Freddie Freeman: Can Young Braves Slugger Stay on His 140-Plus RBI Pace?
Freeman's 26 RBI this early in the season equates to 145 RBI over the full season, as ESPN.com indicates.
But is Freeman's torrid early-season pace actually attainable in the long run?
The short answer: probably not, and that's not knocking Freeman.
Freeman is a fantastic young player who is actually an even better defender than hitter. Freeman is a future star in this league, but players just don't hit 140 RBI, even the best.
I think Freeman will break triple digits in the department, but it's unrealistic for his current pace of 145 RBI to hold up all year.
The last player to hit 145 RBI in a season was Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard in 2008 with 146, and he's pretty good.
Players go through slumps, they get hurt, and it's near-impossible to maintain the high level of production for 162 games.
The 22-year-old Freeman is a streaky player and has already overcame an early-season slump. Twelve of his 26 RBI came in a four-day stretch between April 17 to April 20. Through his first nine games, Freeman had just one RBI.
Freeman will have plenty of opportunities all 2012 season long to drive in runs with runners on base. After a disastrous 0-4 start, the Braves have won 18 of 25 games and suddenly lead the entire league in runs scored (5.58 per game).
How many RBI for Freeman in 2012?
Braves leadoff hitter Michael Bourn always seems to be on base. Bourn is hitting .331 this year and can get into scoring position in a flash with his base-stealing abilities. The rest of the lineup is hitting fairly well and Freeman has seen time in the No. 3 slot of the order.
Recently the Braves have had a shortage of 100-RBI seasons from players. The offense used to be the Achilles' heel for the Braves, but now, hitting is the strength of the club.
The last time a Brave had at least 100 RBI in a season was in 2007, when Jeff Francoeur and Chipper Jones each barely cleared the plateau.
Freeman has some other advantages working for him, such as his reluctance to take a walk and his ability to put the ball in play.
In addition, Freeman has only five walks so far in the season; Freeman will put the ball in play. Entering play May 7, Freeman led the league in sacrifice flies (five), capitalizing on RBI chances even without having a base hit.
In short, Freeman will have a strong second season, but due to the length of the season, it is unrealistic to think he will hit 140 RBI.
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