Freddie Freeman in Long Term Leagues

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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Ben Duronio writes for Capitol Avenue Club, FanGraphs, and does the Sports Illustrated Power Rankings. Follow Ben on twitter @Ben_Duronio.

7 Responses to “Freddie Freeman in Long Term Leagues”

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  1. Andrew says:

    I hope you’re right because I own him in my dynasty league, but I think he’s actually overvalued. That .373 BABIP has inflated his AVG. His power isn’t great for his position. He does seem to be improving, but it’s a stacked position. Again, I hope you’re right, though.

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  2. binqasim says:

    How does he compare to james loney’s first few years? That’s the guy comes to mind when I look at freddie’s game.

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  3. Kevin says:

    Loney’s first full season didn’t come until age 24 and he has yet to top 15 HR. Freddie is on pace for his 3rd consecutive season of 20+ HR in the majors and doesn’t turn 24 until next year. Freddie is also bigger, strikes out more and walks more.

    I’m not ready to limit Freddie’s power potential. Considering what he has already accomplished at such a young age and given his hitting ability and huge frame I think he has a good chance to turn into a 30+ HR guy in his prime.

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  4. derekmal says:

    I kinda agree w/ Andrew. In the leagues I play in, he seems overvalued. One of those guys I don’t think I’ll ever own for this reason. Just don’t see the power coming relative to value/draft position.

    A high floor is nice, but when it comes to dynasty, I feel like upside reigns supreme.

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  5. Brian says:

    So……should I trade wil Myers for ff in a keeper, no inflation?

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  6. Ruki Motomiya says:

    I’ve always felt Freeman is overvalued. He hits for a good average, but he won’t keep up a .373 BABIP: .330 and a .270-.280 AVG seems most likely. He hasn’t shown he will live up to his power potential: His ISOs go .166, .196, .169, so I’m thinking he’ll settle in the .170 range…20 HRs a season, 25 on lucky years? Not too great at 1B, where there is plenty of production. His run and RBI numbers are nice, but he does have to compete in a stacked lineup…and he doesn’t hit lefties too well: Even this year where he has massively improved against them in small ABs, it is a good 40 points of wRC+ less and he has almost no power (.099 ISO vs. lefties this year, .147 career ISO vs. lefties) vs. lefties.

    Freeman is often valued as a higher tier value, but he doesn’t play like one.

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  7. Jim Rouse says:

    I think he’s more comparable to Billy Butler than James Loney. However, he’s already topped Butler’s HR totals up to age 24, so I’d say give him Butler’s totals plus about 5 HR each year. That would give him 34 at his absolute peak, and I don’t think that’s unreasonable, since he’s 4 inches taller than BB, and should generate a bit more pop.

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