#9 – Freddie Freeman

See the 44 Greatest Atlanta Braves here.

You can see the original post from 2015 by bledsoe here. At the time, he did a great job, and said it all. Since then, Freddie has done even more to move his way up towards the very top of the list.

He’s our Chipper Jones. It may not seem that way since we’re not winning pennants and appearing in round after round of playoff series, but Chipper also had Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Andruw Jones, Javy Lopez, etc. to play with, and Freddie in the last few years has had to settle for a much less impressive supporting cast.

In the last 3 years, Freddie has averaged a .306/.396/.549 line (150 OPS+), 28 home runs, 8 stolen bases, Gold Glove-caliber defense (winning it in 2018), and leading the league in games played, hits, and doubles in 2018. He’s the rock of the team. Had he not taken a pitch off his hamate bone in 2017, there’s no doubt he would have averaged at least 160 games played these past 3 years.

It’d be nice to see some more home runs out of Freddie, but like I said, he led the league in doubles, and he’s a sure bet to give you 40+ of them in a full season.

Even though he’s from California, he embodies Atlanta. Depending on how you feel about Matt Ryan, you can make the argument he’s the most loved athlete in Atlanta. He represents the most loved team in Atlanta better than you could hope. He’s shut his mouth — at least publicly — about the team’s decision to waste most of his peak years with a rebuild.

111 thoughts on “#9 – Freddie Freeman”

  1. Perhaps people interpret the poll question that if Donaldson is the biggest bat we acquire, is that acceptable? I think that’s why there are so many people responding “yes”. I would agree with that. They don’t need to also add Bryce Harper.

    The bottom three in the NL in DRS were Washington (-55), New York (-77), and Philly (-146). Atlanta was third in the NL with 59. That helped our offense in the 54 games we played against them, and that hurt them all the entire season. Philly has so far upgraded their defense. I don’t think New York or Washington have.

  2. Reposting from old thread.

    No one knows what the Braves’ actual budget is.

    It’s all speculation. Remember that I said they have at least $20 million left for the off-season alone. They’re actually negotiating with two free agents asking for at least $20 mil/year. Neither, if signed, would be the end of Atlanta’s off-season plans.

    They have flexibility because of the deep farm full of pitching prospects. I also believe they’re keeping some money tucked away for the deadline. AA will never say what the budget is, but i don’t think it’s anything lower than expected. I just think he won’t spend it all just to spend it.

  3. And I agree that if anyone does not know, it’s David O’Brien.

    I think hearing about who we’re connected to here at the Winter Meetings will probably tell us something.

  4. To me, the poll question is an easy “No.” What’s the definition of a big bat, anyway? Is it J.T. Realmuto? I think so. I also think it’s Mitch Haniger and even Michael Brantley. It’s anybody with decent pop and a good OBP. The definition of not a big bat is Markakis. He is lucky to luck into 10 home runs.

    I think most would agree that the Braves need to add another good (read “big”) bat that’s going to bring a little more pop while also bringing a decent OBP.

    Yeah, there’s zero chance I would ever entertain starting the season with Duvall in the starting lineup. Forget that.

  5. As much dirt as we kick on DOB, I’d like us to kick a bit more on Mark Bowman. I don’t know why Bowman presumes to know anything about who the Braves are talking to in free agency. His rebuttal of the Braves having contact with Dallas Keuchel kind of pisses me off… for reasons. Like, tone it down a bit? Why presume the front office would give him the whole picture?

    So, yeah, I do think the Braves are floating possibilities on a 3-year contract with Brantley or the possibility of Keuchel with McCann behind the plate. I think that makes sense for this team.

  6. Dallas Keuchel isn’t my first choice for a potential Braves TOR addition, but I just think he could make sense from a clubhouse perspective as a veteran with loads of playoff experience and is just 30. If the price is right, I’m saying, then it makes sense.

    Another point of consideration is that I think AA lets some stuff leak to the media. Like, I could see this man using the media as leverage to get a player like Brantley to respond. The Braves have room for one more big acquisition. After that, all other offers are no longer on the table. Just sayin’…

  7. Baines getting in is now going to be one of those WTF moments that comes up in every single close case in the future. “If Baines got in, why not..____?” And it’s a fair question. Murph > Baines. Reading between the lines it seems like Baines got in because he’s a nice guy, ambassador for the game, etc. – so, again… Murph.

  8. I interpreted the poll question as “Insofar as it is acceptable that the Braves only acquire one big bat, does Josh Donaldson fit the bill?”

    Obviously, yes. Bats don’t come much bigger.

  9. On the “acceptable one big bat” question:

    I didn’t understand it exactly. But one part of not “acceptable,” is that this is a 1 year move. We need at least one well above average major league outfielder. This is the single biggest hole on the whole team. If that happens and nothing else happens, then it is a fair offseason. If nothing happens there, then it is at best a flawed offseason.

    Also, in the outfield, our next 2 up include a defensive specialist who will be most valuable in center and another fringy centerfielder who is at least 2 full years off.

  10. We need at least one well above average major league outfielder. This is the single biggest hole on the whole team. If that happens and nothing else happens, then it is a fair offseason. If nothing happens there, then it is at best a flawed offseason.

    Quoted for truth.

    AA seems confident that we’ll at least end up with a bargain bin option like Markakis or CarGo if he can’t do better. IMO that would qualify as a flawed offseason.

  11. Murph > Baines
    Andruw > Baines
    McGriff > Baines

    But the answer is not to put every team’s fringy candidates into the Hall. It was to keep Baines out to avoid the inconsistency. Even Baines was surprised. This is probably the first time I can remember in my young life where the writers stuck a guy in the Hall, and the only acceptable response is, “Well, that guy really isn’t in the Hall.” If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If a guy enters the Hall and even he is surprised, is he really a HoFer? This is simply one induction where people need to avoid throwing everybody else in the Hall with him.

    Josh Reddick has a higher WAR 7-year peak than Baines, for crying out loud.

  12. Agreed.

    I think one thing that’s hard to know is exactly how much a bad-glove outfielder would hurt us specifically. We’ve got a very good center fielder, but he can’t hit and is presumably being shopped, and we’ve got a very very young pitching staff, many of whom give up a fair number of fly balls, and defense is critical for a team that’s trying to build around pitching the way we are.

    I keep wanting us to go get someone from San Diego. They’ve got too many guys.

  13. I interpreted the poll question as “Insofar as it is acceptable that the Braves only acquire one big bat, does Josh Donaldson fit the bill?”

    Obviously, yes. Bats don’t come much bigger.

    Yes, unless your opinion of the offseason, like probably a lot of fans of about 20 teams in the league is “Harper or Machado or bust.”

    If the Marlins had two identical offers from Atlanta and another team outside the division, yes, they’re going to send Realmuto away so as to not face him 50 extra times. But if the difference in the offers was someone the equivalent of a B-/B prospect, then I’m throwing that in and not looking back.

  14. Concerning the Braves remaining funds, this was written by Bowman on Dec 7:

    “Braves chairman Terry McGuirk has said the club has the financial resources necessary to make at least one more significant investment this offseason. Team officials have said the payroll has increased. Specific figures have not been revealed, but it’s believed Anthopoulos still has at least $30 million left to spend.”

    I would trust Bowman over D.O.B. concerning payroll. I still don’t think Bowman should around fully rebutting reports of who the Braves are targeting — it looks really childish considering this front office would never tell him anything unless they wanted it reported.

  15. Love the Free Man. I hope he gets to play his entire career with the Braves. I foresee him being the right man in the wrong place for our opponents in the many competitive years to come.

  16. @19 I don’t get that unless AA has agreed to trade for or sign someone. Even weirder is the O’s putting Meisinger on waivers when they only have 38 on their 40-man….. Guess we haven’t heard the whole stories yet…..

  17. Sounds like the Dodgers are targeting Kluber, offering their top OF prospect and possibly taking on Kipnis. I wonder if we’d be willing to take Kipnis along with Kluber in exchange for Teheran, Pache, and a pitching prospect. It would save Cleveland about 20 million dollars and would give us a serviceable left-handed bench bat. Too much money?

  18. I just can’t see Cleveland taking Teheran back since Kluber only makes $15M per year as it is, and they’re trying to clear payroll and get younger. They clearly want to get a near major league-ready outfielder, which is why we seem to only be hearing Ender connected to Cleveland. But do you want to go from a 3 WAR Ender with no one to replace him to even a 5 WAR — if we’re lucky — Kluber when we probably have 3-4 starters who aren’t guaranteed a spot in the rotation that might be able to be league average? You almost have to send 3 prospects for Kluber for the deal to work for us.

  19. Castellanos had an improvement in the defensive metrics last year, for what that’s worth, and he would be playing in a much smaller RF at STP. If we are truly so good at positioning our outfielders that Old Man Nick Markakis could win a GG, what could we do with a young whipper snapper like Castellanos?

    Plus, let’s just be honest, are we really going to go into the season without a Greek right fielder named Nick? We just don’t do crazy stuff like that.

  20. The thing to remember about peanut is that he’s state media. My take is that they Braves didn’t like Boras seeding these rumors through Heyman, so they had peanut squash it.

  21. Castellanos is making around $7M with two more arb years remaining, IIRC. The cost to get him would be significantly less than, say, Realmuto, I would think.

  22. I’m going to have a weak moment with everyone here. I will miss Nick Markakis. I told my wife that Nick wasn’t coming back, but — don’t worry! — we might trade for another Greek named Nick. I showed her some pictures of Castelllanos, and she wasn’t that impressed. So I showed her pictures of Kakes to remind her how ugly he is, and no, he’s great. And I was remembering that he was a very steady presence on our team, that if we were to put Acuna in CF, someone like Haniger in RF, that he would definitely be welcomed in LF. And if we can’t make it happen, then he’ll be missed.

    Love you, Nick.

  23. In absolutely no sense of the word is Harold Baines a HOFer. This is a joke. Neither is Lee Smith for that matter. I’ve seen some guys that don’t belong get in, like Tony Perez. But Baines’ selection sets the bar so much lower its astonishing. Dale Murphy has 8 more career WAR and is a 2 time MVP and no one is more respected in the game, and he can’t get in. Andruw has 25! more career WAR, 10 Gold Gloves, was a key part of a dynasty, and is probably the greatest defensive centerfielder ever, while still being a positive contributor with the bat. And he can barely stay on the ballot. This is a disgrace to the Hall. And a slap in the face to many, many much better players. Just go ahead and rename it to the Hall of the Very Good. And if you played most of your career for a large market team, you can get in by just being merely above average for a few years.

  24. Why do we keep focusing on acquiring a RFer? Can’t Acuna handle RF? I would think a poor outfielder would be a better fit in left field.

  25. mikemc @ 36,

    A high school football coach berated his team after a loss. He said “I can’t figure out if the worst problem on this team is apathy or ignorance. Rock, what do you think”

    So, Rock, the “great scholar” replied, “Coach, I don’t know and I don’t care.”

    Thus apathy and ignorance have caused the conversation to say “rightfielder” rather than “corner outfielder.”

    By the way, Zips shows Acuna in right and our next best on roster outfielder, Adam Duvall, in left.

  26. Winter Meetings
    the facade of mutual greetings
    and how is his arm?
    heavens no, we have zero designs on your farm.

  27. @42: It wasn’t always a joke. There were, at the outset, genuine omissions that the Veteran’s Committee could correct. But then they caught up, at which point mission creep sets in. What’s the point of having a Committee to Correct Injustice if it can’t find any injustices to correct? What we need is a Unworthy Hall Removal Committee. Just think of all the column-inches that can be spilled interviewing the descendants of the Hall-Ejected…

  28. coop, I did miss Urban. I think I’ve said it before, but I reject the common narrative on Urban. I think he legitimately had heart problems, he quit in 2008, and somehow he was back the next day. Jeremy Foley, the AD, probably convinced him to come back or at least said that you can’t just leave him in the lurch like that. So he came back, then he quit again. I just don’t have a big problem with that. He won two NCs at Florida with angels and demons, just like plenty of schools and coaches before him. What’s to hate?

    But unrealistic Florida fans can’t grasp that not every elite coach wants to coach at Florida forever, so they’ve trashed him. So he’s become this person that’s “fun to hate” at OSU, and when the Zach Smith thing came up, it was easy to pile on. I don’t understand for a second why he would put up with that much garbage from Zach Smith, a crappy positions coach. But he did, for whatever reasons. It might just be the “win at all costs” attitude that so many coaches have, and maybe he just does a worse job at covering it up. Maybe he’s arrogant and thinks he can talk his way out of it.

