The expectations were reasonably high for Freddie Freeman in 2019 and (in the regular season) he absolutely delivered. However, Freeman has some work to do on his pride as he played in meaningless games down the stretch of the season just on principle. That ended up costing him in the Postseason, and as a result might’ve also cost the Braves a chance to win the National League (and more).
Statline: 158 games, 38 home runs, 121 RBI, 138wRC+, .389 OBP, .938 OPS, 4.0 fWAR
What went right?
Let’s start out with Freeman’s outstanding regular season. He set his career high in home runs allowed with 38, drove in over 100 runs for the first time since 2013 and was the heartbeat of the Braves juggernaut offense. Freeman did decline big time on the defensive side by most metrics but plays a serviceable first base.
Freeman continues to cut down on his strikeouts as he struck out only 127 times in 692 plate appearances. His walk rate also spiked back up over 12.5%. All while running a low BABIP by Freddie Freeman standards of .318.
What went wrong?
There’s no easy way to say it, but Freddie Freeman just turned in his worst defensive season since he was a rookie. While a fielding percentage of .996 doesn’t seem like a bad defensive season, it’s the balls that he doesn’t even get to that make it look bad. His UZR RngR which measures the number of defensive runs saved by having above average range was -7.9. Which in plain English means that Freeman’s lack of ability to get to balls hit in his area actually ended up costing the Braves nearly eight runs over the course of the season.
There also is this aforementioned issue with Freeman never wanting to take days off. Which is a great mentality to have until it starts becoming detrimental to your play (see Cal Ripken). Over the final month of the season Freeman hit just .264/.365/.389 with a 95 wRC+ which is unbelievably pedestrian for a guy like Freeman.
Freddie Freeman will suit up for the Braves in 2020 at first base barring some unforeseen disaster and he’ll hit .300/.400/.500 if he’s healthy. At 30 years old who knows how long it will be before Freeman begins to crest the hill and decline, but it’s safe to assume he wont reach that point on his current contract ending in 2021.
The hope for Freeman in 2020 is that he will finally allow the Braves to rest him after seeing how ineffective he was in the playoffs. While regular season games do matter in getting you to the Postseason, it goes without saying that the Playoff games are much more important, and the Braves really need the best Freeman they can get in those situations.