Atlanta Braves: Is Freddie Freeman On Pace For The Hall Of Fame?

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: Freddie Freeman #5 of the Atlanta Braves reacts at the conclusion of Game Two of the National League Wild Card Series against the Cincinnati Reds at Truist Park on October 1, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: Freddie Freeman #5 of the Atlanta Braves reacts at the conclusion of Game Two of the National League Wild Card Series against the Cincinnati Reds at Truist Park on October 1, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
2 of 3

The Atlanta Braves have an extensive history of Hall of Fame players, and there is a good chance that trend will continue.

It only makes sense for fans to want their favorite players to make it to the Hall of Fame. Freddie Freeman has rightly earned the title of “fan favorite” and has a real chance of making it into the Hall of Fame. Fortunately, Freddie is nothing if not consistent. He is on his 12th year in and has not shown many signs of regression yet.

Even if he is having a “down year” by his standards, his underlying metrics show that it is more due to bad luck than true regression. It is important to note, regression will happen. It’s just science.

Atlanta Braves connected voters are not the only ones who would vote for Freddie

Fortunately, voters seem to be coming around and actually looking at full bodies of work, and not just the stats that catch the eye. This helps Freddie’s chances, since, even though he does not have crazy eye catching stats, he has been very consistently well above average.

We have seen guys like Andruw Jones, who has the most defensive Wins Above Replacement (dWAR) of primary outfielders all-time, continue to garner more Hall of Fame votes every year. It is impossible to exactly why he is getting more votes without polling each voter, but one has to imagine it is due to the evolution of full body of work stats, like defensive metrics.

Of course, there is no pure formula of how players are voted into the Hall of Fame. Statistics are involved, the human element of different biases and valuing statistics or accolades differently are in play. There are players that are in the Hall of Fame that may not be voted in today, and vice versa.

With that being said, for players like Freddie Freeman, there can be an argument either way on if he is on pace for the Hall of Fame or not. There are some voters who are  in “small hall” camp, and some who just want to vote in their favorite players.

There are also arguments on if only the best players of all-time should be in, the best players of their era, best players in general versus the best at their position, etcetera. The point is there is no exact science on how voters view potential candidates and who should be in.

Because of the human element, it is virtually impossible to predict the future of fringe future Hall of Fame  candidates. Freddie Freeman is one of those guys.

What we can do is look at players who are in, and compare statistics and accolades to see if there is a chance if a player has a shot of making it in. It is important to not cherry pick players and say things like “well, if Harold Baines is in, then my favorite player is in” because there are always outliers.

Ideally what you want to do is get the largest sample size possible and go from there.

Before we do a deep dive on predicting how voters will vote, let’s look at Freddie Freeman’s statistics and see how he stacks up with other Hall of Famers.

Freddie Freeman stacks up well with other Hall of Famers statistically (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Freddie Freeman stacks up well with other Hall of Famers statistically (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

There are many stats to consider with Atlanta Braves‘ Freddie Freeman, as well as many different measurements. The idea here is to give a bunch of different measurements that can be looked at as his career progresses.

First let’s talk about Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Baseball Reference WAR (bWAR) is going to be used here because it seems to focus a little more on offense than Fangraphs. Typically defense should be used more in a debate, but the reality is that HOF voters, although they are coming around to it, just don’t give defense enough credit yet.

As most of us know, WAR is gained in accumulation, much like HRs or Hits, not like batting average or OBP. Freddie has accumulated 38.7 WAR in his 11+ years of work (However, his first season he only had 20 games).

Freddie Freeman averages approximately 147 games per year in a full season. With 38.7 WAR in his career, he averages about 3.88 WAR per 147 games played

It is important to note that this is with a few years that he was injured for part of the time. If you want to look at just offensive WAR, since some voters unjustly disregard defense, he has an offensive WAR (oWAR) of 38.1.

Let’s look at average Hall of Famers at his position. There are 21 players who primarily played 1st base in the Hall of Fame. Their average WAR is 66.9. Their average 7 year peak is 42.7 WAR. Unfortunately, Freddie’s current 7 year peak is 31.9. But, like stated earlier, he is super consistent. Many of these Hall of Fame 1st baseman were streakier than him.

There are a few outlier inclusions in the Hall of Fame. High Pockets Kelly is somehow in the HOF with a career WAR of 24.9, and Jim Bottomly has a career WAR of 35. There are also guys in the HOF that have insane WAR totals. Lou Gehrig has a WAR of 114.1, Jimmie Foxx 93.1, and Albert Pujols will be a shoe in at 99.6 WAR once he is eligible.

There are Hall of Fame careers to look at that Freddie has a high likelihood of catching that could realistically be argued should or should not have been elected, with both arguments having merit.

·         Tony Perez with a 54 WAR

·         Orlando Cepeda (50.0)

·         Harmon Killebrew (60)

·         Hank Greenberg (55.7)

·         George Sisler (54)

·         Bill Terry (55.8)

·         Jake Beckley (61.7)

The point of showing these names is that Freddie could easily catch these players in terms of WAR. Whether these players deserve to be in the HOF or not is not up for debate here. Their careers are just being used as a measuring stick.

If we look at players of Freddie’s profile, the average player plays for around 19-20 years give or take a few years. For arguments sake, let’s say Freddie has 8 seasons after this year since that will equal 20. Then, let’s say there may be some seasons as he gets older that he will not get full seasons in.

