Freddie Freeman’s Lost Legacy and Why Braves Are Better Off
The Atlanta Braves Are Better off With Matt Olson
Despite all the memories of the hugs, the smiles, the line drives, and the accolades, the Braves have moved on. We’ll take a quick look at how Freddie’s replacement compares to Freddie himself and why the Braves are really in a better place moving forward.
Take away the romanticism of Freeman being a hero to the Braves like Achilles was to the Myrmidons and let’s look at the numbers.
Matt Olson is here until he is 35 years old. Freeman is currently (likely) reaching the part of his career where he will begin to decline in the near future, while Olson is just getting started.
Matt Olson Has the Edge on Defense
Over 1,617 games Freddie has accumulated a total of 10 defensive runs saved. In just 38.8% of the games, Olson has amassed 35 defensive runs saved. We no longer have to say, “our first basemen DESERVES a gold glove” because our current one already has two.
Matt Olson had the Better Season in 2021
Last season, in his age-27 season, Olson blasted 35 doubles and 39 homers. He posted a career-high .371 OBP with a 153 OPS+. Even better than Freeman’s 134 OPS+ in 2021.
Olson and Freeman’s offensive stats were close last year, but Olson is four and a half years younger. He’s just entering his prime, which is outstanding considering everything he’s already accomplished.
Olson consistently finds himself among league leaders in exit velocity, but last season he nearly cut his K% in half over the previous year. Despite Freddie’s fantastic ability to draw walks, Olson walked at a higher percentage of plate appearances last year. Freddie posted a stellar 12.2% walk rate while Olson outdid him with a spectacular 13.1%.
WAR may not be perfect but it is a tool to measure OVERALL production. In 2021, Olson exceeded Freeman’s 4.7 WAR with a 5.8.
I haven’t even mentioned the insanity of Olson’s doubles this season.
Age and Contracts
These guys are both wonderful ball players. Taking the stats and age into consideration, the contracts seal the deal for me.
Freeman will turn 33 in September. Three years from now, five years from now… It may be pretty apparent that the Braves ended up in a better position. Freeman is making $27 million a year through the 2027 season, at which point Freddie will be 37.
Olson is making $15 million this year, $21 million next year, and will make $22 million over the next six years.
The Braves will pay him less per year, have him longer, and he’s younger.
How do you think this will play out? Do you believe the Braves are in a better position with Olson over Freeman? Share your thoughts in the comments.