Freeman’s surge continues with ‘mammo’ homer

NEW YORK – He’s been somewhat overshadowed in the Braves offense by the resurgence of Jason Heyward, the All-Star performance of leadoff man Michael Bourn and the exploits of 40-year-old Chipper Jones, but consider for a moment just what Freddie Freeman has done this season.

Despite being slowed for several weeks, first because of vision problems and then a finger injury, Freeman has hit .281 with 27 doubles (second on the team to Martin Prado), 14 homers, an .821 OPS and a team-high 74 RBIs in 100 games.

Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman had plenty to get excited about in Saturday's 9-3 win against the Mets, when Freeman drove in five runs in the first two innings with a double and a mammoth three-run homer. (AP photo)

Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman had plenty to get excited about in Saturday's 9-3 win against the Mets, when Freeman drove in five runs in the first two innings with a double and a mammoth three-run homer. (AP photo)

Since getting healthy he has a .327 average with six homers, 37 RBIs and a .946 OPS in his past 45 games, including .362 (17-for-47) with 14 RBIs in his last 13 games before tonight’s series finale against the Mets on ESPN.

“He’s maturing and growing up as a major league right in front of our eyes,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after Freeman drove in five runs in Saturday’s 9-3 win with a two-run double in the first inning and a mammoth – or “mammo” in Chipper-speak – three-run homer to straightaway center in the second.

Freeman began today tied for sixth in the NL in RBIs, and just one of the other 13 NL leaders in that category had as few or fewer at-bats as he did – Buster Posey, who had 75 RBIs in 370 at-bats. No other Brave is within 15 RBIs of Freeman.

“He’s taking the next step toward stardom,” Jones said. “I mean, he’s going to drive in 100 runs. That’s something that’s pretty big for guys in the middle of the lineup, especially young guys. Do it once and get some confidence, know that you can go out there and do it every year. Freddie’s a guy that, if he stays healthy, he can run off a few 100-RBI seasons in a row.”

Chipper should know, considering he had eight consecutive 100-RBI seasons through age 31 in 2003.

In 28 games since the All-Star break, Freeman has hit .330 (33-for-100) with 13 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs and a .957 OPS, looking more and more like he did when he won two NL Player of the Week awards in the first six weeks of the season, before his eyes dried out and he spent weeks trying to find the right medicated drops or contacts or glasses that would help him see straight.

When he finally got that situation worked out, he got hit in the hand by a Jose Reyes throw while sliding into second base, which somehow didn’t break his finger but left it throbbing and painful to grip the bat for weeks.

“I’m getting there,” Freeman said, when I asked him after last night’s game about being healthy again. “I’m still battling my finger and all that, but everything is healthy enough where I can control it now. I’m getting back where I’m able to drive balls to the middle, like I did today.”

To say he drove that ball to center field last night would be like saying sprinter Usain Bolt is a confident fella.

Freeman seriously hammered it. The estimate was 455 feet, or 10 feet shy of the Citi Field-record blast by Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton last year.

This after Freeman drove in the first two runs of the game with a double off Johan Santana in the first inning. The double came with two out on a first-pitch fastball – in other words, basically a perfect Freeman hitting situation.

By that I mean, Freeman leads the NL with 36 two-out RBIs and leads the majors with a .556 average (30-for-54) when he puts the first pitch in play, with nine doubles, three homers, 15 RBIs and an .889 slugging percentage. (Heyward is fifth in NL with a .471 average in 31 at-bats when he puts the first pitch in play.)

With runners in scoring position and two outs, Freeman’s .404 average (21-for-52) is the NL leader among hitters with at least 25 such at-bats.

“That [two-out RBIs) is my favorite,” he said. “It really hurts the other team when you get a two-out ribbie. It’s something that I take a lot of pride in, and I’ve actually done a good job this year with that.”

