Today is Freddie Freeman’s 30th Birthday!
It is amazing that Freeman has been a source of nightmares for pitchers for nearly a decade . A few of the highlights of his career include becoming the owner of a sports franchise (the Mets), a walking tutorial of awkward dance moves, and the premier source of congratulatory hugs in all of sports. Oh, he also has played some pretty decent baseball.
For Freeman, like many, turning 30 is naturally viewed as the potential mid-point of a successful baseball player’s career. While there is a good chance that the peak of a player’s career could be behind him, there is just as much of a chance his best years are ahead. Freeman currently is having arguably the best offensive season of his career (in terms of counting stats), and with the young talent around him, he should continue producing as one of the best hitters in baseball for the foreseeable future.
Freeman made an impact right out of the gate in terms of his potential at the plate. Nearly nine years ago (September 21st, 2010), Freeman hit his first major league home run off Roy Halladay. Many felt Freeman had the potential to be an All-Star, but the fact that he has developed into an annual MVP candidate has been one of the most memorable occurrences in the history of the Braves franchise. It seems logical to say that Freeman’s best asset so far in is career has been his offensive consistency. While Freeman may not be on pace to break any all-time records or be considered a slam dunk Hall of Famer, few have been able to reach his offensive peak year after year. That is true both in terms of the Braves and throughout baseball history.
In terms of career numbers for past and present Braves before the age of 30, Freeman’s name is found in the top ten of almost every offensive category. Freeman is 6th in games played, 4th in runs, 4th in hits, 2nd in doubles, 4th in walks, 4th in RBIs, and 6th in home runs. His offensive production has resulted in a career total of 34.9 offensive WAR produced in his 20’s, the fifth highest mark in franchise history.
While plate appearances may not be an indicator of elite talent on the surface, having more than 5000 plate appearances before his 30th birthday puts Freeman in elite company. Only Hank Aaron, Andruw Jones, and Eddie Matthews have completed that feat in franchise history. Being in a group with two Hall of Famers and one of the most productive players in his 20’s in baseball history shows how special Freeman has been.
Beyond the Braves, Freeman is one of only 36 players in major league history who has produced a career OPS higher than .880 with more than 5000 plate appearances before the age of 30. Of those 36 players, 25 are currently in the Hall of Fame. In terms of active players, only Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Mike Trout have accomplished this feat along with Freeman. As can be seen, while Freeman has never won an MVP or threatened for a triple crown, his elite level of consistency that began at a young age has been truly historic.
Freeman has five seasons where he finished with a slash line of .300/.380/.500 or better with an OPS of .880 or higher before the age of 30. Only Chipper Jones, with 6 seasons, accomplished that feat more in his 20’s. Of the 36 players in baseball history who have accomplished that season stat line five or more times in their 20’s, 27 are in the Hall of Fame. The only current players who achieved this feat along with Freeman are again Pujols, Cabrera, and Trout.
Freeman is one of 19 players in MLB history to have at least 1400 hits, 600 walks, 225 home runs and 800 RBIs. This stat alone provides insight to the all-around production Freeman provides, and reveals how young he was when he started providing it. From getting on base to hitting for power (regardless of what Harold Rey to driving in runs, Freddie has become one of the most feared hitters in the league for good reason. His ability to find success in multiple ways at the plate regardless of the situation is on the level of many Hall of Famers.
For his career, Freddie’s career slash line stands at .294/.380/.506, along with a career OPS of .886. Only 18 players in MLB history have produced that stat line or better in 5000 plate appearances or more before the age of 30. 12 of the 18 are currently in the Hall of Fame, with Alex Rodriguez, David Wright, Pujols, Cabrera and Trout also included in this prestigious group.
Along with firmly establishing himself as one of the best hitters in franchise history, Freeman has also been one of the productive in the game when compared to his peers. Among active players, Freeman ranks in the top ten in runs, hits, doubles, walks, RBIs and home runs produced before the age of 30. He also is in the top ten of offensive WAR and extra base hits.
It’s these little moments in baseball which I love... pic.twitter.com/KwbAW26nWn— DC (@DanClarkSports) September 8, 2019
The Braves franchise and Braves fans need no reminder of how valuable and amazing Freddie has been this decade. He is arguably one of the most beloved Braves in franchise history, and currently one of the most beloved players in the game of baseball. There is a logical chance Freeman is finishing up his fourth top ten MVP campaign of the decade, and though he has never won one, it is just another validation of how rare of a talent Freeman has become.
As mentioned above, there has never been much chatter about Freddie Freeman being one of the truly elite talents of his generation or in baseball history. The lack of statistical titles and individual awards is a logical reason as to why Freeman gets lost in the shuffle. However, if you were to ask people of any baseball fandom what three active players have the best chance to get into the Hall of Fame, I feel confident that Trout, Pujols, and Cabrera would be a popular answer. Freeman’s career has not been on the level of these three players; however, the fact that Freeman is the only other active player to achieve the elite stat thresholds mentioned above at the ages he has certainly supports the idea that Freeman is in the midst of a Hall of Fame career.
If further proof is needed, according to Freddie Freeman’s profile page at baseball-reference.com, the player Freeman most closely compares to at this point in his career is Eddie Murray. As seen above, the offensive production for both during their 20’s was very similar. While Freeman may not achieve the overall career counting stats of Murray in the end, the close comparison to Murray’s career is undeniable.
For many, turning 30 is a big milestone in life, one in which your approach and mindset toward almost everything seems to change. When it comes to Freddie Freeman and his baseball career, it seems he could be the exception to the rule. He just simply needs to remain the same amazing player and person each of us cherishes cheering for daily.
Thank You Freddie, and Happy 30th Birthday! Here is hoping we get to enjoy another decade of watching your amazing career unfold.