Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Freeman has a Chipper-esque quality
By Mark Simon
The New York Mets had two issues in their 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday. They could not solve Ervin Santana as Dave Schoenfield notes in the Sweet Spot blog and they could not get either Jason Heyward or Freddie Freeman out.
The Heyward thing has not been too bad of an issue in the past (he’s hitting .226 against the Mets over the last three seasons, though he’s made a couple of nifty catches on the defensive side). He snapped an 0 for 22 streak with a 3 for 4 night, including a leadoff home run in an 11-pitch at-bat.
Freeman has turned into the Chipper Jones of this millennium. In fact, Freeman has the same batting average against the Mets (.309) that Jones finished his career with.
Freeman’s two RBIs on Wednesday gave him 37 in 38 games against the Mets over the last three seasons. That’s by far the most in the majors over that span. Next-closest is Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche with 25. Freeman’s slashline against the Mets is .324/.384/.614, good for a .999 OPS.
Facing lefties and righties have made no difference to him. He’s hitting .333 (16 for 48) against lefties and .320 (with eight home runs in 100 at-bats) against righties. He’s 15 for 32 (.469 batting average) over that time with runners in scoring position. He’s become an early nemesis to Zack Wheeler, going 5 for 9 with a home run against him.
What’s the best means by which the Mets can get him out?
The problem is, there isn’t really a good answer to that. Freeman is hitting .324 over the last two seasons, .300 against left-handed pitching. The Mets who have had the most success against Freeman of late – Bobby Parnell (against whom Freeman is 0 for 5 with four strikeouts) and Tim Byrdak (1 for 10, four strikeouts) are injured or unsigned.
Freeman is 1 for 8 against current Met Carlos Torres, including 1 for 7 last season. Torres has got Freeman out by working the edges of the plate. Twenty two of his 23 pitches to Freeman over the last two seasons have been on either the inside or outside third of the plate, or off the respective corners.
But that requires a precision that Mets pitchers just did not have on Wednesday night.