Rankings Counterpoint: Fretting Freddie Freeman
Underestimate Freddie Freeman at your own peril.
I have seen too many people pass over Freddie Freeman in fantasy baseball drafts. The most common complaint about Freeman is that he supposedly doesn’t hit enough home runs, especially for a first baseman. Well OK that is true to some extent. But Freeman did hit 23 home runs in each of the last two seasons. His 23 home runs were good for 11th among first basemen last year, which isn’t great but isn’t bad either. But consider that only 2 first basemen had more RBIs than Freeman (109 RBIs), and only 4 first basemen scored more Runs than Freeman (89 Runs). Then factor in that Freeman had the highest batting average ( .319 AVG) among all first basemen. Now Freddie Freeman is looking pretty freaking good.
But you know what the best part is? Freeman did all that while he was 23 years old! That is a huge, huge factor in dynasty leagues. How many players max out their power when they are 23 years old? Not many, if any at all. We can comfortably expect Freeman’s home run output to increase over the next several years. I don’t think it is unreasonable to predict Freeman to have several 30 home run seasons in his prime. Combine that growing power with a batting average in the .300 range and you are looking at a rare fantasy beast.
Freeman battled an oblique injury early last year. Oblique injuries take a long time to heal and are known to sap power from hitters. Under the effects of the oblique injury prior to the All Star break last year Freeman hit a home run every 35 at-bats. Presumably with a healed oblique after the All Star break he homered every 17 at-bats. If he were to get a full season of 600 ABs at that home run rate he would hit 35 bombs. That is simply fantastic power for a 23 year old hitter. I don’t think lack of power is a good reason for not drafting Freddie Freeman, especially in a dynasty league.
Like almost all first basemen Freeman is never going to steal many bases, but he is going to be highly productive in the other 4 fantasy categories for many years to come. He plays in a good hitting lineup that will provide him with plenty of opportunity to rack up Runs and RBIs. The Braves have a good young team with guys like Jason Heyward, Andrelton Simmons and Justin Upton surrounding Freeman in the lineup. If your league uses On-Base % as a category Freeman is a stud in that statistic too.
Freeman’s peripherals indicate his offensive output is for real, not a fluke. His line drive rate, K:BB ratio and contact rates are solid and raise no red flags. Given his youth we can expect his performance to improve over time as he gains experience and his body matures. He is already one of the better hitters in baseball, assuming a normal age-based progression he will soon be elite.
Going into the 2014 season Freddie Freeman should be drafted in the 2nd round of standard re-draft leagues. He should be snapped up in the 1st round of dynasty leagues and most keeper leagues. Now that you know how optimistic I am about Freeman’s future, you can imagine how excited I was to snare him with the 29th overall pick of The Dynasty Guru Experts League draft (#TDGX on Twitter). I considered taking him with the 12th pick of the 1st round and was absolutely thrilled to grab him in the 2nd round!
Seek Freeman out via draft or trade. If you make a trade for Freeman post your deal in the comments below.