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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: FREDDIE FREEMAN 1B ATLANTA BRAVES

The first base position in fantasy baseball might be the single most important spot on your make believe team for a number of reasons.  While one can make the argument that a five-tool outfielder carries more value, the increasing dearth of power in today's game makes getting a hold of a prime home run hitter who can bat for average and drive in runs of chief importance.  It is in the land of the slugging first baseman where these monster players are found and it is why we continue to suggest having your starting first baseman by the end of Round 2, so crucial is getting it right there.  With your league mates gorging on the Anthony Rizzo's, Paul Goldschmidt's, and Jose Abreu's of the world, getting your hands on a prime first baseman for fantasy baseball is a must so that you can keep up with the rest of the teams in your league.  This brings us to the subject of today's DRAFT BUST which centers on Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman.  Freeman makes the bust list this year after being a sleeper not that long ago.  Not all of the blame for this designation falls on the player but Freeman is not without responsibility either.  Let's get right to it. 

Still just 26 years old as he enters the 2016 season, Freeman is the one piece the Braves have held onto and plan to build around.  A former second round pick of the team, Freeman debuted at the very young age of 21.  After that cup of coffee run, Freeman became an everyday first baseman for the team in 2011 when he hinted at stardom by smacking 21 home runs and hitting .282 at the age of 22.  All of a sudden Freeman was the new must have fantasy baseball first baseman who would turn into a 30-home run monster before too long.  While Freeman has performed solidly since then, we are not only still waiting for 30 home runs, we also are still waiting for even 25.  After hitting 23 home runs both in 2012 and 2013, Freeman has actually gotten worse in that category, coming in at just 18 each of the last two years.  The drop in 2014 and 2015 no doubt can partly be blamed on the fact the Braves have given Freeman next to no protection in the batting order as they team was completely torn apart in anticipation of opening a new ballpark.  With no one to protect him and supply more hittable pitches to drive, Freeman has been on the border of 12-team missed league daily usage the last two seasons with his 18 home runs per.  When it comes to your fantasy baseball first baseman, the baseline should be at LEAST 25 home runs and 90 RBI.  While the lineup issue is no doubt part of the problem, Freeman also takes some blame in that maybe he is not a classic power hitter after all.  It could very well be that Freeman's power ceiling is 20-25 home runs with good protection and nothing more which knocks his value down some.  And with the Braves having maybe even a worse lineup for 2016, things should only get worse before they maybe improve. 

That brings us to the next problem in the RBI department which is another issue.  While Freeman drove in an excellent 94 and 109 batters in the 2012 and 2013 seasons respectively, the last two years have been a whole lot less then that which again coincides with the lack of protection in the lineup.  With fewer quality hitters in front of him to drive in, Freeman collected only 78 and a putrid 66 RBI the last two years.  That barely cuts it even at a UTIL or CI spot.  Combine that with the drop in home runs and Freeman doesn't have the numbers to be your daily fantasy baseball first baseman this season. 

As far as the rest of the package is concerned, Freeman is a decent .285 career hitter who offsets a very high K Rate (120 or more strikeouts in four out of his five full seasons) with decent walk totals.  We are not talking about a .300 hitter here though and with no one to protect him in the order, Freeman is more likely to hit the .276 he posted last season then anywhere near .290.  Not good. 

When you put things all together, Freddie Freeman is a guy you ideally want to avoid for 2016 fantasy baseball.  His name brand is still somewhat significant as he carries another year or two of ceiling left which means you won't get much of a discount on him despite the slippage in his numbers.  With the counting statistics and batting average all plummeting, Freeman is best left for your CI or UTIL spot if you can get him there at a decent rate.  Otherwise move on and check back in again for 2017.

2016 PROJECTION:  .279 19 HR 74 RBI 77 R 3 SB 


 

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