Frederick Charles Freeman
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 5", Weight 220 lb.
- High School El Modena High School
- Debut September 1, 2010
After making his major league debut in September of 2010 with the Atlanta Braves, Freeman was the Braves' starting first baseman on opening day on March 31, 2011. It was the third straight year that the Braves had put a rookie in their line-up on opening day, following Jordan Schafer in 2009 and Jason Heyward in 2010; the two were also making their major league debuts on the occasion, contrary to Freeman, and both hit home runs to start off their major league careers. In contrast, Freeman went hitless in three at-bats against the Washington Nationals' Livan Hernandez. However, he quickly settled into his starting role and was a key part of the Braves' offense as they kept pace within a few games of the Philadelphia Phillies and of first place in the NL East. He was named the National league's Rookie of the month for July, when he hit .362/.433/.600 in 27 games; he hit six homers and drove in 18 runs while scoring 17. He had his first multi-homer game on July 4th facing the Colorado Rockies at Turner Field. He finished the season with a batting line of .282/.346/.448 in 157 games, with 21 homers and 76 RBI, although he did not make the 2011 Topps All-Star Rookie Team, losing out to Mark Trumbo of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
In 2012, Freeman's batting average fell in comparison to his rookie season, although the rest of his numbers stood and he continued as the Braves' regular first baseman. He played 147 games, hitting .259 but his OBP was at .340 and his slugging percentage at .456, so his OPS+ was almost unchanged 113 compared to 116 the previous season, He hit 23 homers and drove in 93 runs as the Braves won one of two wild card berths in the National League. He went 3 for 4 with a double and a walk as Atlanta's best hitter in its loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the Wild Card Game. Back as the starter at first base for the Braves in 2013, he suffered the first injury of his career in early April, a strained oblique muscle which forced him to go on the disabled list. He was not happy at the turn of events, complaining that the injury was only "a two-day thing" and that he would now need to miss 15 games because of his team's decision. However, in spite of the time missed, he was the Braves' most consistent hitter during the first half, and while he was not originally picked for the All-Star team, he won the "Final Man Vote" against four other players to be added to the squad. What made it more remarkable is that he beat out rookie Yasiel Puig, who had had a sensational debut and had been the most talked-about player in the majors for the month that preceded the vote, while Freeman had produced steadily but quietly. He was hitting .307 at the time of his selection, and although he had hit only 9 homers, he had 18 doubles, 49 runs scored and 37 RBI, all three totals putting him on a pace to set new personal bests. He celebrated by driving in four runs in a 6-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds on the day of his election, July 11th. However, he suffered a jammed thumb in the last game before the break, on July 13th, and had to give way to teammate Brian McCann on the National League squad. He finished the year with an excellent batting line of .319/.396/.501 in 147 games, good for an OPS+ of 144. He had 23 homers and 109 RBIs, then went 5 for 16 with a double and 4 runs scored as the Braves lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. He was 5th in voting for the 2013 NL MVP behind Andrew McCutchen, Paul Goldschmidt, Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter.
Freeman was eligible for arbitration for the first time before the 2014 season but the Braves preempted a decision by inking him to the largest deal in franchise history on February 5th, an eight-year contract worth $135 million. He played all 162 games for the Braves that season, hitting .288 with 43 doubles and 18 homers; he scored 93 runs and drove in 78 and had an OPS+ of 137. he was named to the All-Star team for the second straight year. His consecutive games played streak reached 234 games before he was taken out of the game of June 17, 2015 against the Boston Red Sox with a sprained wrist. he had hurt the wrist a few days earlier and had tried to play through the pain. He was having another very solid season at the plate, with a .303 average, 12 homers, and 41 RBIs in his first 65 games. The initial prognosis was that he would be back quickly, but that turned out to be wrong, as the injury kept him out until July 25th. More injury trouble followed two weeks later, as he returned to the DL on August 4th, this time with a strained oblique muscle. He was back on August 19th and played regularly until the end of the season, but the injuries limited him to 118 games, during which he hit .276 with 18 homers and 66 RBIs.
2016 turned out to be a very frustrating season for the Braves and Freeman, who by now were in full rebuilding mode and losing games by the bushel-load as a result. Freddie was one of a tiny number of star players left on the team and he started the year slowly, as after homering on opening day, he did not connect for a long ball again until April 27th, a situation made more visible by the fact nobody else on the team was hitting for power either. His batting average had fallen as low as .177 on April 24th before he began to turn things around to some extent. He had a rare highlight on June 15th when he became the first player in the majors to hit for the cycle that season, as the Braves beat the Cincinnati Reds, 9-8, in 13 innings. Mark Kotsay had been the last Braves player to accomplish the rare feat, back in 2008. He continued to hit well over the following games, as the Braves had their best stretch of the season. On June 19th, he matched a career-high with four hits in a 6-0 win over the New York Mets that completed a three-game sweep at Citi Field. The Braves played noticeably better over the second half, and Freddie was their offensive leader, putting together a 30-game hitting streak from August 24-September 28, the longest in the majors that season. That left him three games shy of the Atlanta record set by Dan Uggla in 2011; it was also part of a streak of 42 games in which he had reached base safely. Not surprisingly, he was named the NL Player of the Month for September on the strength of a .367 average, 7 homers and 25 RBIs. He finished the season at .302 with 43 doubles and 34 homers, 102 runs and 91 RBIs, excellent numbers in light of his slow start.
While Freeman was born and grew up in California, he decided to suit up for Team Canada at the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He explained that he wanted to do so in tribute to his late mother, who was born and grew up in Ontario, but passed away from cancer when Freddie was only 10. At the start of the 2017 season, he was leading the National League in home runs with 14 when on May 17th, he was hit by a pitch from Aaron Loup of the Toronto Blue Jays and suffered a broken left wrist, putting him out of action for two months. He was also hitting .341 with a league-leading OPS of 1.209 in 37 games at the time of the injury. By the time he began rehabbing in late June, however, he was asked to work out at third base, as the player acquired to replace him in his absence, Matt Adams, was hitting extremely well and the Braves wanted to have both he and Freddie in their regular line-up. He had not played third base since high school, but said "I'm 100 percent go on it. My mindset is coming back as a third baseman." He was activated on July 4th and started at third base that day.
- 3-time NL All-Star (2013, 2014 & 2018)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 5 (2011-2013, 2016 & 2017)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2016)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (2013)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (2016)
- Bob Nightengale: "Freddie Freeman finally enjoying winning ride with Braves", USA Today, September 9, 2018.