Apr 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves third base coach Bo Porter (16) congratulates first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) after a home run against the Miami Marlins in the fourth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Before the season started, Billy Moy identified Freddie Freeman as a potential bust candidate in this article, and I was excited about his potential back in October in this article. While Billy certainly brought up some great points, I am not sure that I would have sold him so short.
In the Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks draft, Freeman went 27th overall as the third pick of round three. That seems to be right around where he was drafted in most leagues because a lot of people were concerned about the ghastly lineup surrounding him in Atlanta. I would have had no problem drafting Freddie Freeman at that juncture, especially if I did not have a 1B in the first two rounds.
First off, I should address the elephant in the room about Freddie Freeman’s run and RBI production with a lineup of Nick Markakis and players who are maybe AAA bats. In 2014, the Braves had a terrible offense and Freeman still scored 93 runs and drove in 78 RBI’s.
I highly doubt that it would much be worse than 2014 when the Braves scored 573 runs, which was the second worst in MLB. Their 545 RBI’s from last season also finished 29th in all of baseball. If you were wondering, the San Diego Padres finished dead last in both of those categories. Could the Braves be without Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Evan Gattis? Sure, but I doubt they fall off much more.
Last season, Freddie Freeman led all of Major League Baseball with a stellar 31% line drive rate. His batted ball profile had roughly an equal number of outcomes between grounders, line drives, and fly balls. While more flies increases your chance of homers, Freeman’s batted ball profile shows that he makes a lot of good contact. It is no surprise that he has a career .286 batting average and .338 BABIP with his high percentage of well hit balls.
Even though Freeman had the lowest fly ball rate of his career in 2014 with a FB% of 32.5%, he also had a career low with his 11.9% HR/FB rate. His career HR/FB% is 14.1%, so it would certainly be likely that Freddie Freeman would have a better HR/FB rate than that this season. That alone leads me to believe that Freeman should return to at least 20 homers this year and maybe even hit 25 bombs this year.
Another part of investing in Freddie Freeman is that you are paying for a high floor. Even if I spent the 25th pick on Freeman, I realize that I am probably not getting a top 25 fantasy player because he does not have elite power at first base. However, he is a virtual lock to finish in the top 50 players with his high average and very solid counting stats.
I also like the fact that Freddie Freeman has had a pretty solid bill of health in his first four seasons. He has never missed more than 15 games in a year, and he is even coming off of a 162 game season last year. At only 25 years old and locked into the starting job, he is less of a health risk than the average player, so I would think he is one of the safest bets to play 150+ games in the Majors this year.
It is near impossible for Freeman to ever produce much more than his ADP because he is more of a real life star than a fantasy stud, but I also think it would be shocking for the only really good hitter in Atlanta to be a complete bust in 2015. I expect him to have a better fantasy season than 2014 even if his team could be absolutely wretched on offense.