Freddie Freeman wants to be a Brave “forever”

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Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was in the company of Chipper Jones when the former Braves third baseman received the phone call informing him that he had been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. At Chop Fest over the weekend, Freeman told Fox Sports South that Jones has rubbed off on him.

Freeman said, “[Jones] never wanted to be a free agent. He was loyal and that rubs off on me. I want to be here forever. Hopefully, I can follow in his path. I don’t know if I’ll ever do what he did, but hopefully, I can be here for the rest of my career.”

Freeman, 28, signed an eight-year, $135 million contract extension in February 2014. Four years and $86 million are remaining on that deal, meaning he will be 32 when his contract expires. He’s been remarkably productive over the course of his eight-year career and particularly in the last two seasons during which he has posted a .968 and .989 OPS. Still, whether Freeman remains a Brave into his mid- and late-30’s really depends on his ability to stay healthy — he’s played in fewer than 120 games in two of the last three seasons — and remain productive.

Which is why it’s not the smartest thing to pledge one’s loyalty to a team because that loyalty isn’t reciprocal. If Freeman’s health declines and/or his offense wanes, the Braves won’t think twice about letting him become a free agent or trading him should a tempting offer come along. Being so open about his loyalty to the Braves hurts his leverage if he were to negotiate another contract extension or a new contract when his current one expires. It also creates an expectation among other players to act in a similar fashion, reducing player leverage across the sport. The sentiment is nice, but the MLBPA should help players find the right phrasing to express their happiness and gratitude with their situations.

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers - Game Two
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the first couple of rows of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds hit an MLB-record 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Roger Maris Jr. said Wednesday night after his father’s mark was matched by Judge. “I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge had homered only once in the past 13 games, and that was when he hit No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row played since Aug. 5.

After a single in five at-bats in the first game Tuesday, Judge was 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and began the day trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315.

The home run in his first at-bat put him back to .311, where he had started the day before dropping a point in the opener.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”