There has always been a buzz about Freddie Freeman. Whether it was his first tweet — “I’m baaaaaaaack!!!” on Jan. 22, 2013, or earning his National League MVP— something is a buzz about the Atlanta Braves first baseman. Growing up through the Braves farm system, Freeman has been a constant professional, and now the entire baseball world is noticing.
Buzz Is the word
No one knows who or when it started, but as a baby-faced rookie Frederick Charles Freeman resembled a Buzz McCalister from the film Home Alone. Google Buzz and Freddie Freeman look alike. The actor’s real name is Devin Ratray, and you’ve seen him in other movies such as Nebraska and Hustlers.
Freeman wasn’t even a year old when the movie premiered on November 16, 1990. During those days, the Braves were on the cusp of beginning their 14 consecutive divisional championship runs. He made his debut on September 1, 2010. He went on to play 20 games that season before completing a strong rookie campaign where he finished second in the National League rookie of the year race to then-teammate Craig Kimbrel. The Atlanta first baseman tallied 21 home runs, 76 RBI, 67 runs scored. He batted .282 with a .448 slugging percentage in 2011.
Showing Signs of Progression
In his first three full MLB seasons, Freeman nearly mirrored his stats, a sign of consistency and big things to come. Following his rookie campaign, he managed 23 home runs, 94 RBI, and 64 walks, while batting .259 and a .796 OPS in 147 games. He followed that up with 23 homers, 109 RBI, 66 walks, a then-career-high 176 hits, and 89 runs scored. Those marks were good enough to earn him his first All-star selection. He also finished fifth in the MVP voting.
In 2014 he played in all 162 games, earning a career-high 708 plate appearances. He accounted for 18 home runs, 78 RBI, 43 doubles, 175 hits, and 93 runs scored. It earned him his second straight All-star selection. He hit 18 home runs in 2015 but in 118 games. Then, Freeman hit 34 home runs and 91 RBI, scoring 102 runs with 178 hits and 43 doubles. Those numbers were good enough to earn him sixth-place voting in the NL MVP race.
After hitting 28 home runs and 71 RBI in 2017, the Braves first baseman really broke out the next three seasons. This helped him earned his first gold glove in 2018, his first Silver Slugger honor in 2019, back-to-back All-star selections, and finishing in the top eight in the MVP race in consecutive years.
Even a Hero Needs Saving
Oddly enough, as Freeman was starting to heat up and earn league-wide respect, the city of Atlanta was hit by a massive ice storm in early 2016. Thousands of motorists were trapped on Atlanta’s frozen interstates that spread throughout the Southeast. Freeman tweeted he was among those stuck in the five-plus hour gridlock on the Interstate because of snow. That’s when Chipper Jones went to work, hopping on his four-wheeler he found Freeman and brought him to his house. Chipper had some fun tweeting that Freeman “hugged him all the way home.” Freeman returned home 11 hours later and tweeted it was “a moment I’ll never forget.”
Just like his buddy did in 1999, Freeman won the NL MVP, albeit in a season where the world is battling a national pandemic of COVID-19. In fact, the first baseman battled through the disease and prayed, “please don’t take me.” Freeman played all 60 games, batting .341 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs, leading the majors in hitting 23 doubles and scoring 51 runs. It was almost a full circle transition for the two superstars as Freeman wore a tattered Braves T-shirt under his uniform that was passed down from him from Jones.
The Face of the Franchise
Freeman is the face of the Braves franchise, and was hinted at when Chipper retired in 2012. Jones and Freeman had a brother kind of relationship. Slowly but surely, Freeman grew into that leadership role. The very next season, the Braves won the NL East division title.
Freeman’s leadership as a quiet, fun-loving teammate and friend at first base speaks for itself. Since the lefty came into the league the Braves have finished second four times, third once, fourth once, and last once (2016). Atlanta has been to the playoffs six times in his 10-year tenure and lost in the opening round every year except last season.
Why is there buzz around Freeman? Take a look at his accolades. He’s a four-time All-star, a gold glove winner, and a 2-time Silver Slugger. Oh, and the reigning NL MVP. He also recently took home the 2020 NL Hank Aaron Award.
The future is bright for the Braves and Freeman, but only time will tell. He is signed through 2021 and will become a free agent in 2022. Until that time, enjoy all the buzz.
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