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You don’t high-five or fist-bump Freddie Freeman.
Freeman gives hugs.
When the voting for the 2013 All-Star team started, players around the clubhouse wore shirts that read, “Hugs for Votes #VoteFreddie.” Craig Kimbrel, being the only Braves player to be originally picked for the NL All-Star team said to Mark Bowman of MLB.com, “I want a teammate that I can give hugs to out there,” referring, of course, to getting Freeman voted onto the roster.
A healthy Freeman is necessary for the 2014 team. He was benched in 2012 with recurring vision problems and in 2013 with an injured thumb.
On defense, Freeman amazes spectators with his splits, managing to snag an off-target throw and get the out at first. He was nominated for a Gold Glove in 2012 and continued to bring his dependable defense in 2013 with a .993 fielding percentage.
He had a career-high .319 batting average in 2013. Freeman’s offensive improvement reminds us that he is still a young player and can continue getting even better. He tied his career best, 23 home runs, last season.
There is something to be said for a player who misses his first All-Star game with a minor injury and handles it with grace and composure. Freeman told the Associated Press, “I've got to look out for the best interests of this team, so I've got to be available to play in the second half.”
That is a leader.
It is his strong statistics over multiple seasons and veteran leadership that is clearly exhibited on the field and in the clubhouse that make a healthy Freddie Freeman the most important player for the 2014 Atlanta Braves.