The Atlanta Braves have seen many first basemen come through Turner Field in recent years and it appears that the club has finally found their first baseman of the future with Freddie Freeman. Despite some early growing pains, Freeman, 21, had a big rookie season and nearly won the NL Rookie Of The Year. Now, with an entire season under his belt, the former second round pick is looking to elevate his game to yet another level in 2012.
We take a look at his upcoming year after the jump...
2012 Outlook and Projections:
Bill James: .286/.350/.459, .350 wOBA, 20 HR, 82 RBI
ZiPS: .279/.344/.448, .346 wOBA, 21 HR, 83 RBI
There was a lot to like about Freeman in his rookie season, most notably the power he displayed over the summer months, although there are a few concerns. While his line drive percentage was strong (23%), he benefitted from a BABIP of .339 which should regress somewhat. As that does, his batting average will undoubtably drop somewhat. Freeman could also work to control the strike zone a bit better, although his BB% (8.3%) and K% (22.4%) were not horrible.
If there is an area of his game that definitely needs to improve, it would be his defense. Freeman posted an awful UZR of -12.6 and posted a DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) of exactly zero. His ability to scoop the ball will stick out to many fans, but he needs to work on extending his range around the bag.
Freeman will likely hit a few stretches of the dreaded sophomore slump, but 2012 should be a big season for the young first baseman assuming he continues to drive the ball well. There is a lot to like about the kid and he has a tremendous work ethic.
Eric Hinske 2012 Outlook and Projections:
James: .232/.319/.412, .316 wOBA, 8 HR, 28 RBI
ZiPS: .234/.316/.413, .317, 10 HR, 33 RBI
Hinske had a bit of a down year with the Braves in 2011 after a strong debut campaign with the club in 2010. He will have a similar role once again in 2012, being the primary left-handed pinch hitter off the bench and occasionally filling in at first base whenever Freeman needs a day off. Hinske could also play left field in a pinch, although there are much better options on the roster.