The 44 Greatest Atlanta Braves, #29: Freddie Freeman (by bledsoe)

No. 29: Freddie Freeman
Braves Seasons: 2010-2014
LH Hitting, RH Throwing First Baseman
.285/.366/.466; 104 HR, 424 RBI, 405 RS, 129 OPS+

I simply love this guy. Frederick Charles Freeman came to the Braves from Orange County, California, taken in the second round of the draft in 2007. After hitting well at all levels through the Braves farm system, he was a September callup in 2010, and then, in 2011, the Braves opening day first baseman at 21. He finished second in the ROY to Kimbrel, hitting .282 with 21 HRs and 76 RBI. His best year was 2013: 23 HRs, 109 RBI, and an .897 OPS.

Freddie’s plate coverage is a thing of beauty. He will go down and get a breaking ball on his knees and golf it off the foul pole, as Gio Gonzalez has learned. I fully expect that some of Freddie’s doubles (43 in 2014) will become homers over time. I can easily see him settling in the 25-30 HR range, and I can also see him hitting above .300 a few seasons.

Freddie’s fielding is not too shabby either. Career FP is .994, but anecdotally, I am continually amazed at his ability at picking bad or late throws, often doing a split that a 6-5 guy shouldn’t be able to make. He’s pretty slick, especially for his size.

I’ve put him in at new No. 29, below Rico Carty and above Rick Camp. I wouldn’t worry too much about this ranking – it’s temporary. He’s the first new addition to the 44 who’s still playing for the Braves. With two more regular seasons, he’ll be in the top 20. He’s signed through 2021 and appears to be the successor to Chipper as the Face of the Franchise. Barring some sort of catastrophic injury, I expect that he may wind up in the top 10 in this list.

My kids and I have a ritual. Whenever Freddie comes to the plate, or hits a dinger, or just is shown in the ondeck circle, we yell at the TV: Freddie FREEEEEEEE! Join in. It’s fun.

77 thoughts on “The 44 Greatest Atlanta Braves, #29: Freddie Freeman (by bledsoe)”

  1. So the write-up is wonderful, obviously. It’s easy to love Freeman and easy to love knocking on Gio Gonzalez.

    Having said that, I think you’re out of your mind putting Kimbrel ahead of Freeman and (whenever he shows up) Heyward. And probably Simmons, too. Kimbrel’s the best relief pitcher we’ve ever had, and he’s on his way to being one of the best ever, and he’s as entertaining a s’umbich as I can remember watching out on the mound, but I don’t think that his 4 seasons come close to Freeman’s and Heyward’s 5.

  2. @1 – Seconded about Kimbrel over Freeman/Heyward. And thirded about Freeman over Heyward.

    RE: previous thread…
    Olivera’s value is significantly eroded if he’s a left fielder. I’m only getting more pissed off about that trade. Also, turning Shelby Miller into more prospects would be cruel and unusual punishment for the segment of the fanbase more interested in the actual team than its stack of lottery tickets.

  3. Previous thread: I fail to understand the argument that a deep FA market will somehow make guys like Bourn and Swisher more valuable in trade. There will be value to be had on the FA market and unless the Braves pick up all or most of Bourn or Swisher’s salaries they have no value. Expecting a team to take Bourn with the Braves eating less than 2 million is exactly the same as saying that Bourn could fetch 7 million on a one-year deal if he were a FA, which is totally nuts, in my opinion. A team that needs a DH might sign Swisher on a one year incentive-laden deal, but even with all of the incentives it wouldn’t be anywhere close to a ten million dollar contract. Maybe a third of that.

  4. Responding to mravery’s comments in the last thread — The UGA job is a better one than the Southern Cal job. If UGA fires Richt, it will not have to settle for USC’s second choice.

  5. I disagree. I think USC, not on probation, may be the best job in college football.

    I don’t think Georgia and USC will be in competition for the same coaches though.

  6. Hahahahahahahaha.

    I thought the justification for the LOLivera trade was the positional scarcity of third basemen?

    This trade is the gift that keeps on giving, comedy-wise…

  7. @7

    My understanding is that with USC being a private school, they really don’t have a governor on what they can pay their coaches, and often choose to pay more. Could be wrong.

