It’s easy to take Freddie Freeman for granted.
For instance, when you finish second in the Rookie of the Year voting, you might expect that would generate some excitement — unfortunately, when the person you finished second to is your teammate, then the excitement becomes a little tempered.
Or, when you reel off a 20-game hitting streak in your rookie year, you’d think people would take note — if they weren’t already taking note of a 33-game hitting streak by the team’s highest-paid position player.
Such is life for Freddie Freeman, the Braves’ perpetually overshadowed first sacker. Between coming up in September of Jason Heyward’s rookie year, to finishing second in the RoY to Craig Kimbrel in 2011, to concluding his 20-game hit streak well shy of Dan Uggla’s 33, he’s picked some bad times to have significant accomplishments. After all, how often do you have a slash of .282/.346/.448, 116 OPS+, and not be the best rookie on your own team?
Regardless, Atlanta has a very bright future at the first base position, even if that future looks like Buzz McCallister. At 23, Freeman already has two seasons of above average offense at first base. Depending on the defensive metrics you use, he’s also an above average defender around the bag. (UZR hates him, but Defensive Runs Saved thinks he’s average or perhaps slightly above average. Plus, the 6’5″ lefty passes the eyeball test, especially on throws in the dirt.)
Looking forward, a few things are plain to see. He is young, cheap, and pretty good right now, and the 23-year old will almost certainly improve. He could be Jack Clark or Eddie Murray, or he could be Greg Luzinski or Jason Thompson. (All four of those guys are on his “similar batters through 22” list on baseball-reference — Murray is the number one comparison on his list. Not bad.)
But still, regardless of how his career ultimately turns out, he’s a guy that helps the Braves win games right now. That’s pretty good for a 23 year old first baseman.