Further Review

Steve Hummer's Further Review blog offers comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports

Braves offense needs a good (Freeman) hug

Freddie Freeman would agree with none of this, of course, but never has he proven himself more valuable than during his current stretch on the disabled list.

He prefers the notion making himself useful while actually on the field. You practically have to serve him with a restraining order to keep him out of a game.

Braves fans are no different than anyone else, they can’t truly realize what they have until it’s gone. That was the case with the ridiculous streak of division titles. And, to a lesser extent, that is the deal with their first-baseman.

Freeman’s was the one name you could write on the lineup card in indelible marker. He appeared in all 162 games last year, and averaged playing in 153 games between 2011-14. You took him for granted, like the green infield grass and seventh-inning stretch – all just a part of the scene and routine of a Braves game.

Then he goes inactive with an injured wrist and the Braves offense goes from So You Think You Can Dance to The Walking Dead. A coincidence? A result of running into some buzz-saw pitching? No, not entirely.

His has been only a 10-game absence, but it seems much longer. Without Freeman, the Braves have averaged just more than two runs a game. They have hit three home runs. A small sample size, certainly, but its represents a significant drop-off from the 66 games that preceded his injury this year (4.3 runs per game, an average of .62 homers a game opposed to .30 since June 18).

One man does not make an offense. But now that it is in storage, the Freeman Effect seems rather disproportionately important.

We hated the Braves offense back when it was based on swinging for the fences. We squirm now that the home run is a rarity of red diamond proportions (the Braves are last in the majors in home runs).

There is a balance to be struck here and Freeman is so obviously the base upon which the Braves offense teeters.

He’s eligible to come off the DL at week’s end. Ah, but the wrist is a vulnerable, finicky joint, one that is kind of a necessary part of a baseball swing. Hold your breath while eagerly awaiting Freeman’s return to his role of team constant.

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About the Author

Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.