Freddie Freeman’s slow start for the Braves isn’t completely of his own doing.
Freeman’s power numbers are a bit misleading as to the rest of his statistical prowess. Overall, the 2020 NL MVP is hitting under the Mendoza line, with a .143 batting average and only five hits in 35 at-bats. A .268 on-base percentage leaves much to be desired, as well.
Yet, much of Freeman’s sluggish tendencies to start the 2021 campaign has much to do with bad luck. For those who assume Freeman should make his own luck, the advanced statistics suggest that he’s been trying, but to no avail.
Per Baseball Reference, “Freddie Freeman has put 26 balls in play and has 1 hit from them, a .038 BABIP.”
That’s a low rate for just about any player, let alone one of Freeman’s caliber. When we dig a bit deeper, the statistics get even more puzzling.
Freddie Freeman is making solid contact, but to no avail
Per Statcast, Freeman has an 84 percent barrel rate on balls he hits in play. So, on the 26 baseballs he’s put in play this season, a large majority of those have found the barrel, only to eventually make their way into an opposing player’s glove. His four home runs — only one off the league lead of five, proves he’s making solid contact at a fairly consistent rate. Unfortunately for the Braves, opposing defenses are either playing Freeman perfectly, or he’s merely hitting the ball right to them.
In the end, these stats suggest that Freeman will right himself at some point in the near future, if not the Braves’ series against the Marlins this week. It’s rare for a player of his caliber to have such a significant dropoff year over year, especially while still making solid contact. From the outside looking in, there doesn’t appear to be a significant hole in his swing, or anything that would cause a season-long slump.
Fear not, Braves fans. The Freeman of old will be back before you know it.