Bump Him Up Your '14 Lists: Freddie Freeman

Denis Poroy

When I think about potential names for my first-born, naturally, the first thing I do is look to those impactful on my fantasy team: Miguel Schwartz…doesn't really roll off the tongue nicely; Matthew (Harvey)…maybe; Freddie?! My wife said yes if it wasn’t for Freddie Kreueger.

When I think about potential names for my first-born, naturally, the first thing I do is look to those impactful on my fantasy team: Miguel Schwartz…doesn't really roll off the tongue nicely; Matthew (Harvey)…maybe; Freddie?! My wife said yes if it wasn’t for Freddie Kreueger.

If you read my Ballsy Forecast and my recent Review, you know I have a man crush on him. And here’s why…

Eno Sarris on FanGraphs points out (ironically on Freddie Freeman), we should see max ISO for at least another year (age 24 to 25), and while previous data dictates that, we see more and more elite hitters continuing to mash into their late 20’s. He’s only 23! Freddie Freeman will continue to lift the ball, hit more HR/FB and should improve his contact rate – in fact, look at his 2013 relative to ’11 & ’12:

Season

Team

Age

FB%

HR/FB

Contact%

BB%

K%

BABIP

LD%

GB%

FB%

IFFB%

xBABIP

2010

Braves

20

37.50%

16.70%

75.60%

0.00%

33.30%

0.2

18.80%

43.80%

37.50%

0.00%

2011

Braves

21

34.60%

14.00%

77.40%

8.30%

22.40%

0.339

23.00%

42.40%

34.60%

4.70%

2012

Braves

22

36.90%

14.80%

77.60%

10.30%

20.80%

0.295

26.00%

37.10%

36.90%

7.70%

2013

Braves

23

34.40%

13.00%

77.00%

10.70%

19.70%

0.37

27.40%

38.20%

34.40%

2.80%

0.361

stats & customizable player profiles courtesy of FanGraphs

Batting Average:

While he does have somewhat of an inflated BABIP (.370, which is driven by MLB’s 5th best line drive rate, 27.40%), his expected BABIP this year is .361. A career low fly ball rate (34.4%) and miniscule 2.8% infield fly ball rate helped the cause. The LD% and BABIP should regress next year, but increased discipline and an age-related contact increase should keep the average between .290 and .305.

Homerun Potential:

In the past, this was the concern with Freddie Freeman, and I think the homerun potential will always be limited to a HR total sub-30 without luck factoring in. This year he’s on pace for about 20, but missed a few weeks in April, which has affected the counting stats although he is still 10th in the majors in RBI’s. Let’s take a look at his average distance according to Jeff Zimmerman’s Baseball Heatmap’s Average Distance Leader board:

Rank

Stance

Year

Hits

Distance

Angle

FB%

HR/FB

2011

42

L

2011

135

292.56

-6.09

34.60%

14.00%

2012

76

L

2012

134

288.96

-3.43

36.90%

14.80%

2013

65

L

2013

83

290.6

-1.18

34.40%

13.00%

Total:

35.40%

14.10%

A slight increase in distance from last year but a small HR/FB drop. I predict his distance to rise again next year – with the ability to lift the ball more and some luck (and skill/authority driving the ball farther), we should see the HR/FB ratio jump as well. With some additional contact, we should see something along these lines:

580 At-bats * 77.75% contact rate * 36.25% fly ball rate * 16% HR/FB = 26 HR. But combine that with 95 R, 115+ RBI and a .290+ Avg. and we’re talking a top 3-5 1B and top 20 fantasy talent. Again, he missed a few weeks early on this year, but according to ESPN’s Player Rater, he’s 47th overall, the 30th best hitter and 7th best 1b. I don’t expect Chris Davis to repeat or Michael Cuddyer to stay healthy enough to keep Freeman out of the top 5.

Some have pointed to his minor league numbers and ISO-deflated stats, but he was never older than 20 in the minors! I (erroneously and admittedly) drafted him over Paul Goldschmidt this year, but I do think as of next year he has a chance to hold off Fielder, Encarnacion and Votto for the #2 overall 1B in standard 5x5 leagues.

*You can see where all us Fake Teams contributors ranked Freddie Freeman in our mid-season rankings.

.....

Dan Schwartz owns and contributes for Rotobanter.com – a site dedicated to fantasy baseball requests and live discussion. You can follow him on twitter @Rotobanter.

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