Before every baseball season every fan likes to talk about how they know which player will breakout into a star. Most of the time, they are wrong, but there is always that once in a while when someone chooses the right player. Usually you are able to go back to look at that player's previous season(s) and see signs of why that breakout was prime to occur.
Now the player I am about to present to you isn't a prediction of my own, but after I researched him, I fully endorse this prediction. As most of you know, Buster Olney previously tweeted that he thinks Freddie Freeman will breakout next year. Being the spectacle fan I am, I went to see if I agreed.
I'd bet this guy is headed for a breakout season. baseball-reference.com/players/f/free… Fixed some eye issues midway through '12 and had a good 2nd half.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 2, 2013
Lets go into a less investigated stat that Freeman is very good at. A player's tendency to hit Line Drives is very important when looking into BABIP. This type of ball flight is obviously the best contact a player can have which has results of a league average line of .690/.684/.897. So consequently the more line drives you hit, the higher BABIP you should have.
Freeman last season had a BABIP of .295 with a LD% of 26% which is a league average BABIP with a very high LD% which should only plateau to about a 25% next year due to Freeman uncanny ability to put the barrel on the ball. Now Freeman being the player he is, we expect an above average BABIP of about .335 which is the BABIP of the similarly tooled Chase Headley over the last 5 seasons. Now if we give Freeman a BABIP of .335 next season with a more modest , but still very high LD% of 25%, We result in a player that can only be compared to a Joey Votto with less walk rate.
Now I'm not saying that Freddie Freeman will be the next Joey Votto, but there is a certain success in being able to hit HRs and LDs. The Top 5 Power Hitters in the last 5 years according to LD% in order is: Joey Votto, Todd Helton, Freddie Freeman (only 3 years), Andre Ethier, and Joe Mauer. Freeman is expected to continue hitting a lot of line drives and Homeruns because that is just the type of hitter he is. Which means Freeman could have peaks similar to Helton and Votto or a more practical peaks of Eithier or Mauer. My own prediction is a peak just a little below that of Joey Votto disregarding Votto's great BB rate which Freeman will most likely never have and considering the bandbox Votto plays in. Freeman has been evolving his Power over the last couple seasons and I believe the end of last season when his eyes were comfortable shows what we will have in Freeman which is a 30HR, 40 2B First baseman.
Freeman posted a walk rate of 10% last season which is above even his minor league average of 9.1%, so most would predict a drop to 9%, but I have a hypothesis that says he will have a rise in BB%. This is Freeman's BB% splits for 2012
We as Braves fans know that Freeman struggled with eye problems in the first half. His vision was blurry and being the young player he is, he took the wrong approach with his bad vision. Instead of watching more pitches due to lack of vision, he was more aggressive trying to hit pitches that he couldn't read resulting in the extremely low BB% in the first half of the season. As Freeman regained his vision, he showed his maturity and new vision to result in a BB% that we can expect next year at around 13%.
Two years ago as a high school baseball player, I was diagnosed with a eye disorder resulting in double vision, lesser depth perception, and blurriness. Prior to this disorder being controlled, that whole baseball season I didn't tell a coach, but tried to play through this disorder. I didn't start watching more pitches, instead I got aggressive because I thought it would make up for the fact that I couldn't see the pitches right. I just noticed that this was a uncanny resemblance.
Now throwing away my meaningless banter about about my life, throughout this article I have predicted a rise in Power, Walk Rate, and Average. A considerable rise in all 3 of those categories results in a completely new level of a player AKA a "Breakout". Freddie Freeman will indeed breakout in 2013.
- 2 of the top 3 players in LD% last year in the majors are 2 of our Outfield targets, Fowler and De Aza.
|Alejandro De Aza||26.10%|
*All stats acquired from Fangraphs
**No this isn't a response to the Fangraph's article on Freeman, it was just a coincidence.