New Kid on the Block: Why Freddie Freeman Belongs Among Fantasy's Best Sluggers

Eric CampbellContributor IFebruary 19, 2017

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 20:  Freddie Freeman #5 of the Atlanta Braves in action during the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 20, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Braves defeated the Diamondbacks 9-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If you drafted Freddie Freeman to your fantasy squad this year, then you have to be pleased with the production you've gotten from the 6'5", 225-pound, 22-year-old lefty slugger so far. 

Freeman started this season off painfully slow for his fantasy owners, striking out 14 times in the first nine games with no home runs. Since April 18th, however, Freeman has caught on fire. He's belted six homers and driven in 23 runs, raising his batting average to a stellar .291, with an even more impressive .848 OPS. So, if you managed to wait until the middle rounds of your draft to pick up Freeman this year, chances are that  that was the last time you'll be able to wait that long to draft the young phenom.

Freeman leads all first basemen in RBI with 26 (this despite an 0-for-3 day yesterday without a sacrifice). He's tied for sixth in home runs at his position and is already making vast improvements upon his breakout year in 2011.

Freeman already has more homers than he did through all of April and May of last year. Add in the fact that the kid is a part of one of the most potent offenses in the majors—and that he won't even turn 23 until the end of the season—and there is no reason to believe that Freeman won't continue to develop into one of the best sluggers in baseball.

Now, generally speaking, the sample size for Freeman's career is very small, with only one full season in the big leagues to compare his numbers to. Still, looking at Freeman's 2011 campaign shows that, when the weather gets warmer, so does his bat. He hit 13 of his 21 home runs in June, July and August, and he drove in 47 of his 76 RBI during those months. So, considering those stats, it's safe to say that Freeman is getting a very good jump on the 2012 season.

Despite Freeman's hot start, he doesn't come without flaws. Like most sluggers in the game, he isn't afraid to strikeout at the plate. Freeman fanned 142 times last year and is on pace to at least match that number this year. Freeman is also drawing less walks than he did in 2011, which could be slightly alarming. But with a .530 slugging percentage to start the year, it may not be a bad thing that Freeman feels the need to swing his bat more.

The future is bright for Freddie Freeman (and his fantasy owners). He's making large strides in the early part of his very young career. I repeat, the kid is just 22 years old. When the young stars of Major League Baseball are talked about, Freeman seems to get forgotten...maybe because his stats make him look like a seasoned veteran. But that's just not the case.

Freeman saw only 24 at-bats in 2010. That number skyrocketed to 571 in 2011. Now, the sky is the limit for the Braves' first baseman. Freeman has a very long career ahead to solidify himself as one of the best sluggers in the game.