FreddieFree loves raking at Braves’ new yard

 

How few games have the Braves played at home so far this season? Glad you asked.

Freddie Freeman has hit four homers in the Braves’ first nine games at new SunTrust Park, including this one off the Mets’ Matt Harvey. (AP photo)

They’ve played so few games that Freddie Freeman and other Braves don’t even qualify for most home-game statistical leader categories that STATS and other statistical services provide, because they’ve had too few home plate appearances per team game. This is glaring only because if they did qualify, Freeman’s almost absurdly strong home statistics would lead the world (or at least MLB).

After home games Monday and Tuesday the Braves have played nine games at SunTrust Park, which is two fewer home games than any other major league team entering Wednesday.

The official MLB home-game OPS leader is the Yankees’ man-beast Aaron Judge at 1.563, which is far ahead of No. 2, Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon (1.391). Judge has hit .386 with nine homers (10 xtra-base hits) and a .386 OBP and 1.045 slugging percentage in 13 games at Yankee Stadium.

Freddie Freeman, who homered again Tuesday, has hit .481 (13-for-27) with four homers (eight extra-base hits), a .622 OBP and a 1.074 slugging percentage in nine games at SunTrust Park.

Not to be, ahem, judgy, but those stats are even more astounding than those being produced by the Yankees slugger so far in the Bronx. Yes, I think Freeman has found just what he’d hoped to find at SunTrust – a hitter-friendly ballpark – after seeing so many balls he hit die on the warning track in the spacious power alleys at Turner Field.

Not that Turner Field exactly shackled the Braves’ first baseman. But it says something about Freeman that, despite playing home games in a pitcher-friendly ballpark before this season, he’s been statistically the best hitter in the majors over the past 365 days.

If you don’t believe it consider the statistics: Over the past 365 days, Freeman leads the majors (minimum 200 plate appearances) in OPS (1.048) ahead of Mike Trout (1.030) and Joey Votto (1.030). They’re the only trio as high as 1.000.

In that span Freeman is also the MLB leader (min. 200 PAs) in slugging percentage (.629) and is ninth in batting average (.320) and third in OBP (.430) behind Trout (.451) and Votto (.437).

Freeman leads the majors with 92 extra-base hits in the past 365 days and ranks fifth in home runs (41) behind only Nelson Cruz (46), Khris Davis (46), Brian Dozier (43) and Edwin Encarnacion (43). Freeman is tied for eighth in walks (94) in that span and 16th in strikeouts (161). Freeman’s 18 intentional walks in that span rank second in the majors behind Bryce Harper (21) and ahead of Miguel Cabrera (15), Trout (14) and Paul Goldschmidt (14).

Freeman is tied with four other players for 17th in RBIs in that span with 100, same as the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, who has 40 homers, and Anthony Rizzo (30 homers). Wil Myers (30 homers) also has exactly 100 RBIs in that span, while Manny Machado and Todd Frazier have 36 homers apiece and 96 and 90 RBIs, respectively.

This season, Freeman had one of the best Aprils ever produced by an Atlanta Brave and two games into May he’s ranked second in the majors this season in OPS (1.302) between a pair of Nationals, the rejuvenated Ryan Zimmerman (1.326) and Harper (1.270). Judge (1.219) is the only American League player among the top five in OPS, and Judge leads the majors in home runs this season with 12.

Alas, not only did Freeman finish behind Zimmerman for NL Player of the Month in April, but the Braves slugger will also have to contend with Zimmerman and Thames in voting for the NL All-Star team’s starting first baseman, not to mention guys like Votto (nine homers, 22 RBIs, .938 OPS), Myers (nine homers 21 RBIs, .590 slugging), Mark Reynolds (.968 OPS, .606 slugging, eight homers, 23 RBIs) and Goldschmidt (.969 OPS),

Talk about a stacked position. If they picked that team today there’s no way you could go with fewer than three first basemen; Freeman, Zimmerman and Thames would have to be on the team. And look at the list of those who’d be left off if they only took those three.

Freeman’s .811 slugging percentage and .491 OBP are both ranked second in the majors, behind one of the Nationals in each category: Zimmerman (.871) in slugging percentage and Harper (.513) in OBP. Freeman’s .378 batting average is fifth in the majors, but unfortunately for the Braves and other NL East teams outside of D.C. the top two averages belong to Nationals, Zimmerman (.419) and Harper (.389).

It should be noted, the Nationals’ Daniel Murphy isn’t far off the pace with a .343 average and .966 OPS. Not surprising, given that trio as well as the starting pitchers that Washington has, that the Nationals have the best record (17-9) in the National League and second-best in the majors behind  the Astros (18-9). Speaking of Houston, Braves fans can probably take some solace in remembering not long ago the Astros were a last-place rebuilding team.

As far as homers, Freeman is tied with Khris Davis for fourth in the majors with 10, and Freeman’s 16 RBIs the fewest among the 13 hitters with at least eight homers (but Davis only has 17 RBIs).

And if you’re wondering how Freeman stacks up among lefty batters, this season he leads the majors with a 1.302 OPS, ahead of Harper (1.270) and Thames (1.207). Freeman also leads major league lefties in slugging percentage (.811), 50 points above the next-highest (Thames’ .761; Harper is third at .758).

Freeman’s .491 OBP is second among lefties to Harper’s .513, and they are also 1-2 in batting average among lefties with Harper at .389 and Freeman at .378.

Freeman’s 10 homers ranks second among left-handed hitters behind Thames (11 homers), while Freeman’s 17 strikeouts is tied for 46th among lefty hitters.

• I’ll close with this one off Mark Lanegan‘s new album “Gargoyle” that comes out Friday.

“NOCTURNE” by Mark Lanegan

Mark Lanegan

Red lights, X-ray vision
A lonely drug is in my veins
Blood stained indecision
Holiness is burned away

Midnight, midnight calling
Color me insane

Still-life with roses in a vase
A thorn is in your hand
Unsent letters in a box
Frozen where you stand

Do you miss me, miss me, darling?
God knows, I miss you
Somewhere else, two trains colliding
That’s what the sickness brought me to

Dead right
All night
When you feel the serpent strike
Nocturne

Blacklight, house of mirrors
The heavens open up and bleed
Face down, drifting backwards
Lonely river to the sea

Midnight, midnight calling
Coloring my dreams

Anchor chained around your neck
Christ is in your hands
Whispering behind your back
Falling where you stand

Do you miss me, miss me, darling?
God knows I’m missing you
I can see two cars colliding
That’s what the sickness brought me to

Do you miss me, miss me, darling?
Do you know I’m missing you
Can’t you see the world is ending
That’s what this damage took me to

Dead right
All night
When you feel the spider bite
Nocturne
Ooo, nocturne

Do you miss me, miss me, darling?
God knows I’m missing you
I can see two worlds colliding
That’s what the sickness brought me to

Dead right
All night
When you feel the serpent strike
Nocturne
Ooo, nocturne
Nocturne

 

 


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