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We don’t appreciate Freddie Freeman enough

Tuesday’s Say Hey, Baseball looks at the monster run Freddie Freeman is on, Bryce Harper’s eventual contract, and some insight from Mike Matheny.

San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Listen, we know it’s tough to catch up on everything happening in the baseball world each morning. There are all kinds of stories, rumors, game coverage, and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans every day. Trying to find all of it while on your way to work or sitting at your desk just isn’t easy. It’s OK, though. We’re going to do the heavy lifting for you each morning and find the things you need to see from within the SB Nation baseball network, as well as from elsewhere. Please hold your applause until the end, or at least until after you subscribe to the newsletter.

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Freddie Freeman has been great for a while now, but in 2016, he ascended to new levels in his career. The season certainly didn't begin that way, with the Braves' first baseman batting a solid — but not great — .248/.343/.432 through his first 63 games. That all changed on June 15, when Freeman hit for the cycle, and he hasn't slowed down since. He would finish the 2016 season batting .302/.400/.569, good for a career-high OPS+ of 157, and has hit even better to start his 2017.

Over his last 130 games dating back to that cycle, Freeman has hit .338/.440/.680 with 37 homers and 86 extra-base hits overall. That 1121 OPS even beats out what Mike Trout has done over the same stretch, and by 51 points. It's better than what Bryce Harper produced in 2015, when he led the NL in basically everything en route to a 198 OPS+. Freeman is leading the NL with 13 homers this season, putting him on pace for 60 over 162 games. He's not quite at the levels of Harper and Trout this year, but only because those two are doing ungodly things to baseballs that somehow surpass Freeman's own work.

Freeman has very quietly been one of the top hitters in baseball, if not the best hitter, since the start of last summer. No one has noticed because he's on the rebuilding Braves, who were carried out of last year's awful start by climbing on Freeman's back, and have struggled this year in spite of what he's accomplishing. Freeman is 27, hitting as well as anyone in the game, and also happens to be under contract over the next five years at just $106.5 million. He never gets the attention that other sluggers do, but maybe we should all make a point of changing that.

  • Speaking of Bryce Harper, now that his body is feeling better and his decision-making at the plate is back on track, he's been destroying everything in his path. This is all just the preamble to when he destroys the 2018 offseason.
  • Terry Francona and Kevin Cash go way back, and much of that time involves Francona pranking the Rays' manager. The most recent of those came on Monday, when Francona reminded everyone in attendance that Cash was a garbage hitter in his day.
  • Sure, Freddie Freeman is mashing, but the rest of the Braves aren't doing so hot, and it might be time to trade Julio Teheran before they can't.