  8. Well we’ve got a few 3rd base prospects that will be ready to contribute by 2018. That’s always been the goal – compete by the time the pedestrian bridge at the new stadium is open.

  9. Welcome the differing opinions. That’s what makes this fun. And this is hard to do, and I did put a lot of agonizing over it.

    Could Freddy be higher? Sure. Couple of defenses:

    1) Keep in mind that I have working off the rubric of Mac’s holy list. (Thank God — I wouldn’t have the guts to do this from scratch.). My task is to slot them in where they fit on that list. So as a result, I don’t know any other way to do that than to compare like to like: hitters to hitters, starters to starters, relievers to relievers (Again, thank God for Mac’s list. The most difficult thing here is how to value pitchers vs hitters in terms of career value.) So for Kimbrel, I compared him to the relief pitchers on the list. He’s the best we’ve ever had. So unless you want to give the nod to Garber for just longevity points, he has to rank higher than Garber. I put him in at No. 22, while Garber falls to No. 26 due to new blood entering above him.

    So where to put Freddy? Mac relied heavily on Runs Created to make his list. Freddy is 18th in that stat among Braves eligible for this list. If that were the only criterion, he’d come in at No. 25, as there are seven pitchers above him.

    In Atlanta Braves Runs Created, he trails Ralph Garr (New No. 23) and Glenn Hubbard (New No. 36). He’s behind Carty (new 28)but slightly ahead of McGriff (new 21) and Klesko (new 25)(whose elevated positions in Mac’s list are due to their impact on playing on good and championship teams, one of Mac’s original criteria). So if I’m off in figuring where Mac would put him,(again, that’s my task as I have undertaken it) it’s not by much.

    2) Two biases may have occurred. One, I truly love this player and may have dropped him a slot or two in second guessing that my bias would lead me to overrate him. Second, I know that this is NOT where he ends up, so I didn’t sweat the exact ranking so much. That discussion won’t happen for a decade if we’re lucky. He’ll pass Kimbrel in a year, two at the outside.

    You can swat my Heyward ranking when he shows up, and I will try to defend.

  10. At first glance, I don’t like the Olivera-to-LF arrangement. I do know that I can’t interpret each move individually but as part of the overall plan, but it would seem that Olivera has significantly more value as a 3B than a LF, but maybe his 3B defense is just that bad and they have a plan for 3B.

  11. @3
    The FA market is full of talent that will want multi-years and lots of dollars. Acquiring Bourn or Swisher won’t cost either years, nor many dollars.

    While I agree that neither Bourn nor Swisher would fetch their current contracts on the free agent market, they’re not free agents, and there aren’t many players that are free agents that are like them: veteran bounceback candidates with good clubhouse reputations.

    The Braves will have to eat some of the contracts, but I’d bet we’d all be surprised how little that might be.

  12. To converge these conversation threads: Hector Olivera, Left Fielder seems like it comes from the same string of poor life choices that results in Faton Bauta, Dropback Quarterback and Brice Ramsey, Punter.

  13. @17-I guess I don’t see why anyone would think either guy is a good bounce back candidate. Swisher will be 35 and has put up two straight -1.2 WAR seasons. His injuries are chronic. Bourn will be 33 and his skill set appears to be in precipitous decline. I agree that there is probably some team out there willing to spend a couple million on him. But not 5 or 6, let alone 9 or 10.

  14. Who was the Braves last league average left fielder?

    Never mind. I guess JUp was pretty good. Old age strikes again.

  15. Bourn and Swisher were bounceback candidates in ’15, and neither bounced back. In fact, both sunk further. It was all Bourn could do to hit with any authority back when he was good — I think he’s essentially Louth 2.0. As for FA candidates who’ve shown at least credible results more recently than either…Francoeur, Pearce, Denorfia, Venable, DeJesus, Rios.

  16. @19 – If we’re looking to take the Royals’ route, we’ve got another 9 years to wait for a playoff team.

  17. If Olivera hits even a little better than he did last season, it’s not crippling to have him in LF because we’re not paying him much.

    It’s what it says about our talent evaluation that’s the problem. And it means, assuming we keep Andrelton too, that we really need offense out of every other position on the field. Goodbye, Jace.

