In a year where many players set career highs in homers, Freddie Freeman nearly matched his total from the previous two seasons combined. He was healthy all year and had 83 extra-base hits and hit over .300 despite a 25 percent strikeout rate. The power spike came from two areas: a 41 percent flyball rate and 44 percent hard-contact rate, both career highs. While lefties and righties did not pose any issues for him in terms of average (.303 vs RHP; .301 vs LHP), 27 of his 34 home runs came against righties and his strikeout rate against southpaws was 28 percent versus 23 percent against righties. He has failed to drive in 100 runs for three consecutive seasons due to injury as well as questionable talent around him, but both showed signs of improvement in 2016.
Freeman finished 1-for-4 with a two-run home run in Saturday's 5-3 win over the Tigers. With a full count in the fourth, Freeman gave the Braves a 2-1 lead by taking a low, out-of-the-zone pitch from Jordan Zimmerman to center for a two-run home run. Freeman's home run -- his 34th on the year -- was his 83rd extra-base hit of 2016, bringing his total within just four of Chipper Jones' 1999 club-record.
Freeman went 2-for-3 with a walk, solo homer and three runs in Tuesday's game against Philadelphia. Freeman hit his career-high 33rd homer and stretched his career-best hitting streak to 29 games, leading the Braves to a come-back victory to open their final homestand at Turner Field (they'll be moving nine miles north to SunTrust Park for 2017). The first baseman has been the rare bright spot on the league's worst team, hitting .307/.404/.576 with 88 RBI and 99 runs in 573 at-bats. Despite his team's overall performance, Freeman is sprinting to the finish line, hitting .415 with a ridiculous 1.249 OPS in September.
Freeman went 4-for-5 with a double, a homer, three RBI and two runs against the Mets on Monday. The Braves, still short of 60 wins, are left playing spoiler at this point, and Freeman's monstrous game helped them spoil the Mets' momentum in this one. The star first baseman now has a 23-game hitting streak going, and his numbers during that streak are outstanding -- a .367 average with five homers, 22 RBI and 18 runs. Fantasy owners who worried that the Braves' terrible offense would hold Freeman back have mostly been proven wrong; no, he probably won't hit 100 RBI, but the lefty slugger now has 31 homers and 41 doubles to go with his .302 average, and he might just score 100 runs for the first time.
Freeman (personal) is back in the lineup Saturday against the Nationals. Freeman had been away from the team since Wednesday following the birth of his child, but he'll return to his usual spot at first base Saturday. The 27-year-old will bat third against the Nationals' Gio Gonzalez.
Freeman will return from his unofficial paternity leave Saturday, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports. Freeman was never placed on the paternity list thanks to expanded rosters, but he has been with his wife for the birth of their child since Wednesday. Expect him to return right to the heart of Atlanta's lineup on Saturday.