Chipper has been known as a clutch hitter and RBI machine throughout his career, but he and Freeman go about it altogether differently. The veteran switch-hitter studies pitchers, commits to memory thousands of pitches he’s faced and situations where he’s comes through with a big hit or failed to deliver, so he can do it again or try to avoid making the same mistake. Chipper often goes to the plate looking for a specific pitch and has the discipline to lay off other pitches until he gets that pitch.

Freeman? He’s an admitted free-swinger, a guy who’s swung at 44.7 percent of the first pitches he’s seen this season, more than anyone in the majors except Ian Desmond and Josh Hamilton. And in almost any count he’s liable to swing at pitches a bit inside or outside, high or low, fastballs or breaking balls.

It’s not an approach that works for a lot of guys, but it does for him.

Freeman is a big dude (nearly 6 feet 5 and 245 pounds) with a short, compact swing, not something you see too often.

Freeman swings at the first pitch more than almost anyone in baseball, and at a higher rate of success than anyone else this season. (AP photo)

Freeman swings at the first pitch more than almost anyone in baseball, and at a higher rate of success than anyone else this season. (AP photo)

“It’s not like he’s only looking for one pitch,” Bourn said. “He can wait back [for a breaking ball], and he can take advantage of the fastball at the same time. He’s one of those hitters that, if he’s on, he can see the ball pretty good. And right now, it looks like he’s seeing it pretty good.”

Braves pitcher Kris Medlen likes to spend time talking to the position players, getting inside their heads to see what makes them tick. It helps him to better understand hitters’ approaches. But not so much with Freeman.

“I think he’s, he’s like one of those guys that doesn’t — I haven’t talked to him about hitting – I don’t know if he has a plan,” Medlen said, smiling. “Swings at everything, he’ll lay off some nasty stuff … I don’t know. He’ll hit a ball six inches off the plate, inside and outside, and like, at his head. He just puts the barrel on the ball and it goes a long way.

“He’s a big, strong kid, so … It’s crazy to see, but when he hits well it’s awesome.”

He’s hitting well now. Has been all season when he wasn’t dealing with vision issues or the finger that was too painful to grip the bat properly or catch an Andrelton Simmons throw without cringing.

Ask the Mets about what a force he can be: Freeman is 16-for-35 (.457) with five doubles and three homers in his past nine games against the Metropolitans. He has a whopping 15 RBIs in his past seven games against them entering tonight’s series finale, including five multi-RBI games.

On Saturday he hit a couple of tape-measure shots beyond the applie that rises from an enclosure built into the center-field batter’s eye beyond the fence. Then hit hit his titanic shot past it during the game.

He was eager to see  first-base coach Terry Pendleton after they got back to the dugout.

“TP tells me every day [during batting practice], ‘Game, please,’” Freeman said of the message he gets from Pendleton after hitting long homers during batting practice. “So this time I actually got to tell him I did it in the game.”

BRAVES LINEUP

  1. Bourn cf
  2. Prado lf
  3. Heyward rf
  4. Jones 3b
  5. Freeman 1b
  6. Uggla 2b
  7. McCann c
  8. Janish ss
  9. Sheets p

• OK, let’s post this so you can read it before the first pitch. By the way, Tommy Hanson pitched well in his rehab start today for Triple-A Gwinnett, allowing three hits and two walks with five strikeouts in five scoreless innings. He threw 48 strikes in 78 pitches.

Hanson was only scheduled to make one rehab start after coming off the DL for a sore back. Now, it’s decision time.

Gonzalez said Braves officials will discuss over the next few days whether they’re going to go with a five- or six-man rotation, but reiterated that if it’s the latter, it’ll only be six starters for the remainder of the 19-games-in-19-days period they’re in now (which will be 16 in 16 days after Sunday).

• We’ll close with a sublime cut from one of the songwriting masters, the great Tom Waits. You can hear it by clicking here.

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“ROMEO IS BLEEDING” by Tom Waits

Romeo is bleeding, but not so as you’d notice.
He’s over on 18th street as usual,
Lookin’ so hard against the hood of his car,
And puttin’ out a cigarette in his hand.
And for all the pachucos at the pumps
At Romero’s paint and body,
And seein’ how far they can spit,
Well it was just another night.
But now they’re huddled in the brake lights
Of a ‘58 Bel Air,
And listenin’ to how Romeo
Killed a sheriff his knife.

And they all jump when they hear the sirens,
But Romeo just laughs and says,
“All the racket in the world
Ain’t never gonna save that copper’s a**.
He’ll never see another summertime
For gunnin’ down my brother,
And leavin’ him like a dog
Beneath a car without his knife.”

And Romeo says, “Hey man gimme a cigarette,”
And they all reach for their pack,
And Frankie lights it for him
And pats him on the back,
And throws bottle at a milk truck,
And as it breaks he grabs his nu**,
And they all know they could be just like Romeo,
If they only had the guts.

But Romeo is bleeding, but nobody can tell,
And he sings along with the radio
With a bullet in his chest.
And he combs back his fenders,
And they all agree it’s clear,
That every thing is cool now that Romeo’s here.

But Romeo is bleeding,
And he winces now and then,
And he leans against the car doors
And feels the blood in his shoes.
And someone’s crying at the 5 points
At the phone booth by the store.
Romeo starts his engine,
And wipes the blood off the door.

And he broadys through the signal,
With the radio full blast,
Leavin’ the boys there hikin’ up their chinos.
And they’re all try to stand like Romeo,
With the moon cut like a sickle.
And they’re talkin’ now in Spanish about their hero.

But Romeo is bleeding
As he gives the man his ticket,
And he climbs the balcony at the movies.
He’ll die without a whimper,
Like every hero’s dream,
Like an angel with a bullet,
And Cagney on the screen.

Romeo is bleeding.
Romeo is bleeding… hey man.
Romeo is bleeding… hey man.
Romeo is bleeding… hey man.
Romeo is bleeding….

— David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

884 comments Add your comment

1st! Ha!

August 12th, 2012
7:09 pm

1st! Yessss!

eskippy

August 12th, 2012
7:09 pm

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 12th, 2012
7:10 pm

3rd dang it… An Idjiot got 1st. Nice read DOB

David O'Brien

August 12th, 2012
7:11 pm

Nats sure made it interesting, but they lost. They lost. They actually lost.

Tyler(TN)

August 12th, 2012
7:12 pm

Who cares if your first?

Venice Jim

August 12th, 2012
7:15 pm

Thanks, DOB!!!

ChattTownBrian

August 12th, 2012
7:15 pm

Pace

August 12th, 2012
7:15 pm

Oh DOB – great write-up, fail on the link to Tom Waits:

“Tom Waits (Austin 1978)…”
This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated due to multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement from claimant:

Pink Floyd Music Ltd

Sorry about that.

CaptainMudd

August 12th, 2012
7:16 pm

The prize for 1st is unknown, unspecified…..and classified [read: 1 is the loneliest number that you'll ever see]

George

August 12th, 2012
7:16 pm

Repost from old blog.
George

August 12th, 2012
7:10 pm
BRAVES 15-1 when MEDS starts, and FREDI with his great [wisdom?] is going to replace him with TOMMY. Smart MGR we have. FREDI, are you going to start TOMMY in the play-in game?

Trey

August 12th, 2012
7:16 pm

Tommy Hanson is coming back way too soon. :( I hate that, because you know Medlen will get the short end of the stick.

ChattTownBrian

August 12th, 2012
7:16 pm

ACE

August 12th, 2012
7:17 pm

Sweep away the mets.

phil

August 12th, 2012
7:18 pm

Next…better than first.

Nats lose so we will too now?

ChattTownBrian

August 12th, 2012
7:18 pm

Nobody pays attention to each other around here unless you say something they don’t like. That’s why there are so many haters, because they know they’ll get responses that way.

George

August 12th, 2012
7:18 pm

We must win division. It would be a disaster for us to be in the play-in gamr with FREDI as MGR.

nolie

August 12th, 2012
7:19 pm

I liked the Romeo Is Bleeding movie, Real mean female baddie

Mark

August 12th, 2012
7:21 pm

Chatt hits the nail on the head regarding the blog!!

nolie

August 12th, 2012
7:21 pm

did CTB just post sumthang???

Mixxo

August 12th, 2012
7:21 pm

Nats lose so we will too now?

If you’re going by our record on the national stage for the last 17 years…..

…it’s not too good. Not good at all. We fold like a cheap suit on national broadcasts. :(

Trey

August 12th, 2012
7:22 pm

CTB, I don’t like you posting those numbers! ;)

CaptainMudd

August 12th, 2012
7:23 pm

Watching closing ceremony program…..lots of highlights of 30th Olympiad…..Hope Solo cupped her hands and blocked a kick that was so lo….hope she be ok

George

August 12th, 2012
7:23 pm

Does anyone know our record over the past 3 season when we are on ESPN Sunday night baseball?

UPGRAYEDD

August 12th, 2012
7:26 pm

Hanson needs one more rehab start. No need rushing this. We’ve got the hosses to cover for the next five games. Delay the decision.

Mark

August 12th, 2012
7:26 pm

Baseball Tonight is talking about Nats saying they are gonna shut down Strasburg. Yet to be seen so we’ll see.

If a team were really going to do this and shut down their best young pitcher why wouldn’t they hold him out at the beginning of the year then start throwing him so he can throw in the playoffs.

CaptainMudd

August 12th, 2012
7:27 pm

@ChattTownBrian…..We need people on the blog who hold the light…..you are an insightful and interesting fan of our Braves…..and, you share your Moon Pies accordingly.

George

August 12th, 2012
7:29 pm

Delay the decision.
*************
Like forever, MEDLAN is going to be hurt by FREDI, MEDS does his best , then gets dumped on.

Venice Jim

August 12th, 2012
7:29 pm

Nobody pays attention to each other around here unless you say something they don’t like.

My thoughts exactly…

nolie

August 12th, 2012
7:29 pm

CTB shares his moon pies? oh well, in that case i will be nicer to him and pay attention to what he says….

George

August 12th, 2012
7:31 pm

ChattTownBrian is a good poster, I enjoy reading him.

Trey

August 12th, 2012
7:31 pm

I want a moon pie.

nolie

August 12th, 2012
7:32 pm

how much did brian pay you for that comment george?

nolie

August 12th, 2012
7:35 pm

prolly a whole package fulla moon pies

George

August 12th, 2012
7:35 pm

Not enough nolie, lol

abby normal

August 12th, 2012
7:35 pm

I think if I hear “mammo” one more time I’m going to puke! Maybe old Chipper, who coined the phrase, has a tittie complex.

BFChris27

August 12th, 2012
7:39 pm

Lets win Braves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nats LOST 8-)

George

August 12th, 2012
7:40 pm

abby normal

August 12th, 2012
7:35 pm
Well at least in the past he liked HOOTERS a lot.

Ron H

August 12th, 2012
7:42 pm

Let’s go, Bravos! Team is playing good…too bad the gNats are playing great. They have to cool off a bit!

ChattTownBrian

August 12th, 2012
7:45 pm

I can’t believe Captain Mudd remembers I worked at the Chatt. Bakery. Wow, great memory.

George is just a wise man, nolie. He knows a wise mind when he sees it. :oops:

iTiSi

August 12th, 2012
7:45 pm

“CTB” you forgot to add “or say something they disagree with in principle or philosophy”, then you get ridiculed, chided, chastised, mocked, belittled, and called “fool” or “idiot” by those who think they have been on here long enough to deserve that right, or think they know more, or better, than anyone else. I could list names but they know who they are, and that would be somewhat immature wouldn’t it? That’s why I don’t say anymore than I do. It’s sorta like the “LUIWEJGJKPLASWECBPEOWYRT crowd”. If you don’t agree with them, you are a bigot or something worse.

Keith

August 12th, 2012
7:47 pm

Freeman and JHey are looking like a bright future right now. :)

GO BRAVES. 3.5 after tonight.

ChattTownBrian

August 12th, 2012
7:47 pm

Banana flavor moon pie is delicious. My wife likes the vanilla.

George

August 12th, 2012
7:48 pm

IS “ITISI” and “ACE” THE SAME POSTER?

CaptainMudd

August 12th, 2012
7:49 pm

I do not like the Sunday ESPN thing

George

August 12th, 2012
7:49 pm

Outta here for game. LETS GET A WIN TONIGHT.

ChattTownBrian

August 12th, 2012
7:50 pm

I think Trey has to be the most sane blogger here. Everybody else is a little out there, including me. Efrim and Lew are pretty level, too.

Mixxo

August 12th, 2012
7:50 pm

iTiSi -

Tell the truth Kemosabe.

It’s sad but, that’s the way it is.

AdirondackDave

August 12th, 2012
7:51 pm

DOB — Great blog on Freeman… which brings me to ask you about Ernesto Mejia, the 1B slugger at Gwinnett which hit No. 24 today in Hanson’s good start. Mejia is 26 and seems to be getting stronger and stronger, hittingt .300+ all year. Do the Braves lose control over him at the end of the season? Obviously, Freeman has a lock on 1B so any chance he could tried at LF or 3B? Seems like he could be a good trading chip if he has no realistic future in Atlanta. What’s your take? Thanks for the great read, as always.

Venice Jim

August 12th, 2012
7:53 pm

ridiculed, chided, chastised, mocked, belittled,

I need to work on my belittling skills – they have been shoddy of late…

Chris from the Rock

August 12th, 2012
7:53 pm

Schilling just predicted the Braves won’t make the playoffs on BBTN. He should stick to running video game companies into the ground.

phil

August 12th, 2012
7:54 pm

We were just summarily dismissed from any playoff berth by the baseball tonight gang…zero respect for us. Not surprised but they can kiss my ass, especially Mr Bankrupt, Schilling…

njbraves

August 12th, 2012
7:56 pm

Schilling is a blowhard fool. Who cares what he says.

Mixxo

August 12th, 2012
7:56 pm

phil -

We’re the ‘hated’ Braves. You expect anything different? They hate us…..always have.

George

August 12th, 2012
7:57 pm

ChattTownBrian

August 12th, 2012
7:50 pm
Yup I also am a little out there and go a little to far at times.

Mixxo

August 12th, 2012
7:57 pm

That catch by Rajai Davis….awesome!

He went UP for that one.

Venice Jim

August 12th, 2012
7:58 pm

I was about to ask what kind of moron subjects his decades younger better half to Doo Wop Love Songs on PBS just so he can catch a couple of glimpses of Cousin Brucie – but apparently the kind who was protecting her from having to make her 3rd rant of the night about Curt Schilling…

Chip of the Ole Block

August 12th, 2012
7:59 pm

I invite you to LIKE this Thanks Chipper page on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/ThanksChipper
If we reach 1,110 LIKES we will give away tickets to the Chipper ceremony September 28th.

Bravofan

August 12th, 2012
8:00 pm

Im so glad the Nats finally lost!!

BFChris27

August 12th, 2012
8:01 pm

Chipper kinda hinted he’d like to be next hitting coach when Francona gets his next managing job 8-)

Pace

August 12th, 2012
8:02 pm

Were those the ESPN broadcasters? All 3 seemed kinda positive on the team – gotta check my signal, couldn’t have been complimentary comments.

George

August 12th, 2012
8:04 pm

BFChris27

August 12th, 2012
8:01 pm
PRAY that it is here. Now outta here for game. LETS GET A WIN TONIGHT.

BFChris27

August 12th, 2012
8:05 pm

George

Tito managing Braves would be nice to see really 8-)

Venice Jim

August 12th, 2012
8:07 pm

Yes, because he would never lead a collapse…

Mixxo

August 12th, 2012
8:07 pm

Attaway Mikey!

BFChris27

August 12th, 2012
8:07 pm

Bourn!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Venice Jim

August 12th, 2012
8:07 pm

Nice job, Michael!!!

BF54

August 12th, 2012
8:08 pm

Mikeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey!!!

Chris from the Rock

August 12th, 2012
8:08 pm

Prado is due for a homer.

iTiSi

August 12th, 2012
8:08 pm

I hate it when the division champ ends up with a worse record than the wildcard team(s) and that’s what it looks like is going to happen this year. Giants and Dodgers both way back there. There should be some kind of adjustment for that. I don’t know what, but something. Dang it, give’em a handicap. One loss going into the playoffs!

Venice Jim

August 12th, 2012
8:09 pm

Excellent…

Pace

August 12th, 2012
8:09 pm

Wants to face the lefty :) Not a wise move (I hope)

MAD

August 12th, 2012
8:09 pm

Wow, did Schilling really say the Braves wouldn’t make the playoffs or just not win the division?

If the playoffs that is insane. Got to be called out on that one. What a azzhat.

BF54

August 12th, 2012
8:10 pm

Eric Gregg in heaven “those are strikes ump”

Mitchell

August 12th, 2012
8:10 pm

Please, God… do not lose this game Braves.

Please.

Thank you.

Mixxo

August 12th, 2012
8:11 pm

Venice Jim

August 12th, 2012
8:12 pm

Pace

August 12th, 2012
8:12 pm

Uh – Martin? You’re supposed to follow – don’t make excuses Tito.

Hmmmm

August 12th, 2012
8:13 pm

not a great inning

ncbravesfan90

August 12th, 2012
8:13 pm

Well that hurts, Heyward’s AB really hurt.

phil

August 12th, 2012
8:13 pm

Venice Jim

August 12th, 2012
8:13 pm

Fredi’s fault for letting Chipper play…

njbraves

August 12th, 2012
8:13 pm

Would have been nice for Prado to follow Bourn…bad baserunning.

brian

August 12th, 2012
8:14 pm

Killer of a first inning for the Braves. Shades of the past few years with runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out. Strikeout and DP = no runs

Chris from the Rock

August 12th, 2012
8:14 pm

Yes, Schilling pronounced the Nats division winners, and Dodgers and Pirates wild card winners.

Mixxo

August 12th, 2012
8:14 pm

Hope that top half isn’t a precursor to the rest of the game.

Oh well, at least we won the series right?

David O'Brien

August 12th, 2012
8:15 pm

brian

August 12th, 2012
8:15 pm

I agree with Martin not running on Bourn’s steal. I would image in that case catchers probably think they have a better chance of getting Prado at 2B than Bourn

iTiSi

August 12th, 2012
8:16 pm

Just don’t get any worse than that. Runners first and third, one out, and CJ hits into a DP! Wow! Have the Braves offended Lady Karma?

Venice Jim

August 12th, 2012
8:17 pm

Nice start…

brian

August 12th, 2012
8:17 pm

Good for Hanson. I hope all our pitchers make it a hard decision for the powers that be

Venice Jim

August 12th, 2012
8:18 pm

Just don’t get any worse than that.

Bases loaded, none out?

phil

August 12th, 2012
8:18 pm

Too many pitches….bring in martinez

Venice Jim

August 12th, 2012
8:18 pm

Not as good…

Mark

August 12th, 2012
8:18 pm

May have been good baserunning b/c obviously he didn’t know Bourn was gonna get a walking lead and take the base.

SOS Braves

August 12th, 2012
8:19 pm

Typical Braves blowing a first inning chance to score.

Mark

August 12th, 2012
8:20 pm

We didn’t get the bases loaded did we?

phil

August 12th, 2012
8:20 pm

Bring back KK

Venice Jim

August 12th, 2012
8:21 pm

Mixxo

August 12th, 2012
8:21 pm

SOS Braves -

The “big” stage is not our friend.

Choke-masters on the “big” stage. :(

kelevra

August 12th, 2012
8:21 pm

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