Monday, July 8, 2013

Freddie Freeman's Breakout First Half

I haven't been big on All-Star voting for probably five years or so.  It lost its complete appeal to me when it went online and people voted 200 times for every player on their team.  I'm probably wrong, but it seemed like people cared more when I was younger for who they voted for.  Now, it's stuff-the-ballot for guys who have missed the entire season.

With that in mind, I wasn't too heartbroken to see that only one Brave, Craig Kimbrel, was selected for the 2013 edition of the meaningless exhibition with a ridiculous reward.  However, the final vote options were announced and another Brave popped up as an option - Freddie Freeman.  Of course, there is a certain outfielder from the Dodgers who has played out of his mind that seems likely to win the little election, unless an anti-Puig campaign helps his competitors. 

Even if Freeman is getting some nice rest for the All-Star Break instead of playing in New York, he has definitely broken out as one of the top young bats in the game.  One of the most amazing numbers I have saw on Freeman is his Line Drive Percentage.  He entered Sunday's game with the best mark in the game, excluding non-qualifiers, at 31%, slightly bettered Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies.  While LD% in itself doesn't tell a complete story, it's difficult to not hit well when a third of what you do connect on is hit so solidly that it's rocketing somewhere on the field.  Fangraphs has his number slightly lower at 28.1%.  Regardless, his pitch recognition and bad control is off the charts.

His quick swing has allowed him to post a 2.35 wFB/c, or fastball runs above average per 1000 pitches.  That's basically a fancy way of saying he clobbers fastballs.  That mark is good for 8th in the majors.  It runs in complete opposite from the guy he usually follows in the order, Justin Upton, who I recently discussed. 

Freeman accomplishes all of this while remaining an aggressive hitter, but only on strikes.  While he will go out of the zone from time-to-time (his O-Swing% ranks 51st), Freeman is especially ready to go swinging at strikes, leading the majors by swinging at 83.2% of the strikes he receives.  Contrast that with Andrelton Simmons, who swings at just 61% of the strikes he receives, though a good deal of that probably is Simmons trying to take pitches and play the leadoff role, which is he is ill-suited for. 

When you combine all of this, it helps show why Freeman is excelling for the Braves.  Additionally, he hasn't even got his power game going this season, as evidence by his .159 ISO, a good forty points south of where it was last season. 

I don't know if Freeman should be an All-Star.  Honestly, I don't really care.  But during a season where nearly everyone has had a season to forget, it's refreshing to see one of these guys holding a bat capable of using it for its intended purpose with major league quality. 

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