“I’ve got nothing left, really,” Freddie Freeman told reporters following the Braves’ 14-12 loss to the Cubs on Saturday. Freeman went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer and RBI double, but consider his extra-base efforts a rare silver lining. His left wrist has been bothering him since he fractured it on a hit-by-pitch back in May, and even after a lengthy stint on the disabled list, he appears to be losing strength at an alarming rate. “It feels like I’m swinging a wet newspaper,” he added.
It’s unclear how the Braves will proceed with their infielder, but it doesn’t look good for the remainder of Freeman’s season with the club. Despite continued efforts to build up strength in his wrist, his bat speed is “absolutely gone,” and with it, his power numbers against left-handed pitchers. Over 102 plate appearances against lefties, Freeman carries a .250/.343/.477 batting line and just five home runs, making Saturday’s two-run shot off of Chicago left-hander Jon Lester all the more impressive.
Overall, however, the 27-year-old has posted remarkable numbers in 2017, especially given the 47 days he missed due to injury. He slashed .311/.409/.602 with 23 home runs and a 1.011 OPS in 391 PA leading up to the loss this weekend, and while his 3.7 fWAR isn’t close to the career 6.1 mark he set in 2016, it’s enough to make him the most valuable hitter on the Braves’ roster this season. It’s clear that Freeman isn’t leaving anything on the field, but if the club expects a return to an MVP-level production rate in 2018, it might be time to try a more conservative approach while he works his way back up to full strength.