    I was convinced that he was fired behind closed doors during the investigation this year. There was that weird report about Ryan Day being made head coach in waiting on a Sunday night, and then Monday morning it was retracted by the university. What the heck? I was convinced they wanted to fire Urban with cause to not pay him his remainder. And Urban probably told them that he would drag Gene Smith through the mud since Smith knew about it, so he would retire at the end of the year, and the remainder still wouldn’t be owed. So everyone got what they wanted when he retired.

    Urban’s a really good coach who’s not a very good person. I probably say the same about Saban and many, many others. But he built Florida up big, and he still left the system with plenty of talent had Will Muschamp — who has now proven at two programs to not be a very good coach, mind you — couldn’t coach.

    Keep in mind that Urban’s assistants are doing just as good as their respective schools as the vaunted Saban assistants. Urban’s good at more than just winning.

  29. If we were to acquire Realmuto, Markakis’ bat would slide nicely into the 5 or 6 hole. I saw some chatter on twitter about Newcomb being included in a Realmuto trade. I also saw where the Marlins are starting to actually try to make a trade happen.

  30. Rob, re your penultimate paragraph, Urban Meyer is a very good, even elite, coach. As a Dawg, I never learned to love him. I was raised not to judge folks, but I have always made an exception for your ex.

    My guilty pleasure is that I’ve always liked Spurrier. He still cracks me up. I never felt that for Urban.

  31. @46 That is the very reason we, the many, are dismissive of Markakis returning. He only makes sense if another good bat is added to hit clean up. That really only makes sense if we’re upgrading another position such as catcher… seems far more sensible to find a good corner out fielder, though.

    But don’t misunderstand me: at this point, Realmuto is like the perfect second addition behind Donaldson.

  32. @44, I agree with you that it doesn’t have to be a joke. But they haven’t caught up. The Veterans Committee has almost always been more about electing the buddies of the guys on the committee.

    In the meantime, far more deserving candidates are still out there — like Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker and Mike Mussina. And, frankly, even Kenny Lofton and Kevin Brown and Bobby Grich. (I’ll bang the drum louder for Andruw Jones than for Murph, but that’s partly generational.)

  33. Adding my voice to the Baines consternation. The only impressive stat that jumps out to me is his 22-years played. But in that timeframe he only placed in the top 10 in MVP voting twice (#9 and #10 placing). He was an All-Star only five times. A steady player, sure. A very good player. But not one of the all-time greats.

    But at least I can start making plans to head to Cooperstown when Murph gets inducted.

  34. Are there not now 15-20 guys that have an argument to be in the HoF now because of Baines? Why would they even open that can of worms?

  35. Being a successful NCAA coach at the highest levels precludes being a good person. You can be good and maybe Mark Richt. Maybe.

  36. Harold Baines. He had two separate careers. I thought we weren’t electing PED users into the Hall? This selection maybe more than it appears.

  37. @56–more like 50-75 guys have an argument they were as good as Baines. Edgar was probably going in anyway, but let’s hope folks don’t start arguing for player X on the ground that “well, he was better than Baines.”

  38. Phillies have Altherr, Herrera, and Cutch in their outfield. They could totally make room for Bryce.

  39. Of course it won’t remove Philly from pursuing Harper. Our division rivals can all spend $200 million to improve their teams.

  40. @49 …classic the both of you.

    @47…

    Meyer slinks away from these parts in disgrace, neanderthals excepted, his professional standing in tatters. He and Joe Paterno both knew nothing so they said. What makes Meyer the greater criminal – ‘My wife never told me about any of this, all these years’- of course she did, over and over, which he was forced to eventually admit.

    His initial lie then contained a double treachery. By saying what he did up front the only conclusion outsiders could come to was his wife must have been the silencer. Classy.

    We must be more careful on these pages to call a spade a spade and not be seduced by won/loss records which become meaningless overnight. At least hopefully they do.

    Bobby Cox was another such whose failings were common knowledge in Atlanta around that time. It took us much longer for that to be discussed here.

  41. @67

    Perfect example. Both he and his pal Cargo bought new black Ferraris at the time of their ascent. My guess is now, gone man gone…like his legs. But he did look good back then, so did the car!

  42. I hope AA is playing Chess while everyone else is playing Checkers. Seems to me like the “smart money” rings up a good deal early and let’s the sheep follow with “stupid money”. When the “stupid money” has played out then the “smart money” gets a second chance, if anything’s left. Donaldson seems like “smart money”. Cutch seems like “stupid money”, mainly because the contract was too high. And the Mets and Yankees flailing around for trades is just amusing.

  43. Rob writing so well about Saban, Meyer et al and their limitations as rounded human beings makes me want to say this. Just watch them on the sideline, to heck with the game. Their overwhelming narcissism is overwhelming. They are obsessed with the macho image they try so hard to project they eventually force you to look away.

    Now I remember another from these parts, Woody Hayes. Arriving from England I couldn’t believe that a SCHOOL coach could get away with what he did. The posturing, the temper. Again, look at me.

    We must give Woody one thing though. He sure know how to end it all with a bang. No way was he going to allow their skinny speedster to go any further past him on the side line. Wham Bang, he knocked him on his ass.

    Totally memorable moment to end his last game but there were a few of us who felt one act had been left out. He should have died, there and then, heroically, on the field. Talk about attention getting. The statue that would surely follow would have been plated in Etruscan copper, worthy of such an idiotic warrior. The alumni would have coughed up, betcha’.

  44. Blazon, it’s big business! :) The SCHOOL coaches sometimes make more money than the pros.

    What sports do you watch? I think I’m seeing that you’re a baseball and soccer fan. Any other sports?

  45. The highest paid “public employee” in most states is a college football coach. People are morons.

  46. I was really happy for Atlanta United fans. One could argue they have the most passionate core of fans relative to its sport of any Atlanta sports team.

  47. To be clear, I will miss Kakes too. I don’t want him back to play right field, but you pretty much know he’ll give you all he has.

    Blazon, dogs and lizards don’t have to hate each other, but they must act like they do. I think it’s the law.

    Sam, Mark was just too nice to compete with the Sabans and Meyers of the world. Thankfully UGA now has an SOB all its own.

  48. The highest paid “public employee” in most states is a college football coach. People are morons.

    They’re also the most effective fundraiser.

  49. @76–except in Indiana, Kentucky, and North Carolina. I haven’t actually checked, but I’m pretty sure the basketball coaches at IU, UK, and UNC make more than their gridiron counterparts.
    But of course the point remains.

  50. @80–it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I remember a study that showed that big time athletics pretty much only raises money for more athletics. It rarely benefits the academic program.

    And big time athletics corrupts the institution in many ways.

  51. I never said who they were raising funds for!

    I would like to see those studies as I just can’t imagine how there’s not some sort of money generated for academies. Is it proportionate? Obviously not. And is there a non-quantifiable connection between sports being good and raising the popularity of the institution? Does that raise the bar on both admission and quality of student? Is admission up when the puppies are playing good ball?

  52. Alex Jackson on the 40-man just seems to be a misuse of resources. I really don’t care if that guy backs up someone somewhere else.

  53. A good sports program can help with undergraduate admissions.
    As to fundraising, though, most donors to athletic departments are not those who would otherwise give to academics. And there are at least some potential big givers who give to athletics in lieu of academics.
    As I said, though, the biggest problem is how the athletic department at big time schools can warp and corrupt the entire institution—as when the football or basketball coach is more powerful than the president.

  54. Athletic programs fund raise for academics in the same way stadiums build economic growth for cities. They don’t.

  55. Alabama has almost doubled in size over the last 15 years, they’ve made tremendous improvements to their academic facilities, and education quality has gone up by most standards. Not sure how the institution has been corrupted.

    I don’t pretend that there are no negatives to a strong college sports program, but I think the positives generally outweigh the negatives. If you don’t like football, it’s easy to find the negatives. I don’t like soccer, so I’m good at finding the faults with it or hockey.

  56. Alabama isn’t really the best comparison, though. There are a LOT of other Division 1 schools who have invested millions of dollars in their athletic programs — but they don’t win championships all the time, so the return on investment isn’t really there. At most Division 1 schools, the athletic programs are not profit centers.

