This is probably only the second time–the Blackfan tweet was the first– I’ve said this, but…thank you, Jon Heyman.
This tweet gives us something to talk about during what feels like a low point in the owner-imposed lockout of MLB players. It seems like everyone loves Freddie Freeman as a player and a person and the thought of him in pinstripes should excite any of us.
Freeman, the 2020 MVP winner–and top-10 finisher every year since 2018– sports low strikeout rates and good walk rates and has been consistent in all of those things for the last few years. He also plays solid defense (82nd percentile for OAA in 2021) at first and, as a lefty hitter with power, would be a welcome addition to the Yankees’ offense.
It’s worth noting that Freeman will be 33 in September and conventional wisdom tells us that this isn’t great for a guy who’s already ‘just’ a first baseman. If the Yankees really are going to keep intentionally losing a game of chicken with the luxury tax threshold, it’s probably not best to pour money into that position with a player that ‘old.’ Signing a shortstop would probably be the best use of that money, but the Yankees appear hesitant to do that. In that case, just sign someone elite. At this point, Freeman is elite and his profile seems like it’ll age well. Famous last words? Maybe. I don’t expect the Yankees to sign Freeman, but it’s a nice thought.
With that in mind, let’s go back to our friend the Lineup Analysis Tool that I used in this post and swap out Freeman in place of ‘incumbent’ Luke Voit. For the record, ZiPS projects Freeman for a .386 OBP and .512 SLG. And instead of using Gleyber Torres at short, I’ll use a .314/.409 OBP/SLG split, the league average for shortstops in 2021.
A lineup consisting of Freeman, DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Joey Gallo, Giancarlo Stanton, Gio Urshela, Aaron Hicks, Gary Sanchez, and a generic shortstop would yield 5.339 runs per game, 865 or so over 162 (which we definitely won’t get this year). The best lineup would be:
The lineup I think that would actually get put down is:
Anyway, like I said, I don’t think Freeman leaves Atlanta unless there’s something seriously amiss. But, given the real cold outside and the figurative cold of the hot stove and lockout, this little rumor is something nice and warm to think about.