This continues my series of the ten best Braves players in franchise history. If you missed #10 on my list, follow the link below.
#9 Freddie Freeman
I could be salty about the way Freeman sold his soul to the devil for a few extra bucks to leave the organization he consistently reiterated that he wanted to stay with for his entire career. I could do that and leave him off this list entirely, but I won’t. Understandably, Freeman’s departure still doesn’t sit right with me, and every time I see him in Dodger Blue, I get queasy, but at some point, everyone will appreciate what he did for this organization.
Why Freeman belongs on this list is more than what’s on the back of his baseball card. He came up in the shadow of Jason Heyward, who some claimed would be the next Hank Aaron in Atlanta. In a way, that might have helped Freddie. Instead of dealing with the expectations, he was able to quietly go about his business without too much outside pressure. However, it didn’t take long for the players, coaches, and fans to realize who the mantle would eventually be passed to when Chipper Jones decided to retire.
When that day came in 2012, the Braves were still a competitive team, but it would be just a couple of years later that they would blow the entire team up and enter a complete rebuild. The only piece that stayed? Fredrick Freeman.
Freeman would spend the next couple of seasons watching his teams finish in last place with no hope of competing, but you wouldn’t have known based on the way he showed up to the ballpark every day and competed. That kind of leadership is what helped the Braves to four straight division titles and an eventual World Series, and it’s been passed down to the current members of the clubhouse today.
Now, let’s get to the stats. In 12 years with the Braves, Freeman owned an .893 OPS. He blasted 271 home runs and hit just a hair below .300. Six different times did he finish in the top 10 in the NL MVP race, including his last four seasons in a Braves uniform, and he won the award in 2020 in which he hit .341 with a 1.102 OPS. As far as consistency, the Braves couldn’t have asked for any better. Freeman never had an OPS under .840 from 2013-2021, and he only played in less than 147 games twice in his entire career.
It boils my blood just thinking about Freeman in another uniform, but when it’s all said and done, you can’t talk about Braves history without mentioning the greatest first baseman ever to don a tomahawk across his chest.
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