1. Freddie Freeman chasing numbers that have never been seen in Atlanta
With a pair of two-run home runs off White Sox All-Star Lucas Giolito in Sunday’s 5-3 win, Freddie Freeman built on what’s already a career-high number of long balls — 38 and counting — and he drove in five on the day to push his RBI total to 114, the most in the majors and the highest total of his 10-year career.
“MVP,” said manager Brian Snitker. “He’s amazing. What he does and the timing and when we need it.”
Freeman isn’t alone in the race for the Braves’ first 40-home run season since Andruw Jones hit 41 in 2006, with Ronald Acuña Jr. sitting on 36 – and running down the fifth 40/40 year in MLB history with 33 steals — and Josh Donaldson with 33. But it’s Freeman, backed by that RBI total, that is chasing down a season that’s never been seen in Atlanta.
On pace for 45 home runs and 134 RBI, those figures would make Freeman the first player since the team moved to Georgia in 1966 to have 44 or more homers and 130-plus RBI. The other three such seasons in franchise history belong to Hank Aaron (1957 and ’63) and Eddie Mathews (1953), all while the team was in Milwaukee.
Only five National League players have had that kind of season in the last 10 years, Giancarlo Staton (2017), Nolan Arenado (2016 and ’15), Prince Fielder (2009), Ryan Howard (2008 and ’09) and Albert Pujols (’09).
Freeman’s home run pace also him chasing a few other pieces of franchise history. No Braves first baseman has ever hit more than Andres Galarraga’s 44 in 1998 and with 30 doubles, he’s now three homers from the fourth 40/30 season, joining Chipper Jones (1999), Aaron (’69) and Mathews (’53).
Days like Sunday are going to go along way toward Freeman etching his name in Braves history. His five-RBI day was the seventh time in his career he’s driven in that many runs, but it’s now just the second time he’s done it twice in a season, the last coming in 2012.
“If he’s not the MVP of this league, I don’t know who is,” Snitker said. “We don’t take him for granted. We know we have something pretty special in the person and the ballplayer.”
Freeman is trending in the right direction for this historical chase, and sets the stage for an intriguing next two weeks with 14 games vs. the Nationals and Phillies.
While his .800 OPS vs. Washington is fourth-lowest of any NL team the Braves have faced this season, Freeman has a 1.110 OPS vs. the Phillies, the best of any team he’s seen more than seven times.
Brett Davis Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports