The 2016 Season Preview has begun!

We’ll jump around to a few different topics, but let’s start with some analysis of some key Braves players.  The key to our offense this year is obviously Freddie Freeman.  Here are his annual WAR values up to today.

FreddieFreemanWARbyYear

In February of 2014, the Braves signed the then 24 year-old first baseman to an 8-year, $135 million dollar extension.  The $16.875 million annual average could end up being a bargain if Freddie keeps up the performance he showed a couple of years ago, but he has suffered some injuries.  He had some eye issues in 2014 (which appear to have been solved by a new prescription for contacts/glasses), a wrist injury which seemed to slow him through much of last year and a right oblique injury.  What were their effect?  In addition to the falloff visible above, the below chart describes the changes to his defense over his career.

FreddieFreemanFielding%

We see that his injuries have not caused him to make more errors, and his fielding percentage has been above league average since 2014.  What about his range?

FreddieFreemanRangeFactor

His, range seems to have been the factor most seriously affected by his injuries.  He went from hovering around league average in his first three years, to below league average in the last couple of years.  How about his offensive numbers?

FreddieFreemanPerAtBat

We can see that his offensive numbers (per at bat) have remained large unaffected.  His power numbers have remained the same (at about 20 HRs expected per year) for his career, his average has hovered around .300, and his walk numbers per at bat appear to be on an upswing as he matures as a hitter.

Conclusion: Absent any major injuries, Freeman should produce somewhere around a .300 average, about 20 homers and should improve his ability to get on base.  A key metric to see throughout the season will be his range factor.  If his range factor bounces back to where it was a couple of years ago, it will be evidence that his injury woes are truly behind him as he heads into his prime years.