Key Stats: Freddie Freeman would have been the Rookie of the Year last season were it not for his teammate being the best closer in all of baseball. Freeman played in 157 games last year and given his youth injuries are unlikely to crop up again this season. He was inconsistent at times which is often a negative word, but in fantasy baseball inconsistent can also mean that he carries teams for stretches of time. That was the case last July when Freeman was the 13th best player in that month and had a .433 OBP. That said his September was not nearly as good. That could have been caused by a number of factors including hitting the rookie wall, the pressure of avoiding a historic collapse, and the lineup around him fading.
Skeptics Say: Freeman doesn’t hit lefties very well. The difference in average against lefties was about 50 points last season. Situational lefties will get their work in against him late in games, so hopefully he isn’t bunched in the lineup with another lefty such as Jason Heyward so teams have to pick their spots of when they have guys face Freeman.
Freeman also doesn’t have the best plate discipline. It is hardly unusual for a 21-year-old, but it’s worth noting that he had the 21st best strikeout to walk rate among first basemen last season.
Peer Comparison: Ryan Howard is going after Freeman at both ESPN and Mock Draft Central drafts. Looking at the numbers last season, Freeman was only better in two categories and one of those categories was steals. That category was insignificant when you consider what the reasons for drafting these two players are (power/runs/RBI). That said it all goes into the formula at the end of the day, but the formula for Yahoo’s player rater last season still said that Freeman had a ways to go before he caught Howard. Freeman was ranked 128th while Howard was ranked 57th.
That gap is too big to assume that Freeman should go before Howard. The reason that it is happening though is because Howard is old and regressing while Freeman is new and has much more upside. The gap will certainly get closer in 2012. There’s no question that Howard will be a middle of the order hitter for the Phillies. That question exists with Freeman. Howard has hit at least 30 home runs and driven in 100 runs for six straight seasons. Freeman has never done it although there’s certainly a good chance he will do it some day. That’s why Freeman is being ranked in the top 90 in the preseason, but Howard will still be the better and safer player.
Lineup Outlook: Where Freeman hits next season will be a critical factor in where he should be drafted. Between him, Dan Uggla, Chipper Jones, Heyward, and Brian McCann they have five players that could hit in the middle of the order. Usually the default play for a manager is to put the veterans in a high place first. That said, once things shake out and Chipper goes on the DL, Freeman could end up hitting third. This would allow them to go Michael Bourn (lefty), Martin Prado (righty), Freeman (lefty), Uggla (righty), McCann (lefty). Of course Fredi Gonzalez could also choose to flip-flop McCann and Freeman. Or perhaps more likely, Heyward stays healthy and he hits third. This lineup was 22nd in runs last year, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them jump ten to twelve spots this year.
What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #21 First Baseman; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #14 First Baseman & #106 Overall; RotoChamp: #78 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #10 First Baseman & #102.6 Overall
Projection: Freeman will build on year one with a solid encore season and more consistency from month to month.
.283 AVG 88 R 25 HR 89 RBI 3 SB .358 OBP .829 OPS