Freddie Freeman: The Unexpected Dodgers’ Stealing Phenomenon

Freddie Freeman

Stealing Phenomenon

Forget the speedsters; 2023 is the year of Freddie Freeman. With 23 stolen bases, he’s now the Dodgers’ unexpected leading base stealer.

When you think of the LA Dodgers, you probably think of Mookie Betts, especially when considering stolen bases. Yet, Freeman, known more for his batting prowess than speed, is stealing the limelight, and bases. This isn’t accidental; it’s a calculated approach.

Freeman’s Formula for Success

  • Opportunity Creation: Freeman’s position as one of the best hitters globally means he’s often on base, providing numerous opportunities to steal.
  • Base Knowledge: His intelligence on when to run, and when not to, has been his key to success. The decision isn’t solely about raw speed.

I value 90 feet in this game. If a pitcher’s gonna give you 90 feet, you’ve got to be able to take it.

A Look at Freeman’s Sprint Speed Over The Years

YearSpeed (ft/sec)

League average: 27 ft/sec

Though Freeman isn’t the fastest player, he’s made significant improvements in base stealing since joining the Dodgers, with an impressive 23 steals this season. Notably, after getting caught on his first attempt, he successfully stole 23 bases consecutively.

But 90 feet – I value it very much. So if they’re gonna give it to me, I’m gonna take it.

How Does He Do It?

  • High On-Base Frequency: Naturally, as one of the game’s best hitters, Freeman often finds himself on base. His consistent presence on base means more opportunities to steal.
  • Learning Pitcher Cues: Freeman and first-base coach Clayton McCullough often study pitchers for patterns. Identifying slight behavioral cues like a head bob or a deep breath can provide Freeman with valuable intel on when it’s optimal to make his move.
  • Capitalizing on 2023’s Pickoff Limits: The recent rule change limits pitchers’ pickoff attempts, making it even easier for Freeman to seize a stealing opportunity.

Comparisons With Other Major Leaguers

While many players find themselves with over 300 stolen base opportunities, their responses vary. Some, like Acuña and Hoerner, make full use of their opportunities. Others, such as Rutschman and Lowe, rarely act on these chances.

Freeman, however, maintains a balanced approach. His approach reminds us of other power-hitting first basemen like Paul Goldschmidt, who averaged impressive stats between 2015-2017.

Key Tactics

  • Stealing off Predictable Pitchers: Freeman capitalizes on lefty relievers who often have predictable deliveries.
  • Running Against Slower Pitchers: Players known for being lax with controlling their run game, like Noah Syndergaard, are primary targets for Freeman’s steals.
  • Capitalizing on Slow Catchers: Catchers play a significant role in a base-stealing scenario. If a catcher is notoriously slow in reacting, Freeman doesn’t hesitate.
  • Taking Advantage of Defensive Gaps: Situations where a catcher is unlikely to throw down, like a first-and-third scenario, are golden opportunities for Freeman.

Playoff Challenges

Freeman faces stiff competition in the NLDS, particularly from D-backs catcher Gabriel Moreno. Yet, his impact might not only be limited to steals. His broad baserunning strategy isn’t solely about stealing bases but also involves strategic base advancements.

Freeman’s strategy revolves around a simple philosophy: seize every 90-foot opportunity presented. This tactical approach has positioned him as a leading base stealer, an unexpected but fitting title for such a versatile player.

Freeman’s Perspective

In a league where speed and agility are often celebrated, Freeman stands out by using intellect, strategy, and seizing opportunities. For him, it’s not just about being a base stealer, but being a comprehensive baseball player. Every move, every steal, and every run is a calculated decision, a testament to his dedication and passion for the game.

General Sport Observer Marc Defaou
reviewed by: Marc Defaou (Sport Expert)

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