By KEVIN MCALPIN
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – Baseball can be a really funny (and maddening) game. The best part about this crazy game is the fact you can watch it day in and day out, 162 times a summer, and continue to see something you’ve never seen before. Take Freddie Freeman’s weekend for example. Freeman, a ten year Big League vet entered Friday night’s contest against the Nationals with zero career grand slams in 105 at bats with the bases loaded. In his 5,085th career at bat in the Majors, Freeman finally got the monkey off his back and crushed the grandest of all home runs deep into the Atlanta night. Then, after an 0-for-5,084 stretch without a salami, he added another in Sunday’s finale against Washington in the bottom of the sixth that put the game out of reach.
With Sunday’s blast, Freeman became just the second player in Atlanta era history to hit two slams in a single series, joining Tony Cloninger who accomplished the feat in the same game on July 3, 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. While Freddie has been known to come through at clutch moments for his club over the years, his numbers with the bases loaded have always been impressive. A lifetime .289 hitter with the sacks packed, prior to Friday night, Freeman had seven doubles and 66 RBI in those situations with 21 strikeouts in 90 at bats.
While Freeman’s 18 game hit streak came to an end on Saturday, he still found a way to reach base twice in the Braves 10-9 loss. And entering Monday’s series opener with the Marlins, Freeman had drawn 29 walks in the first 40 games with just 26 strikeouts. His .435 on base percentage is way ahead of his career best, which came in 117 games in 2017 (.403), a season that saw him miss nearly seven weeks with a fractured wrist. As many around the game have pointed out, we know how special a player Freeman is here in Atlanta, but he’s probably vastly underrated around the game. He’s a superstar and the Braves are lucky to call him their own. And in a perfect world, they’ll be able to do that until the day he hangs up the cleats.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet.