Atlanta Braves: The stats that show why Freddie Freeman should return

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 18: Freddie Freeman #5 of the Atlanta Braves reacts after flying out to Mookie Betts (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Dodgersduring the fifth inning in Game Seven of the National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field on October 18, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 18: Freddie Freeman #5 of the Atlanta Braves reacts after flying out to Mookie Betts (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Dodgersduring the fifth inning in Game Seven of the National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field on October 18, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 3
Next
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman
Jun 30, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) hits an RBI single against the New York Mets during the fourth inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

In 2021, Freeman saw 2,688 pitches. In only two prior seasons did he see more pitches. But in 2021, he was able to put 495 balls in play, which set a career-high for the former MVP. So, he did not see an extraordinary amount of pitches in relation to prior seasons, and still he was able to put bat on ball on more pitches than in any other year of his MLB tenure.

So, he’s not a big strikeout guy, right? That’s what a stat like that would suggest.

Correct … but there’s also another kicker to it.

Freeman’s strikeout percentage hit a career-low in 2019 when he posted an 18.4% K-rate. But then in 2020, he lowered it even more to a 14.1% K-rate, and then followed that up in a full 2021 season by posting a 15.4% K-rate.

Since Freeman has hit age 30, his strikeouts have regressed, which signifies his age is not messing with his bat speed and/or ability to catch up to pitches.

2020 also featured a career-high in walk rate for Freddie at 17.2%. Up until then, the highest walk rate he had posted in a season was 12.8% in 2016. He followed that performance up in 2021 with a more grounded walk rate that fit well with his overall career rate by posting a 12.2%.

Less strikeouts and the same amount of walks, pretty much. That is the trend.

What about hard contact and power?

Freeman barreled 57 pitches in 2021, according to Statcast. That was the second-highest number of barrels for him in a season with 58 in 2019 being the highest.

His max exit velocity hit 13.6 in 2021 as well, clocking in as the second-highest of his career.

Average exit velocity is where it gets interesting because even at age 31 and 32 in 2020 and 2021, Freddie posted his top two average exit velocities with a 92.4 in 2020 and 91.4 this past season.

The same deal happened with his hard hit percentage. In 2020, he went for a 54.2% hard hit percentage while in 2021, he went for a 46.1. Both setting career highs.

Not only is Freeman still making contact and getting on base, but the balls he’s putting in play are being hit hard with extra oomph behind them. The fact that his contact and hard hit numbers are progressing as he ages is amazing unto itself.