Freddie Freeman: Return to All-Star Form in 2016?


In 2015, Freddie Freeman played in a career-low 118 games due to an injury-riddled season; however, will he return to All-Star form in 2016?

Last season, the Atlanta Braves placed Freddie Freeman on the 15-day DL twice, once for an oblique injury and the other for a wrist injury. Although Freeman fully recovered from the oblique injury, his wrist injury still lingers even after the season drew to a close. There is speculation around the former All-Star that he may need wrist surgery, but Freeman plans to rest his ailing wrist to see if that will bring him back to 100 percent. The Braves and Freedie Freeman are non-committal over whether the first baseman will or will not require surgery.

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Freddie Freeman will rest his wrist during the offseason, but wrist injuries are tricky for power hitting baseball players. If Freeman returns t00 quick from the injury, he risks the possibility of re-injuring the wrist and missing time in 2016; however, Freeman has time on his side. The downside to resting his wrist is that it limits the amount of time in the offseason that Freeman can build up strength for the upcoming season. Freeman wants to be at full-health entering the 2016 season, so both Freeman and the Braves need to address the current situation with the star first baseman’s wrist.

Assuming Freeman enters Spring Training at full-health, he likely returns to being the Freddie Freeman of prior seasons. The 2015 season marked the first year that Freeman suffered serious enough injuries to miss time. Before 2015, Freeman’s career-low for games played sat at a respectable 147 (2012 and 2013). Despite playing in a career-low 118 games in 2015, Freeman’s power returned after a fall-off from 2013 to 2014. In 2015, Freeman hit 18 home runs, tying his 2014 mark, but he played in 44 less games.

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In 2016, Freeman hopes to return to the All-Star form he demonstrated in 2013 and 2014. Additionally, Freeman looks to emulate his 2013 season where he had career-highs in hits (176), home runs (23), RBI (109), and batting average (.319). After Freddie Freeman’s breakout 2013 campaign, the Atlanta Braves signed the young first baseman to an eight-year extension, making him an Atlanta Brave until 2021. Following the 2013 season, Freeman’s numbers decreased in each of the past two seasons, but he looks to right the ship heading into 2016.

The Atlanta Braves and Freddie Freeman both suffered down seasons in 2015, but the Braves look to bolster their lineup in the offseason. Thus, an improved Braves lineup in 2016 presents a better option for Freeman to excel, if he avoids the injury bug. Although protection in the lineup is overrated, better hitters in the lineup to get on base in front of Freeman is not. The Braves want Freeman to be the face of their franchise, and if they want him to be successful, they need to provide him with an opportunity to succeed.

The Braves do not want to waste Freddie Freeman’s prime while the team is rebuilding; thus, expect the Braves to try to turn the team around rather quickly. The Braves made note that their bullpen needs work in the offseason, but they need to add some offense, also. Matt Wieters presents the best option for the Braves this offseason, as the team needs a catcher, as well as an impact-bat. In addition to signing Wieters, the Braves expect big things out of Cuban infielder Hector Olivera.

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If the Braves’ top-two hitters in the lineup can reach base at high OBP clips, expect Freeman to regain his All-Star form. With the middle of the Braves’ lineup perhaps consisting of Freeman, Wieters, and Olivera, the Braves present a formidable lineup, and they offer a defensively-sound team in the field. While many Braves’ fans are nervous about the turnaround, the Braves may be closer to contention than expected. You should expect good things out of the Atlanta Braves and Freddie Freeman in 2016.