    As we’ve discussed, banking on Bourn and Swisher to save our offseason…the analogy still holds.

  18. Also, part of the reason why Swisher was traded was the other Indians players soured on his antics once he stopped producing on the field.

  19. After months of feverishly defending the rebuild, an Olivera-to-LF without some sort of genius corresponding move would cause me to question the process. It’s not so much the money that we’re paying him. Had we signed him as a FA for that figure, then that’s fine, but we traded one of our best prospects and a decent starting pitcher for him, in what was a essentially a swap for an additional $30M owed him. If you parse the trade effectively into, say, $30M for Peraza or $30M for Wood, then you have to add that $30M to what we’re paying him now. So then it becomes LF Hector Olivera at $11M per year, and I’m not sure if I’m seeing the value there. If that’s the scenario here, and we have money to spend now, I’d rather held onto Wood and bought a slightly-above average LFer in this year’s FA market for $11M. If I’m wrong in my evaluation, someone please correct me.

  20. @26, the fact that he was available 12 months ago for money, but they declined to pay the market rate and essentially sold ten combined years of Peraza and Wood’s control for $30MM is exactly why I’ve thought this trade was the signature move of a cheap-ass organization since the day it was made.

    Welcome to the dark side! Grab some popcorn and watch a major league front office demonstrate the Dunning-Kruger effect whilst being cheap.

  21. “If Olivera hits even a little better than he did last season, it’s not crippling to have him in LF because we’re not paying him much.”

    We’re paying him $6 million plus Wood and Peraza’s lost production. That’s a lot for a shitty LF.

  22. It bears noting that Alex Wood had an ERA+ of 86 in LA after the trade. He may bounce back to the 100-110 range of course, but he didn’t precisely dominate out there in Chavez Ravine after we traded him.

    Jose Peraza is still very young, but he did little to nothing in the PLC before doing even less in a brief cup of coffee with the Dodgers.

  23. We’ve certainly debated the trade ad nauseum, and it does appear that perhaps both teams didn’t fleece the other team, as Wood and Peraza haven’t taken off and neither has Olivera. If moving Olivera to LF allows him to focus on his offense and he ends up becoming Yoenis Cespedes-lite, then it’s a great trade. If he hit like he did in September and doesn’t play 3B, then it’s a bust. The “you could have had him last year for just money” issue for a team with talent issues but extra money is just puzzling.

    The caveat that keeps getting missed is that he’s not really a 30 year old. His body has seen considerably less miles than your average 30 year old MLB player, and he also hasn’t had the coaching either. The dude is a specimen, and the Braves need to get the best out of him.

  24. From Bowman:

    If the Braves were to reach a point where they were looking for a different manager, Mark DeRosa will likely be one of the top candidates. DeRosa does not possess any coaching experience. But he has remained close to the game with his MLB Network duties, and his communications skills have been lauded dating back to his earliest days as a utility man in Atlanta.

    Interesting. However, he does annoy the heck out of me on MLB Central or whatever. For such an intelligent adult, he talks like a college student way too often.

  25. I’m not defending the trade, per se. Nor am I defending moving him to LF, per se. I am simply pointing out the “ERMAHGAH WE GAVE UP A HUNNERD YERS O’ COST CONTROLLED ALLSTARS!!!” talking point isn’t 100% on point.

    RE: the move to LF, we have him now. The trade is over and done. So now the organization’s job is to find the spot in the field and in the lineup where he brings the most value to the team. If that’s in LF, then so be it.

  26. @31, I get and agree with your point, but I’m trying to say something different. They made the team worse, and they may have made it worse for 2017 too, but now that he’s a sunk cost, it doesn’t stop the team from contending by itself.

    If Olivera can be OF league average with the bat, which may still be possible, they will need offense at every other position if they’re going to carry Andrelton too. It’s surmountable, but almost certainly not by 2017.

  27. @35

    Well, we’ve now apparently gotten to the point where the beat writers are discussing directions we might go if we were to switch managers. I’d say that’s the first real sign (other than speculation about the one-year-plus-team-option extension) that, barring a crazy rebound, this is probably Fredi’s last year.

  28. DeRos has that Southeastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey accent. Press conferences could get real tough to watch.

