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With runners on, Freddie Freeman is a different batter

Freeman is significantly worse at the plate with no runners on base than he is with someone on.

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Dodgers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Which version of Freddie Freeman we see at the plate depends on one thing: whether there’s a runner on base.

Freeman is hitting .223 with a 21% strikeout rate with the bases empty, but .381 with a 7% strikeout rate with at least one runner on. It gets even better with a runner in scoring position, when his KO rate goes down to 4%. That all translates to a .843 OPS without a runner and .956 with in 2021.

And while most players improve slightly with runners on base — last year, the Majors posted a collective .710 OPS with empty bases and .751 with runners on — Freeman’s numbers are almost unheard of. The Marlins’ Jazz Chisholm Jr. has similar numbers but falls below the 75-plate-appearance minimum that’s Mike Petriello used in his analysis.

Freeman knows he’s hot or cold depending on the running situation, and it might be because of his approach.

“Sometimes with nobody on base, I think, ‘Well, maybe if I hit the ball in the gap...’” Freeman said. “Obviously that usually never works, because when I try to do too much, that never works for me.”

The shift may also play a part: Freeman sees a shift 84% of the time with the bases empty, far higher than the league-average of 62% for fellow left-handed hitters. As Petriello points out, not only does that make a single less valuable in general — it also makes them harder to come by.

“My approach is always to left-center, shortstop area,” Freeman said. “But maybe with guys on base and the shift, I’m more homed in to just taking the single.”

Petriello breaks down Freddie’s odd stats further here.

Dodgers Links

Trea Turner to the Phillies? With the mutual admiration between him and former teammate Bryce Harper, it’s a possibility, writes Tim Kelly at Phillies Nation.

Zach Buchanan at The Athletic compares the Dodgers’ Diego Cartaya with fellow prospect Elly De La Cruz of the Reds’ farm system after the two teams faced off last week.

Justin Turner is getting ever-closer to turning 40, and while his speed and power have somewhat declined, there’s no need to panic just yet, writes Darius Austin at Baseball Prospectus.