Free Freddie Freeman

“Freddie Freeman looks stiff. Freddie Freeman looks uncoordinated. Freedie Freeman looks awkward. Freddie Freeman can still hit.” Jason Grey, ESPN.com

It seems that there are few reasons to poo-poo Freddie Freeman‘s minor league record. He usually walked at an average rate (7.6% overall), never struck out in as many as 20% of his at-bats, and the only time he hit below .300 above rookie ball he had a terrible BABIP, especially for the minor leagues (.263). As a bonus, Freeman was always young for his league. That .896 OPS he just hung on Triple-A? He was 20.

But watch him play, and some doubt creeps in. The word stiff does come to mind. Then you look at his isolated power as he progressed through the minor leagues (.112, .206, .145, .094, .200 in order), and you wonder a little how much boom his stick will have – especially given his position. Last but now least, you might realize that the Braves just traded for another infielder, and counting Freeman now have five. You might get a little nervous.

In the end, his 2009 season may teach us more about Freeman than his excellent 2010 season at Triple-A. At 19 years old, he showed he could handle High-A, and his .145 ISO, paired with a 16.1% strikeout rate, was good enough to promote him to Double-A. There, the average age was 24.4, and perhaps it wasn’t surprising that Freeman struggled some against players five years older. Sure, his slugging plummeted to middle infielder levels, but the league-wide slugging percentage in the Southern league that year was .380, so it wasn’t the most slugger-friendly of leagues. Bryan Smith rated it as perhaps a touch pitcher-friendly when he showed that the league-wide ISO was .127.

2010 did happen. He put up a .200 ISO in a league where the average was .147, and Justin Inaz at The Hardball Times did not have the International League as a particularly hitter-friendly. What we can see is that there’s a chance that Freeman struggles at first when he gets to the majors next year, as he struggled when he first got to Double-A. He’ll be seven-and-a-half years younger than average when he joins the Braves, and the leap from the minors to the majors is similar to the leap from High-A to Double-A.

Eventually, he should get it right. That’s what he’s always done, and no matter how stiff and uncoordinated he looks, he can hit. But fantasy owners looking for a 2011 sleeper in a re-draft league may want to hold on to some of their skepticism. It may not happen right away, and the Braves do have a beefy glove-second second baseman with first-baseman-type power now. They have options and they may have to use them before the year is through.




Print This Post

Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


26 Responses to “Free Freddie Freeman”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Eno Sarris says:

    Freeman did have some nagging injuries in Double-A as Joe Lucia from Chop’N’Change noted, and that’s significant. But injuries are also part of the package with Freeman – he missed time in the AFL with injuries, and he’s been nicked up from time to time.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mr. Sanchez says:

      His AA numbers should contain an asterisk due to a severely damaged wrist.

      While nagging health issues may crop up going forward, I still don’t the power questions for a guy who slugged what he did, at his age, in AAA with a massive frame he’s still growing into. He’s no Mike Stanton, but compare his minor league age/level/numbers with Chipper Jones, and he’s pretty favorable to the old man, who’s slugged pretty well in the bigs.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Mike says:

    In a keeper league (keep 15), would you keep him ahead of either Gaby Sanchez or Ike Davis?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eno Sarris says:

      I think it depends on your status in the league. If you are ready to contend now, Sanchez is the safest pick. Davis will show a little more power, but his batting average makes him a medium pick, safer than Freeman, more powerful and riskier than Sanchez. Freeman is the clear upside pick of the three in my mind. How long do you want to wait is the question.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Steve says:

    wait are you saying the braves are going to play him at second base? thought he played first? sry the ‘beefy glove-second second baseman’ is confusing me.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Steve says:

    ^nevermind.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. thebandogora says:

    Frank Wren has been pretty adamant that Freeman will be the opening day first baseman. The organization seems very high on him, even calling him up for a cup of coffee last year to get his feet wet.

