There’s Something Weird Happening with the Braves

There’s Something Weird Happening with the Braves

The Braves are in a good spot. A 6.5 game lead with 13 games to play is just about as good as anyone could’ve reasonably hoped for or expected back in March. What looked to be a difficult division back in the spring has turned into one of the easier divisions in baseball. Washington and Philadelphia have both fallen off considerably while the Mets crashed and burned a while ago.

When you combine those things with a 20-year-old superstar, a starting pitcher finally emerging as a front-line guy, and a 40-man roster bursting with talent, things are good.

And when things are good, we tend to ignore any issues that may be forming just beneath the surface. I mean if it’s not affecting the win/loss total, how much can it really matter? If the record is positive, then let’s be positive. Especially when you get a season out of nowhere like Atlanta is getting this year.

But for the 2018 Braves, there is an elephant in the room, so to speak. A thing that’s happening that no one is really talking about, I’m sure with the hopes that it’ll just go away.

But it hasn’t.

Something is wrong with Freddie Freeman.

So I mentioned this once, I think, on Twitter in mid-August and it got very little interaction, and even I didn’t really follow it up. I think everybody, including myself, waived it off as a blip on the radar and nothing more.

But here we are a month later, and not only has it not gone away, but it’s gotten worse.

If you don’t know, here are the numbers.

From the beginning of the season to June 15th, Freddie Freeman looked exactly like Freddie Freeman. The first 2 1/2 months of the season, he posted a 171 wRC+ and a .255 ISO. Those are elite, MVP-level numbers. Freddie Freeman numbers.

But since June 15th, the numbers look a lot different. Shockingly different, actually. From June 16th to yesterday’s game, September 16th, Freeman has posted a 101 wRC+ and a .136 ISO.

That…is a large drop off.

And this isn’t a week-long slump, or 2 weeks, or even a month. For almost 60% of the season, an MVP-level hitter has hit at a league average rate. Since June 15th, Freddie Freeman has been Ender Inciarte at the plate.

Now the team has weathered this a few ways. First and foremost, Ronald Acuña Jr has played like Mike Trout for most of that time. So that helps. But in addition to that, Johan Camargo has become a legitimate offensive weapon, Ozzie Albies has woken up a bit, Dansby Swanson has had a few hot stretches, Ender has had his typical 2nd half run, and Markakis and the catchers have had some big moments.

All that together has covered up a pretty staggering drop off by Atlanta’s best hitter (or maybe their second best hitter now). And as we mentioned in the opening, the team winning and being in 1st place has removed some of the need to talk about it or even acknowledge it. But it’s there.

Now, this is the part where I’m supposed to give you the why. We’ve done the effect, so now is typically the time for the cause. The only problem is I have no idea. I mean, I can tell you is average exit velocity before June 15th was 90 mph and his average exit velocity since then has been 88 mph. If you’re not familiar with Statcast numbers, 2 miles per hour difference is significant.

So that’s something. But even with that, I can’t give you a why. The obvious conclusion is his wrist is bothering him again, but he’s been asked, and the teams been asked and both parties say that’s not the case. Freddie says he feels fine.

A significant change in batted ball profile could theoretically, explain such a drop off in production but there hasn’t been a significant change. He’s hit a few less fly balls since June but he’s mostly replaced those with line-drives. There’s no way a player sees a 70 point drop in wRC+ because he’s hitting a few more line-drives.

You could look at the luck factor and there’s a little something there. His pre-June 15th BABIP was .375 while his post-June 15th BABIP is .326. That’s certainly enough to see some change but nothing like what we’ve seen. And when you consider a large portion of his production drop-off has been power related, specifically HRs, the BABIP argument gets even weaker. Freeman hit 15 HRs in the first 2 1/2 months of the year. In the last 3 months, he’s hit 6. And, obviously, HRs aren’t considered in BABIP.

The only other answer is it really is just a slump. A very long, extended slump. Baseball is random. Great hitters could be average hitters for 60% of seasons. It is possible, though I’ll let you decided how probable.

Whatever the reason, the bottom line is it’s happening. For the last 3 months, Freddie Freeman is producing at the lowest level of his entire career. The fact that the lowest level of his career is still league average is a testament to his talent level.

But Freddie Freeman is not a league average hitter. He’s not an above average hitter. He’s an elite hitter.

So the last 3 months have been weird.

11 Comments

Maybe him and neck should goto the power store and grab some. I’ve watched Freddie like everyone else and he’s really in the soup for 3 months, like you (really well) said. It didn’t bother me till he started striking out a lot. Some games he seemed like Dansby really in his head and guessing and the pitcher is two steps ahead of him. There haven’t been 20
Games in a row like that—-but 2 or 3 in a row—a few times now. When his wrist was hurt you would see him try and get the bat there and just be flustrated and throw the bat up like ‘it was newspaper’ (because of the wrist) —when he is missing so much—it makes me think it’s an eye issue—-total guess on my part—-just a feeling. It seems from watching him that his bat path is fine it’s just not as accurate. He seems like he is under water sometimes. But lately, he seems like he is seeing the ball batter. Hopefully by postseason with the lights and alittle break here and there he will be alright. Great read. Thanks.

I wonder if he’s pressing a bit? I won’t say Freddie’s not a power guy, but I really don’t feel like he’s the prototypical masher either- but in an offense starved for power, is he trying to be? Does that have him out of sorts? I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that the best season of his career was with an effective Matt Kemp hitting behind him for a decent part of it. And while the team has some good hitters on it, the only other consistent HR threat is Acuna.

