Real or not? Freddie Freeman is the best hitter in baseball

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George Brett would later recall his 1980 season, when he hit .390 and chased .400 into late September, this way: “I was 27 and in the prime of my life.”

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is 27 years old and he’s hitting better than Brett did that magical summer when he produced a slash line of .390/.454/.664. After going 2-for-4 with his 14th home run in Tuesday’s win for the Atlanta Braves Jersey, Freeman is at .343/.457/.754 and it’s a beautiful thing to watch — this tall, lanky guy with the sweet swing swatting baseballs all over the place. Is there such a thing as being in the zone? We know announcers and players talk all the time about hot streaks, but are those merely random fluctuations of performance, or can athletes really achieve these higher levels when they seem to reach a state of invincibility?

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Trout: .447

Game Steve Baron Jersey Votto: .447

Kids Steve Baron Jersey Freeman: .443

: .425

: .419

Your leaders in extra-base hits:

Freeman: 95

: 84

Nolan Arenado Jersey: 84

Brian Dozier Jersey: 83

Mookie Betts Jersey: 82

Freeman is the only guy to appear on both lists. Here he is turning on a pitch on Tuesday:

You can’t stop @FreddieFreeman5, you can only hope to contain him.

— MLB (@MLB) May 16, 2017

The amazing thing about Freeman’s stretch is this MVP level of play didn’t actually emerge until last June. On June 12, he had dropped to .242 with nine home runs. It took him 302 at-bats to hit 14 home runs last year; this season, he did it in 133. His turnaround, he told in spring training, started when he changed his approach in batting practice:

“I have zero idea why I hit more home runs last year,” Freeman said. “I changed my batting practice in June by trying to hit line drives to the shortstop, and it turned my whole season around. I wasn’t trying to lift anything or do anything any different. I was just trying to stay on the ball and stay inside the ball and maybe backspin it a lot more.”

Can it flip just like that? Can a good hitter became great with a change in pregame routine? Baseball isn’t supposed to be that easy. A key factor is that Freeman was always an all-fields hitter, but now he has tapped into his power. Similar to Miguel Cabrera Jersey, he’s a good hitter with power, as opposed to just a power hitter. His opposite-field home run totals are similar to peak Cabrera:

Freddie Freeman Jersey's spray chart since last June 13 (he's hit .341/.444/.690 since then):

— David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield) May 17, 2017

A few years ago, the Braves signed Freeman to a long-term extension, deciding to build around him rather than , as Jerry Crasnick recently wrote. Now, about the rest of the team …

If the Braves weren't the worst team in baseball Freddie Freeman Jersey would be famous and stuff.

— Logan Booker (@LoganMBooker) May 16, 2017

K-Rod gonna K-Rod One of the best games of the season in Detroit, a wild 13-11 win for the Orioles. — scorching hot since his return — hit a grand slam in the seventh to give the Tigers an 8-7 lead. The Detroit bullpen had tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, but it needed 6 2/3. tied it up with a two-out home run off Justin Wilson Jersey.

An interesting moment came in the bottom of the 11th. The Tigers had runners at second and third, one out, Justin Upton Jersey at the plate with Martinez on deck. Some managers would have walked Upton here to set up a double play, even with a hot hitter at the plate. Buck Showalter made the right move: Pitch to Upton and hope for the strikeout. Alec Asher Jersey did fan Upton, and then Donnie Hart got on a fly ball to right.

The Orioles would then score three runs in the 12th. Over the past five seasons, teams leading by three-plus runs in extra innings are 129-0. But the Tigers rallied to tie it up! Enter exiled closer Francisco Rodriguez Jersey for the 13th. Exit, baseball. Chris Davis Jersey slugs a two-run homer and Rodriguez picks up his fifth loss. Wilson has actually been terrific this year — five hits, 28 K’s in 17 innings — but do you see the Tigers winning with this bullpen? I don’t know. And I wonder how many more games K-Rod has left in a Tigers uniform …

Chris Davis Jersey: 2nd player to hit 2 HR in the 12th inning or later of a game. First- , 2013 Cardinalsvia @eliassports

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 17, 2017

The Rangers are .500, and that’s a minor miracle No, really, it is. Not because the Rangers weren’t supposed to be good, but because of how bad they’ve played and how many things have gone wrong. Check out Tuesday’s lineup. The only player with an OBP over .325 was backup catcher Robinson Chirinos Jersey. Sam Dyson Jersey blew like 48 saves the first week. Cole Hamels Jersey is on the DL. is still on the DL. But now they’ve won seven in a row! Yu Darvish Jersey beat the Phillies 5-1 with one of the most efficient games of his career: He threw 70 strikes out of 95 pitches, the second-highest rate of strikes in his career. And here’s why the Rangers are .500: They have the best rotation ERA in the majors at 3.38.

Now for the bad news:

Rangers have won 7 games in a row but gained only one-half game on Astros in that time. They were 8.5 out at start of streak, and now 8 out.

— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) May 17, 2017

Speaking of Darvish, note this column by Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He points out that Rangers GM Jon Daniels was recently in Japan, apparently checking out Shohei Otani, who is on the DL over there, but working out with his club’s minor league team. Note that Otani and Darvish are friends and offseason training partners. Note that Darvish is a free agent and Otani may be posted this winter. Wilson speculates that the Rangers could have an inside track to signing Otani if they also re-sign Darvish.

Play of the day: Kyle Schwarber Jersey helps Joe Maddon win his 1,000th career game with this monster blast that nearly left Wrigley Field:

[email protected] launches one 462 feet.Longest HR of his career: ?Longest @Cubs HR of 2017: ? #Statcast

— #Statcast (@statcast) May 17, 2017

What has been wrong with the Cubs? Check out our roundtable discussion.

There was also this Corey Dickerson Jersey home run. Seems like 449 is a little conservative:

See those trees out there in [email protected] hit it OVER them – 449 feet away. #Statcast

— #Statcast (@statcast) May 17, 2017

He’s baaaaaaaaaaackkkkkkkk … Umm, Craig Kimbrel Jersey is destroying hitters again after a shaky (for him) 2016 season. Check out the past 18 batters he has faced:


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For the season, he has fanned 54.8 percent of the batters he has faced, which would top his previous career best of 50.2 percent in 2012.

Quick thoughts … Eddie Matz writes that Ryan Zimmerman Jersey doesn’t want to hear about your launch angles. … Rob Arthur of FiveThirtyEight with an interesting look at the “fly ball revolution” and how it’s not necessarily the right approach for all hitters. … The Mariners demoted Edwin Diaz as closer after four walks on Monday, and new closer Steve Cishek Jersey promptly served up a two-run homer to Oakland’s Matt Joyce Jersey to blow a 5-4 lead. … The Pirates look pretty hopeless these days. They’ll be sellers in July, but Andrew McCutchen Jersey’s trade value is minimal right now. … The Rockies take the first game of the big Rockies-Twins series. Yes, you heard that right. I watched much of this game, and I’d say Kyle Freeland was effectively wild. The trouble is he gets almost no strikeouts with his sinker, so his slider is his only strikeout pitch. He doesn’t throw his changeup much, which is probably the pitch he’ll need to develop. Charlie Blackmon Jersey has four three-hit games in his past nine games and is third in the majors in extra-base hits. The Rockies are fun, my friends.

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