For years, the Atlanta Braves‘ power has come in dynamic duos. In the 1950s and 1960s, Atlanta had Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron. In the 1980s, the bulk of the offense was provided Bob Horner and Dale Murphy.
This week’s extensions of right fielder Jason Heyward and first baseman Freddie Freeman have helped solidify a lineup and a franchise that has been competing at a high level in winning several division titles since 1991. The tradition of dynamic duos keeps going on.
In an era of baseball when clubs let their best players test the free agent markets, the Braves have done something different in that they have secured the services of two of their best players for at least the next few years.
Both Freeman and Heyward have put up consistent numbers when healthy. Freeman hit .319 and clubbed 23 home runs. He also added 109 runs batted in. Freeman finished fifth in NL MVP voting. He has been a model of consistency since arriving in Atlanta. In the last three seasons, he has averaged 22 homers. Heyward burst onto the baseball scene in 2010 when he hit .277 and swatted 18 home runs. For his efforts, he was named an All-Star at the age of 20.
The 24-year-old is coming off an injury-filled season. Last season, he hit .254 with 14 homers and 38 RBIs in a career-low 104 games. He had an appendectomy on April 22. His season was really hampered when he broke his jaw on Aug. 21 when he was hit by a pitch. By extending Heyward, the Braves have also avoided arbitration. He becomes a free agent in 2016.
As a new season dawns, Braves fans are hopeful that both Freeman and Heyward can keep the tradition of winning going for the next few seasons.