Just over 100 games into the season, at a time when some rookies start to fade, Freddie Freeman keeps getting better.
The Braves’ 21-year-old first baseman had another three-hit game Wednesday to raise his average to .287. He also made another diving catch of a line drive in the late innings with a runner on base, his third such catch in two nights.
Freeman hit .325 with 29 extra-base hits and a .386 on-base percentage in his past 58 games before Thursday, and had eight homers, 24 RBIs, a .409 OBP and 1.004 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) in his past 30 games.
He extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games with a first-inning single Thursday.
“He’s just getting started,” second baseman Dan Uggla said of the 6-foot-5 California native, whose 11 three-hit games were more that double the next-highest Braves total. “He’s kind of a freak of nature, him and [Jason] Heyward both. They’re both so talented, yet so humble.
“Freddie, he’s acclimated now and he’s just got a great attitude towards everything. This kid, he already is really good, but it’s going to be scary to see what he does in his career.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez says Freeman is the best defensive first baseman he’s seen this season. He compared him to former three-time Gold Glove winner Derrek Lee, who played for the Braves late last season.
“He reminds me of Derrek Lee when Derrek was in his heyday, when he was young,” said Gonzalez, a Florida third-base coach when Lee played for the Marlins early in his career. “Not that Derrek Lee is over the hill, but a young Derrek Lee, who could move around for a big guy.
“He [Freeman] has got to be the best I’ve ever seen at digging balls out of the dirt. Right there with D-Lee.”
Before Thursday, Freeman led NL rookies in hits (106), doubles (24), walks (39) and extra-base hits (39), and ranked second in average (.287), home runs (15) and RBIs (51).