  57. Some misconceptions on college athletics.

    The University of Georgia had complete financial separation beginning in the late 20’s. The impetus was the financing of Sanford Stadium. In the 80’s in the wake of the Jan Kemp scandal (and i know a lot about that because I tutored at Special Services and got to know a lot of the tutor supervisors), the University forced in effect a liquidation and transfer to the University.

    No, athletic programs are not a “profit center.” The main reason why not is Title IX. At Georgia, football usually makes money on a cash flow basis and, counting contributed money, more than pulls its weight. Men’s basketball frequently generates enough revenue to pay for itself and does so over the long term. Women’s basketball sometimes comes close to paying for itself. Women’s gymnastics did pay for itself at the height of the Yoculan era and I don’t know if that is still true.

    Every other sport is a money loser. The 85 scholarships in football have to be offset by 85 additional scholarships for women athletes.

    Many of the athletic scholarships at UGA are permanently endowed. At least 30 football and 5 or more in men’s and women’s basketball and gymnastics.

    The athletic budget at UGA makes a contribution to academics each year, usually in the 2 million range. This started (at lower numbers) in the late 1980’s. it absolutely is not much on an 80 million operating budget, but it is something and it is consistent.

  58. Athletics are a lot more successful at UGA than at Austin Peay.

    I think that’s the key point. Athletics work at some schools — and probably not even the ones you expect — and they don’t at many. I don’t think that means Georgia is not justified in having sports; it’s the schools where a) the HC is powerful than the Prez and b) they’re bleeding money.

    But it’s the responsibility of the individual school. The summary of the book that Jonathan linked to highlighted that Michigan was losing money when that book was written. Well, stop losing money, Michigan. I don’t know, though, if Austin Peay’s or Michigan’s poor financial performance in sports offsets the fact that other schools like Georgia are able to be productive with it.

  59. @94

    Not totally. The amount of money Austin Peay gets from playing a UGA pays for most of their athletic department for the year.

    When ETSU got rid of football, enrollment shrank and they lost money because of it. They brought it back.

  60. And the cost of being in that 25% of schools who “make money” on athletics is creating a culture where the athletics department runs the entire school. It’s how you get Paterno and Meyer, much less the absurd and obscene cult of personality that develops to excuse such men of their horrors and crimes.

  61. @ 101,

    The biggest surprise was the rating of Alec Jackson, defensively. That encouraged me greatly, because Kiley has definitely seen Jackson a lot. Actually, by McDongenHagen’s method, Peanut looks like an idiot for saying “not a prospect.”

    Next biggest is that DESPITE the individual 20 – 80 rankings, how low Weigel was. Comparing his 20 – 80 to the other pitchers made me think he was at least one tier or maybe two tiers too low.

  62. Rio Ruiz was let go because he will be out of options and isn’t in the plans next year. Jackson just was added this season and isn’t a lost cause yet.

  63. Ironically, this spirited dialogue will prove a museum piece a decade from now when, inexorably, the game as we know it will be well on its way to have been litigated out of business and properly so.

    As that happens the big football schools will have a decision to make and once the penny has dropped it won’t take them long . Reform or go under. Leave the NCAA. Change the game first before the lawyers change it for you. Despatch the egomaniacs and their obscene salaries, their assistants and their salaries some of whom hopefully by this time may even be in prison – right now, even, it’s close. Sweepingly replace all budgets. That’ll do to start with. End up with a SCHOOL again, imagine that.

  64. Miami might very well just not trade him. They probably feel like they presented themselves in a distressed situation when they traded Stanton, Ozuna, and Yelich. That they had to trade those guys, and with ultimately limited trade partners, that small list of teams just had to be patient and continue to offer 80 cents on the dollar. If Miami can convince these teams that they won’t trade him like how the Braves didn’t trade Freeman or Teheran during their rebuild, maybe they can make Realmuto’s value get to what they feel is more reflective of his worth. But if not, then they better just not trade him. If I were them, I’d keep asking for Albies or Bellinger until they get a legitimate haul for him.

  65. So blazon, you think the sport of football as a whole is going to end up being reduced to a shell of its physicality? Personally, I think the game can go much, much farther towards a less physical game and still be a great sport to watch. I’m not sure it’ll ever get to the point where it’s considered too watered down.

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