With the fantasy seasons winding down and trade deadlines in many leagues being recently passed, a lot of fantasy advice at this point should be focused on next year and future seasons. As people who come to this site for fantasy news and notes, there is a high likelihood that you are the type of person who participates in long term fantasy leagues such as keeper and dynasty formats.
First base has been a quickly evolving position over the past few seasons. A serious injection of youth has jumped into the top few tiers of fantasy first basemen, and since most leagues have a utility spot and some have corner infield spots, loading up on quality first baseman is a sound strategy given the position’s notoriety in regards to having great hitters. Guys like Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, Brandon Belt, Eric Hosmer, and Freddie Freeman have proven to be valuable fantasy first baseman at a very young age.
To me, Freeman seems to be an undervalued member of this group. Goldschmidt is certainly the class of the group, and I was wrong to have predicted Rizzo to be the top first baseman in fantasy earlier this season when I did. The combination of power and speed puts Goldschmidt well above the other competitors, which is what I expected from Rizzo and still do expect from him in the future. Freeman does not quite have the power of Goldschmidt and definitely does not have the speed that add value to Goldschmidt’s and Hosmer’s fantasy resume, but he does have a great line drive bat that hits in a prime spot in a top notch lineup.
Freeman has also shown consistent improvements in his game as he continues to mature. His walk rate has improved each year while his strikeout rate has dropped. This year his ISO is back down to where it was in his first full season, but he has focused on shortening his swing and staying up the middle which has led to a .313 average and the fifth highest line drive percentage in baseball. Even though he is not a prototypical masher at the plate, ZiPS does project that he will finish the year with 20 home runs which would be his third consecutive season crossing that barrier. With the improvements he has made and the fact that he will play next season at age 24, it is difficult for me to put Freeman behind anyone other than Goldschmidt in that group.
The likelihood that Freeman turns into a Joey Votto or Albert Pujols is slight, but his long term floor as a high quality producer given the type of hitter he is and where he has seen his production increase over his first three seasons has an immense amount of value. In dynasty formats there are not many first baseman with more value than Freeman.
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