King…I’ve been saying for AWHILE NOW…freaking Snitker needs to put Markakis (and his high OPS) in the leadoff spot…while dropping Acuna to the #4 spot of the order.

Sure, long term, (after AA addresses The Braves LACK OF POWER in the middle of the lineup after this season ends during The 2018 Free Agent Offseason AS WELL as during The Winter Meetings)…Acuna is better suited for the leadoff spot (in today’s game..there are simply VERY FEW ‘traditional’ leadoff hitters anymore). However in 2018, The Braves NEED some power in the middle of the order. Perhaps having Acuna protect Freddie…would help Freddie some.

Look at how CAREFUL MLB pitchers are pitching Acuna now (they are HELLA AFRAID of him hitting homers off of them). If he has runners on base in front of him…he’ll be able to knock in WAY MORE runs than he has hitting out of the leadoff spot.

Stephen….the problem is, come playoff time, our opponents are really going to EXPLOIT the fact that our #3-#4 hitters (Freddie Freeman AND Nick Markakis) HAVE NOT been much of a threat since August 1st to hit homers (a COMBINED 5 homers between the two in a COMBINED 340 at-bats). In September, in a 111 COMBINED at-bats, they have hit A COMBINED ONE HOMER, lol (by Freddie on September 5th)!

Since May 13th (when Freddie had 8 homers and Markakis had 7 homers)…in a COMBINED 855 at-bats (428 at-bats for Freddie, 427 for Markakis), they have hit a COMBINED 20 homers (13 for Freddie, 7 for Markakis).

20 homers in 855 at-bats..COMBINED from The Braves #3-#4 hitters since May 13th (that was 111 games ago). That SHIT isnt acceptable!

If it wasnt for Acuna 2nd half performance, Carmago’s emergence since early June..as well as Albies 1st half EXPLOSION…The Braves would have a Phillies-type offense!

7 homers from our cleanup hitters in 111 games since May 13th? I blame Snitker for not moving Markakis up to the leadoff spot…and dropping Acuna to the 4th spot (where his POWER would give him more RBI opportunities).

The people who cover The Braves…need to address this!

I’m SICK AND TIRED of hearing Chip Carey and Joe Simpson make BS EXCUSES when it comes to ‘the humidity’ at Sun Trust Field making it hard for Folty and Newcomb to pitch (you know, sweating a whole lot/cant ‘seemingly’ grip the ball properly).

I didnt see Tanner Roark have any problems pitching against us in the heat yesterday…or The Nationals ‘Cy Young’ tandem of Jeremy Hellickson and Jery Rodriguez on Saturday…when they basically SHUT The Braves down!

Let’s face it…our guys are SUCKING right now! Am I being a total A-HOLE ‘expecting’ Freddie to hit A FREAKING HOMER every now and then (he struck out again in the bottom of the 1st)? Looks like tonight is going to be one of those nights where we lose 9-2.

For the life of me, I CANNOT UNDERSTAND…Snitker’s ‘love affair’ with Luke Jackson! Luke Jackson FREAKING SUCKS! Yet he’s keeping him in the game for a 2nd inning of work…DESPITE The Braves scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the 6th to pull within 6-4.

They are into The Cardinals Bullpen right now with 3 innings left. The Cardinals just had A HELLA TOUGH 4 game series with The Dodgers! Their bullpen has been used A LOT.

So instead of using a Braves reliever who can keep the game close…FREAKING Snitker just leaves in Luke FREAKING Jackson in…with runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out.

A weak grounder now has runners on 1st and 3rd with 2 outs. Even if he gets Molina out…leaving in Jackson (whose thrown 31 pitches so far in 1 2/3rd innings pitched tonight) for the 7th inning…WAS NOT a smart move by Snitker!

I understand him bringing in Jackson when the score was 6-2 (why burn a good reliever IF The Braves offense was going to ‘take the rest of the night off’?). However it’s 6-4 and a WINNABLE game!

Luckily for The Braves…Jackson got Molina to pop out to Inciarte. However, Snitker has some sort of ‘love affair’ when it comes to using Luke Jackson….ESPECIALLY with a bullpen full of GOOD ARMS with the September call-ups.

9-4 Mets over The Phillies with 2 outs in the top of the 9th! Unless The Mets have a COMPLETE meltdown in the bottom of the 9th…The Braves Magic # will go down to 7 (even if we cant come back tonight).

I was hoping that The Braves could get that Magic # down to 4 by the time Philly comes to town (we’d only have to win 2 of those games to CLINCH The Division). Hopefully we’ll PITCH BETTER the next two days..along with some more help from The Mets, lol.

However, if we can get that Magic # down to 6 by Thursday…we can still clinch if we win 3 of those 4 games against Philly (more than possible).

Runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th….can Markakis join Freddie by FINALLY hitting a homer tonight? Great time to do it!

LOL!!!!!!!!!! Markakis ALMOST joined Freddie in the homer club tonight!

6-5 Cardinals now…but DAMN Freddie! Why didnt you FREAKING SCORE on that play! You have to try and score there! Bad throw from Munoz..whose made 2 bad plays already in the outfield!

Hopefully Camargo will come through with runners on 2nd and 3rd (2 outs).

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