There’s little doubt that the (now tied for third place!) Atlanta Braves have a legitimate superstar in first baseman Freddie Freeman, and through the first 35 games of the 2017 season, he’s putting up the numbers to prove it.
As tweeted Tuesday morning by Buster Olney and confirmed through my memory of seventh-grade math, Freeman is currently on pace to hit 60 home runs this season – something that has happened just eight times in the history of baseball and only twice outside the steroid era. He’s tied with two other players for the league lead with 13 homers through 35 games, and Freeman has yet to miss a start this season.
This would nearly double the Braves first baseman’s single-season personal home run record of 34, set last season. We’re still six games from the quarter pole of the season and Freeman’s already 37 percent of the way to achieving a new personal best for homers in a year.
In addition to the blistering home run pace, Freeman projects to record personal bests in hits (203) and runs (148). Of course, there’s the much-discussed problem of Freeman doing most of his damage with few baserunners because the top of the batting order has struggled to get on base, and that’s why he’s only pacing toward 106 runs batted in for a season in which he’d hit 60 home runs. For comparison, in Babe Ruth’s 60-homer season in 1927, he had 165 RBIs.
Of course, the baseball season is a long one, and even if Freeman stays healthy and plays all 162 games, it’s likely he’ll hit a slump at some point that will knock him slightly off course. These numbers are fun to throw out in mid-May, and while it’s unlikely he’ll finish the season with 60 home runs, it’s a good way to show just how good Freeman has been so far this year.
Simply put, Freeman is appointment viewing when he’s at the plate. As ESPN Stats and Info pointed out Monday night, the Braves have faced 10 different opponents in the first 35 games of the season and Freeman has homered against all of them. If you get up to go to the bathroom or get a drink while Freeman bats, you risk missing something incredible.
While Braves fans wait for shortstop Dansby Swanson to come around and the other prospects continue to grow in the minors, Freeman is providing all the pop in the middle of the lineup. If he can keep up with his current pace at the plate, the Braves first baseman will have a very good case for the league’s Most Valuable Player at the end of the season.Follow @Sean_Breslin