Freddie Freeman has spent his entire career in an Atlanta Braves uniform and has seen plenty of ups and downs. As many of his teammates were traded away to facilitate the rebuild, Freeman remained and will now play in the World Series for the first time in his career.
Freeman got off to an uncharacteristically slow start in 2021. Whether that had anything to do with his still undecided contract situation we will likely never know. He settled in and returned to MVP form and was key to the Braves late surge.
Yeah, this feels pretty good. I think this might be the definition of pure joy,” Freeman said after the game. “It really is. I don’t really know how to feel. Usually we’re sitting in our locker and just thinking about the whole season and getting ready for next year, and we actually did it.”
“Going from 97 losses six years ago to doing this, it’s special, and to lose, in my opinion, the best player in the National League and we’re up here going to the World Series without Ronald Acuña Jr., It’s amazing what this team did.”
The Braves fell to a season-worst five games under .500 on June 16 and were eight games behind in the division. They didn’t climb above .500 until August a couple of weeks after Alex Anthopoulos acquired reinforcements at the trade deadline. There was talk of selling going into the All-Star break but that wasn’t something that Atlanta’s front office ever considered.
“To pick up what he did before the trade deadline too, getting Joc, and just letting us know that we believe in you, and losing Ronald at the All-Star break and then what he did getting Eddie, getting Adam back, getting Richard who helped us tremendously, Jorge, I would have to say yes,” Freeman said when asked about the deadline additions. “I mean, we had to pick up Ronald, and it feels like everyone on the team picked it up in the second half. It’s two different teams, really, from the first half to the second half, if you really look at it.”
One thing that this season brought the team was resiliency. There were plenty of bumps in the road from injuries to Ronald Acuña Jr. and Mike Soroka to guys simply getting off to a slow start. At times they scored runs but were unable to contain other teams. Other times they got solid pitching but couldn’t find a big hit. Freeman said that through it all, they never lost confidence.
“I just think it’s because of what we overcame this year,” Freeman said. “We have had like 40-foot potholes that we’ve hit, like humongous speed bumps, everything you could possibly see in a road we hit it, and we still somehow overcame all that. I think that’s what this team has is anything we got thrown at us, we overcame it.”
“You saw it. We lost Jorge, our leadoff hitter the last three weeks of the season right before the series, and we’re just like, okay, here we go, let’s just figure this out and keep going and I think that’s the thing,” Freeman added. “Everyone just looks at overall record. It’s just been how this team has played in the second half is what made us feel this confident about ourselves and what we’ve overcome. It’s just kind of the whole thing that put it all together to make us feel the way we feel.”