

  64. Man, it’s only the first couple of days of Spring Training and I’m already sick of having smoke blown up my ass about the team’s newfound character and leadership. I’m not even as down on the offseason as a lot of people are, but if you’re trying to sell me on what a great group of hardasses we have now, you need to find a better product. That sort of thing is absolutely insufferable, whether the team wins 96 or 66.

  65. Did you guys catch this tidbit this afternoon? It seems to fall in line with the musings I included toward the end of this Freeman post.

    Fredi & #Braves officials met w/ Freeman after Gattis trade, answered 1B's questions abt direction of team, players they got in trades, etc— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) February 23, 2015

  66. “Hey, dummy, aren’t you flattered? We’re building around you. We traded everyone else! It’s your team, now lead it.”

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