    I think it’s Freeman at 1B, Uggla at 2B, and Prado in LF if Chipper is back. Otherwise Prado at 3B. Freeman should have his position clear for him no matter what.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eno Sarris says:

      agreed that your setup is how the season will begin. But this is a team built to win now, how long will Wren watch Freeman struggle? I’m just saying a short-term option, and someone (maybe Uggla) taking reps at first base wouldn’t shock me.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Undocorkscrew says:

        Even if Freeman struggles with the bat, his defense is apparently almost elite already. Wren doesn’t a seem like a guy who’s really impatient with players, especially young guys. He’ll stick with him, but if he’s hitting in the low .200’s with little power by the break, they’ll figure something else out.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nick Stahl says:

        I don’t think Wren will be making the call.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Mr. Sanchez says:

        Uggla’s too short for 1B, Prado would play there before him.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • prince says:

        uggla is the same height as me and kung fu panda

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. bvillebaron says:

    Freeman will be fine. Regardless of how “stiff” he looks, he played a very good first base whenever I saw him play. I agree that he may struggle initially (that has been his history with each promotion), but I think a lot of so-called “experts” have underrated his potential.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Freeman has a line-drive swing that has shown limited power potential. For roto purposes and given the depth at 1B, this limits his value a bit.

      No one is discounting his potential as a .300 AVG, 20 HR bat down the road, but let’s temper expectations for 2011.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Undocorkscrew says:

        I think he’ll end up with a .280, 14 HR, 65 RBI line in about 450 PA’s. He will likely struggle early on, as that’s almost always the case with Freeman, but I really do like his bat and especially his defense at 1B.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Of course his potential is only 20 HR. He only hit 18 in 124 games as a 20 year old in AAA. Clearly he’s never going to match that rate in the majors.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Jaik Jarrkjens says:

    I’m a Braves fan, so I want Freeman to succeed, but I don’t understand why he gets rated as a top prospect – neither his power nor his patience seem elite. Looking at his minor league stats, his upside seems to be that of a 20 homer, .360 OBP hitter with a good glove at first base. That’s pretty much Adam Laroche with maybe better defense. I guess Heyward spoiled me. When I hear people talking about a “top prospect,” now, I expect to look at his stat line and see an elite skill, like Heyward’s OBP.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • cavebird says:

      Jaik—that just isn’t fair. Comparing prospects to Heyward is going to make almost all of them look bad. Freeman is not the prospect Heyward was, almost nobody is. His upside is higher than you state, what you state seems to be a middle ground scenario. Patience is usually improved as a player ages and power sometimes increases. He is still very young, time will tell.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Nitram Odarp says:

      Go look at Adrian Gonzalez’s minor league stats. They aren’t as good as Freeman’s, they came in more hitter friendly leagues, and he was older at each stop.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. harpago17 says:

    Unless Freeman suffers some sort of injury, he’ll be given plenty of time to adjust to the majors. Atlanta has shown a history of giving young players plenty of time to get their feet wet….occasionally too much time (they kept running Jordan Schafer out there in 2009 even though it was later discovered he was playing with a broken wrist). The organization sees Freeman as a huge part of their future, and I don’t think there is any chance they mess around with his playing time for fear of stunting his development.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Kulani23 says:

    The tape-measure shot he hit off of Roy Halladay is evidence of his power potential…he definitely has more than just a line-drive swing. And, the Braves believe him to be at least an above average defender. So, the only question is…can he put it all together at the major-league level?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dubs says:

      One play doesn’t constitute power potential. I agree that he may be able to hit for some power given his size and strength but you can’t call one hack evidence of power potential.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Nitram Odarp says:

    Freeman looks a lot more athletic now than he did the the 2009 AFL video you posted. He’s dropped the baby fat, and is actually pretty skinny now. I also think the swing looks a little more athletic/less stiff than it did previously.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. JH says:

    How is a 7.6% BB-rate “average”? It’s certainly not average for a good prospect. It’s well below par for a 1B prospect. Hell, it’s not even “average” for the international league. League average BB-rate in the IL was 8.4%.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Freeman Believer says:

    One more thing to back up the author’s point about the probability that Freeman will have a slow start in MLB would be that Freeman has a very slow start this year in AAA. His first 2 months @ Gwinett his OPS was around .715 (April) and .790 (May) before busting out. The expectation that Freeman will go through at least a a month or two of severely limited production is perfectly reasonable.

    However, I’m much higher on him than the current pundits are. 1st, he recovered from that wretched 2 month stretch to bring his OPS near .900 – a somewhat remarkable feat considering his age/league. 2nd, his power potential has been well discussed, but the power someone shows @ 20 is not always the power someone shows @ 27. Even so, if he can OPS around .900 @ the MLB level, then that would put his bat in the top 15-20 among qualifiers in all MLB (both leagues). It’s not like there’s a need to get a lot more out of his bat that he hasn’t already shown.

    Still, my only worry is exactly what Eno Sarris says in the post above: if he does struggle out of the gate and the team and/or the FO loses confidence in him, then would that shatter his confidence?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>