Fantasy baseball fans have been patiently waiting for Atlanta Braves 1B Freddie Freeman to breakout for years now. He has all the potential in the world, but he hasn’t quite put it all together for a full season.
Freeman signed a massive eight-year, $135 million contract at the beginning of the month, and for the first time in his career, he won’t have to worry about money. He can finally just play baseball.
Freeman finished with a staggering .316/.396/.501/ slash line in 2013. He also drove in a career-high 103 runs and his 23 homers tied his career mark. Freeman has linebacker-size (6-5, 225 pounds) and a very compact swing through the strike zone. Big Freddie is only 24 years old, and even though he has played 471 professional games, the power-hitter has yet to hit his prime. It is only a matter of time until he starts to level out his swing and average 30-plus homers per season.
Freeman has also limited his strikeouts in each of the past three seasons. He went from 142 strikeouts in 2011, to 129 strikeouts in 2012, then all the way down to 121 strikeouts in 2013. He has become a much more patient hitter and has been able to lay off those high fastballs for the first time in his life.
Nagging injuries have plagued the first baseman in recent seasons, and unfortunately, he has played in just 147 games in two straight seasons. He seems to suffer a couple nagging injuries each season and it ends up hurting his fantasy value down the stretch. Fortunately, these injuries haven’t been too serious and won’t linger longterm, so Freeman will enter the 2014 season completely healthy.
All signs are pointing towards Freeman taking that next step forward this season and this should be the year that he finally eclipses the 30-homer plateau. If you can grab Freeman in the middle rounds as your starting first basemen, don’t think twice about it.
2014 Projection: .307 Batting Average, 31 HRs, 92 Runs Scored, 105 RBIs