Has Freddie Freeman’s Power Maxed Out?

Sep 12, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) slides under Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor (12) after a throwing error by Texas Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos (not pictured) in the eighth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Freddie Freeman has played four full years as the first baseman of the Atlanta Braves. Over those seasons, he hit 21, 23, 23, and 18 home runs.  I had hoped that Freeman would become a 25+ home run player which would make him one of the premier options in fantasy baseball, and I still think that will happen sooner rather than later.

I believe that Freddie Freeman will approach 30 home runs in a season and be a top 15 fantasy player. His 2014 season was slightly disappointing as Freeman’s numbers were not as impressive as they were in 2013.  Outside of a spectacular 31.0% line drive rate in 2014, Freeman posted superior stats in virtually every other category in 2013.

If Freddie Freeman managed to post a higher mark on a certain statistic in 2014 than in 2013, then it mostly was due to the fact that Freeman played a full 162 this season compared to 147 games in the prior season.  For example, Freeman scored 93 runs in 2014 and 89 runs in 2013.  The 89 runs that Freeman scored were at a higher rate per game, but in fantasy baseball, only the final number matters with respect to counting stats.

One of the few improvements that Freddie Freeman made at the plate this season was his plate discipline.  His walk rate jumped to 12.7%, which represented the fourth consecutive season where Freeman drew walks at a higher clip than ever before.  This is a positive trend that should signify future growth and greater value in OBP and OPS leagues.

From a fantasy perspective, the most alarming number may have been that Freeman’s 78 RBI’s were the lowest of his career since his rookie season back in 2011.  We very well know that RBI’s are often a product of opportunity and that the Braves struggled badly at the plate in 2014.  They scored only 573 runs this season, which was only more than the San Diego Padres.

There seems to be quite a bit of change on the horizon in Atlanta, so who knows how it will shake out, but I expect the Braves to at least partially recover.  I just find it hard to believe they will be that bad again offensively with quality hitters such as Freeman, Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Evan Gattis.  However, they will continue to be a very hit or miss offense again next season.

Despite these slightly negative comments about Freeman and the Braves in 2014, he remains the true stabilizing force for their lineup.  Let’s not forget that Freddie Freeman still posted 93 runs, 18 home runs, 78 RBI’s, a .288 AVG, .386 OBP, and an .847 OPS.  He did all of this at the age of 24.  By the way, most players tend to improve between 24 and 25, so why expect anything different for such a promising hitter?

Also, he has played in at least 147 games in every full season since his rookie year, so health is not a concern.  I believe that Freeman should be a four-category contributor with either a second or third round grade.  If Freddie Freeman falls past pick #25 in your draft, then I would grab him for sure.  He is a very safe pick with a very high floor and high ceiling.

I think Freddie Freeman will be a .300/30/100 player in 2015, despite his marginal drop-off in 2014.  That type of production is certainly worthy for your mid to late second rounder as a cornerstone for your fantasy baseball team.

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