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Braves are Fangraphs’ Number 1 at First Base

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It’s Freddie by a lot

League Championship - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game Four Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Last years’ MVP Freddie Freeman is far and away the best first baseman in baseball, according to Fangraphs’ Dan Szymborski. Freeman is taking steps forward toward the Hall Of Fame, while the rest of his brethren are taking a step back. Freddie has lapped the field by 1.2 WAR over Matt Olson and Oakland.

Per Szymborski:

At some positions, the debate over who reigns supreme is a contentious one. At first base? Not so much. Since Freddie Freeman’s explosion into the ranks of elite first basemen in 2013, he’s fallen below the four-win season mark only once (in 2015), and even then, it took a wrist injury that plagued him in the second half.

Freeman’s 2020 got off to a rough start with a symptomatic case of COVID-19, but he showed few lingering effects on the field after his recovery, setting career-bests in all three of the triple-slash stats. Summed up, Freeman’s 3.3 WAR was second among all position players, and those aforementioned career peaks resulted in a spicy little wRC+ of 187.

Inside the division, it’s the Braves first, Pete Alonso and the Mets 5th, Rhys Hoskins and the Phillies 8th, Jesus Aguilar and the Marlins 15th, and the Nationals needing to acquire Josh Bell to get to 17th. The gap between first and the division is nearly 2 WAR.

The Fangraphs 2021 expectations for Freddie are in line with his pre-2020 numbers. The slash line of .295/.396/.538 is impressive but still a good step back from 2020. He already is in his own level at first base, but the 2020 line of .341/.462/.640 would take him further away from the Pete Alonsos and Josh Bells toward players like Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth. If we could split the difference, Freeman might be poised for another run at Most Valuable Player in 2021.