The Atlanta Braves 2013 lineup could shape up to be one of the best offensive squads in all of MLB, even without Chipper Jones. The addition of B.J. and Justin Upton to the outfield along with Jason Heyward, and the hope that both Dan Uggla and Brian McCann will snap out of whatever offensive doldrums they were in last year, could give any opposing pitcher a case of the night sweats.
When you take those five hitters (already composing more than half the lineup) and then add in first baseman Freddie Freeman and his Club of Smashing +5, it just becomes close to unfair, particularly if Freeman keeps heading in the same direction he has the past two seasons.
In his first two full seasons with the Braves, Freeman punished the baseball to the tune of 45 home runs and 171 RBI, not to mention 305 total hits.
Not bad for a 23-year-old kid.
To watch Freeman stride to the batters box can be an ominous sight indeed. He takes long strides with the brim of his helmet pulled down deep over his scruffy face. Even when he doesn’t want to crowd the plate, his 6’5, 225 lb frame just seems to swallow its entirety. He has a very old school stance with the bat held at shoulder level and one of the most naturally sweet swings you’ll see in baseball today.
When Freeman makes contact with the ball, you know it. The entire stadium knows it. Your Uncle Joe with his head buried in the refrigerator looking for the last deviled egg from the family reunion knows it. It’s an unmistakeable crack that makes every writer in the press box look up from their scorecards, even if it’s not a hit.
More importantly, Freeman has that thing–that indescribable thing–that ability to just sense that the game rests on his broad shoulders and for that not to faze him at all. He seems to thrive on the pressure situations and with Chipper gone, the Braves need someone to fill those shoes.
True, there are other hitters in Atlanta’s formidable lineup that have a flair for the dramatic, but Freddie just seems to be blossoming as that guy who manager Fredi Gonzalez wants at the plate when it’s all on the line. Freeman seems to have invoked the spirits of Sid Bream, Chris Chambliss and Bob Watson all at once, having that quiet cool to go alone with his noisy bat.
It would seem that in 2013, Freddie Freeman is primed to become the most dangerous (and possibly overlooked) batter in the Braves lineup. With a lot of attention going to Atlanta’s outfield trio and perennial All-Star McCann, Freeman will quietly become the face of destruction for opposing pitchers and their ERA.
Did I mention he can flash the leather over at first base as well?