After what was a legit MVP-caliber season, could Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman still have more to come?!
Some people will look at this title and think that I’m crazy. However, allow me to explain my point of view. I like Nick Markakis, I really do. However, I doubt that many people would argue that he was an amazing 4-hole hitter. In an ideal situation, he would be a 5 or 6 hole kind of hitter. Freddie Freeman has only had a true protective hitter one time since Chipper Jones.
Most Braves fans remember Freeman’s insanely hot stretch in 2016 that had many talking him up as a potential MVP candidate. That stretch occurred after the Braves traded for Matt Kemp. You can say what you want about his defense and level of fitness, but his power out of the 4th spot cannot be disputed. With Kemp behind him, Freeman was unleashed. He was playing at the same scorching pace in early 2017, when he was hit on the wrist by a pitch from Blue Jays hurler Aaron Loup. That pitch put Freeman on the shelf for a few months, and when he came back his power just wasn’t the same.
Having the threat of Kemp behind Freeman kept pitchers on edge. Markakis is a good hitter, but he just doesn’t possess the same threat that Kemp did. This brings me into the catalyst of this article, a guy Alex Anthoupolous knows very well from his Toronto days.