  29. Question: Would hiring DeRosa as manager make it more or less likely that CJ would serve as batting coach?

  30. @41

    Does it? There have been a ton of no-experience hiring. I’d love to see if someone did a write-up about it.

  31. Call me when Olivera actually stands in left field in actual games for 5 straight days. Until then, he’s the third baseman.

  32. I think the Olivera experiment in LF is partly “spreading the eggs into different baskets.” Every team trying to trade us a 3B or LF will hear, “Well, we think we can play Olivera there . . .”

  33. @43-Call me when Olivera actually stands in the the field in actual games for 5 straight games…at any position. Until then he’s just a big question mark, injury-related and otherwise.

  34. Bowman is already laying out the talking points for Olivera in LF. “In September, Olivera looked stiff and uncomfortable at third.” I expect to see him as the opening day LF, and Adonis most likely the opening day 3b, with Ruiz in the wings if he can figure out the upper minors.

    Maybin will be the placeholder in CF until Mallex Smith is deemed ready, which shouldn’t be much longer.

    I don’t know what the Braves are going to do at catcher.

  35. A DeRosa hire would seem to follow the “strong front office, weak manager” template that’s all the rage, except that they’re putting the Ivy Leaguer in the wrong position….

  36. @36: if you trade me a quarter and a nickel for a dime, you’d be right in observing that I didn’t run you bankrupt, but I’d be right in observing that you’re bad at trading things.

  37. @#54

    Thanks, DG. I rode MARTA for well over thirty years when I lived in Atlanta, so I tend to be early rather than late.

  38. AS I’m thinking about the 44 Greatest Braves List, I can’t forget about the 44 Not Greatest Braves. BJ/Melvin, Uggla, and Chris Johnson definitely deserve consideration and I think they meet the longevity requirements.

  39. So I guess Pruitt will be out? Does one add him to the coaching candidates for the jobs piling up in the offseason?

  40. Apparently Pruitt is staying for now, according to Richt anyway. But still there’s nothing quite like the dreaded vote of confidence.

  41. UGA has reached the “insane rumormongering”/”head coach has to tweet votes of confidence” portion of the meltdown.

    Hey, are we planning on scheming to beat Kentucky this weekend? That might be a thing we should look into doing. When you’re not busy, guys.

  42. #67
    I think Pruitt is a good DC, but it appears that he doesn’t play so well with others. From what I’ve heard, he made waves after last season about the new indoor facility, etc.

    Well, the story in DawgNation from Chip Towers & Seth Emerson is where most of this stuff started. Both of those guys are good reporters & there’s no doubt in my mind that their sources are credible.

    But yeah, from Jimbo Fisher to Dan Mullen, the names of potential successors are starting to pile up.

  43. ububba at 70,

    Pruitt may have been the wrong kind of waves, but somebody needed to be making waves. Bad special teams play. 12 men on the field over and over.

    AND, if Pruitt was that bad, who was it that hired him? And why did uga need a new defensive coordinator (because since the Van Gorder days we had mostly been pitiful).

    I figure that Pruitt has said something more pointed than his statement in the wrap up of the most recent Jacksonville debacle. That is, what difference does it make if we hold them scoreless and they get one TD off of our special teams. I am surprised at Fran Tarkenton’s negative comments. I don’t think he is an alarmist. But, I don’t see how he is the primary problem (UNLESS in the divided special teams set up a lot of that is on him).

  44. #71
    You’re probably not wrong.

    I’m totally projecting here, but I’m assuming that after his experiences in Tallahassee & Tuscaloosa (and all that entails), he’s been surprised with what he’s found in Athens, especially in terms of the culture of the program & level of support from administration.

    Of course, he could be a rampaging asshole who quickly wears out his welcome wherever he goes. But, at this point, it appears that the ball is already rolling down the hill.

  45. Well Pruitt did leave FSU after just one year (and a title to boot) to lateral to Georgia for the same position after promising Jimbo he’d stay for longer. Lots of speculation, none of it particularly flattering, on why he left.

  46. Right, he allegedly had an issue in Tallahassee for which a move to Athens didn’t necessarily seem like a great fix….

  47. I’m convinced the entire staff is gone. The rumors from credible boards are off-the-charts unaccceptable. Total dysfunction. Time to clean house.

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