The average 1st baseman in the Hall of Fame has a WAR of 66.9 WAR. Freddie is on pace for a career 39.39 career WAR at the end of the 2021 season. He needs 27.52 WAR to get to the 66.9 Average. That would mean if he can put out 8 more years in the MLB, he would need to average 3.43 WAR.

Like stated earlier, he is averaging 3.88 WAR per season as of right now. So, if he keeps up his consistency that he has had, he will get there if he can stay healthy. History has proven that he will regress with age. Fortunately though, historically defense regresses way faster than offense, and 1st base does not hinge on defense as much as other positions.

Arguably, a player that could be used as decent measuring stick, would be Harmon Killebrew. Even though it can be argued either way that he should be in the HOF or not statistically, you will be hard pressed to see an argument that he should not be in. He is about as average a Hall of Famer statistically as they come.

If Freddie is able to surpass him, then there is at least an argument that he should be in. If we do the same calculations as before, Freddie would only need 2.57 WAR per season for 8 Years of ball to match Killebrew’s output. For reference, Freeman has only had a 2.57 WAR or below in 2 of his full seasons in the league. The rest of his seasons ranged from 3 to 6.3.

From a WAR standpoint, Freddie is slowly making a case to be voted into the HOF. He won’t be a first ballot guy like Chipper, but he will be able to make a case if he stays healthy.

Freddie Freeman could garner extensive HOF votes (Photo by Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images)
Freddie Freeman could garner extensive HOF votes (Photo by Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images) /

Will HOF voters vote for Atlanta Braves‘ Freddie Freeman? Time will tell.

We would be naïve if we did not realize that humans are doing the voting, and not an algorithm of stats that make the votes. That being said, we need to look at some other factors that some voters look at.

Bill James wrote a book called The Politics of Glory. In this book, he points out a few things that voters look at. The black ink test, the gray ink test, Hall of Fame career standards test, and the Hall of Fame monitor.

Again, this factors in the human element more so than true output. This should be looked at on deciding if we think humans will vote Freddie in. We have to be honest here and realize that the truth is that humans look at these type of tests, whether they should or not.

The black ink test is based on how when a player leads a league in a stat, it is notated with bold black (like on baseball cards). There is a scoring that goes along with it.

For hitters

·         A player gets 4 points for leading the league in HRs, RBIs, or batting average

·         3 points are awarded for leading the league in Runs scored, Hits, or Slugging Percentage

·         2 points for leading in doubles, walks, or stolen bases

·         1 point for games played, at bats, or triples

It is important to note that this method penalizes more recent players since they play against 15 teams in their league versus 8 that the older players did. That being said, the average Hall of Fame 1st baseman has a black ink score of 27. Freeman currently sits at just 12. It is hard to see him reaching the average.

The grey ink score is the same scoring platform, but factors in top 10 finishes rather than leading the league. Same caveats as black ink as well. Freddie, being the king of consistency that he is, is much more on track with this metric with a 120 when the average Hall of Famer is at 144.

If you take out his first season since he only played 20 games, Freddie is averaging 12 grey ink points per year. At his current pace, he would get to about 228 points if he plays 20 seasons. Even if he regresses, which he will, he should meet the 144 average if he stays healthy. Again, this is even with more recent players having that earlier mentioned disadvantage of playing against more teams.

The next metric is the Hall of Fame monitor. Baseball Reference says it best when they say this metric, like the others, is an attempt to assess how likely a player is to make the Hall, not how deserving. It is important to realize these are different. In this particular metric, 100 means a player is most likely to make it, whereas 130 is a virtually guaranteed. It is important to note that former Atlanta Braves’ Fred Mcgriff has an exact 100 here and the highest vote count he got was 39.8 percent vote.

The metrics for hitters works like this:

·         2.5 points for each season with a batting average over .300

·         5 points for over .350,

·         15  points for over .400 (although that’s highly unlikely)

·         5 points for each season with than 200+ Hits (Freddie missed this by only 8 Hits in 2018)

·         3 points for each season with 100 RBI or Runs.

·         10 points for 50 HRs in a season

·         4 points for 40 HRs

·         2  points for 30 HR

·         2 points for 45 doubles

·         1  point for 35 doubles

·         8 points for winning MVP

·         3 points for each All-Star selection

·         1 point for Rookie of the Year

·         1 point for Gold Gloves

·         1 point for a World Series Win

·         6 points for leading the league in batting average

·         4 points for leading the league in HR or RBI

·         3 points for leading in runs

·         2 points for leading in hits or stolen bases

·         1 point for leading in doubles or triples

·         50 points for 3500 career Hits

·         40 points for 3000 hits

·         15 points for 2500 hits

·         4 points for 2000

·         30 points for 600 career HRs

·         20 points for 500

·         10 points for 400

·         3 points for 300.

·         24 points for lifetime batting average of .330

·         16 points for .315

·         8 points for .300

So far Freddie has accumulated 58 points. Freddie is currently right on pace to reach the 100 mark with a pace of 100.18. The great thing going in his favor is that he does not have any career milestone points factored in yet.

These metrics are far from perfect. They attempt to predict how likely a player, like Freddie Freeman are to be voted in, not show their true value

You may also notice that defense is not factored in too much. 1st base is the easiest position defensively, so it’s not like it would help Freddie that much.

Next. Will the Atlanta Braves be able to spend at the trade deadline?. dark

Other than the black ink test, it appears Freddie is slowly building a Hall of Fame case for himself if he can keep up the current pace, even with a little room for regression. He will need to stay healthy and not slow up too much, but there is absolutely a chance he could make it.