Freddie Freeman is truly one of the game’s top five players right now. We remember not long ago, Jason Heyward was considered to be the future gem cornerstone in the Atlanta organization. The guy in which the Braves would build their entire team around. We also remember that time in 2014 when the Braves drew a hard line in the sand, and we paused.
There’s a great read on ESPN right now about how Freeman is the new Chipper Jones of Atlanta.
In February of that year, the Braves signed Freeman to an eight-year, $135 million contract that marked the biggest financial commitment in club history. The spending spree didn’t quite extend to Heyward, who opted for a two-year deal before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in November.
It was at that time that the Braves made Freddie Freeman the clear cornerstone guy that they were going to build a generation around and open the new park that just may have been tailored for Freeman’s very swing.
The Braves made their pivotal decision when they committed to Freeman over his best friend in the game. Looking back at the decision through the numbers, they made the right call.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, Heyward has accumulated 15.1 wins above replacement to Freeman’s 14.7 since the start of the 2014 season. But about half of Heyward’s value is attributed to his defensive contributions in right field. Offensively, it’s no contest.
Since the start of 2014, Freeman boasts a .911 OPS, seventh among big leaguers with 1,000 or more plate appearances. The six players ahead of him: Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper, David Ortiz and Miguel Cabrera.
Over that same span, Heyward ranks 170th among MLB hitters with a .721 OPS. He’s right behind Norichika Aoki and Kevin Kiermaier and tied with Gregory Polanco.
Freddie Freeman is currently hitting .336 with 12 home runs, 20 RBI, and a 1.200 OPS on the nose. He’s stolen four bases and scored 27 runs.
We haven’t written nearly enough about the guy, but that’s going to change now.