Before I get to First Base - here is the biggest thing that jumped out to me
- Think - This is a better team than last years. Not across the board. There are questions. But taking into consideration that the accumulation of 162 is all that matters....better
That my friends is a conclusion drawn from nothing more than "The Eyeball Test". Watching the Uptons pal around with Jason Heyward on the backfields of the complex...to the batting cages beyond the centerfield wall ...to the work I saw on the main field. It LOOKS like an upgrade...WAR #'s be damned (Another story for another day. Just know this - I like #'s. But eventually they're just numbers. Be careful of which ones make up your Bible)
Okay. Here we go.
Freddie Freeman will be more consistent this year. The "lows" wont be as low or last as long. He told me flat out that his bad stretches will be "fixed" quicker. Strikeouts came in bunches. His plan to avoid the week long slides ("not acceptable for a player who is relied upon") include a better understanding of when to attack and when to let it come to him
Freeman is the Cleanup hitter in this lineup. With Brian McCann out to start the season and Dan Ugglas struggles...this is where he and the team are best served.
If he develops the way he is projected - get man stronger and learn to drive the ball to all fields and look to go pull DEEEEP on pitches that are conducive to that - cut down on the K's (129 for a guy his age not that bad - he did walk 64 times so his ratio is a good indication that his ABs will get better) as he builds up his book on pitchers and pitches...he can be a guy who hits 3rd/5th/6th. That flexibility is great. To start 2013 he will be relied upon to help set up leads early for his pitchers. Speed (and very good baserunning skills) in front of him will afford him the opportunity for 1st inning RBIs. I love the idea that runners on base for him early and often can bring his RBI total to 110 this year. Wait. Are you laughing? He had 94 last year.
I also believe that going in 2013 Freddie Freeman will be one of the 2-3 best "Bang for Your Buck" First Baseman in all of Baseball
Eyes - New Contacts in place - Check
Finger - Healthy and pain free - Check
Gold Glove Type D - He'll have a few. Soon. - Check
Confidence - Better than ever. He can still be a big kid. Get made fun of more often than anyone else on this team. Don't let that fool you. He knows he can play. 23 Hrs and 94 RBI say so. BUT...the way he carries himself on the field and his want for the big ABs is starting to from. That isn't good news. It's great news.
Be back this week to take a look at the guy who I believe is THE most important person in this years lineup.
2nd Base up next