Freddie Freeman’s first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers was a success as the former MVP is likely going to be one of the MVP finalists in the National League. Freeman finishes the 2022 campaign with the league lead in hits, runs scored, doubles and on-base percentage.
Freeman also entered the last season of the month with a good shot at the NL batting title, which would be the first time he accomplished the feat in his career. However, a brief cold spurt put Freeman behind New York’s Jeff McNeil, who entered the last day of the regular season with a .326 batting average.
With Freeman just four points behind, the New York Mets decided to make the soft decision of sitting McNeil in their season finale against the Washington Nationals. This stacked the deck against Freeman, who had to go 4-4 or better (and reach 200 hits in the process) in order to surpass McNeil.
Freeman made it close, but ultimately fell short with a 3-4 game against the Colorado Rockies to finish with a .325 batting average. His lone out was a 101 MPH flyball to deep centerfield that just missed leaving the yard. Much to the chagrin of Dodger fans, this prompted a curtain call for McNeil across the country.
The Dodgers would have never made this choice with Freddie Freeman.
Freddie Freeman is the type of player that wants to be out there every single day, which is evident by the fact that he played in 159 games this season and led the league in plate appearances. In fact, he logged 119 more plate appearances than McNeil did this season.
The Dodgers could have sat Freeman or given him limited at-bats in this last meaningless week. It certainly would have helped as Freeman went a combined 0-12 in games 159-161. If Dave Roberts would have given Freeman one fewer at-bat in each of those games then he would be the batting champion right now.
And if Freeman was in the lead heading into Sunday Dodgers fans know that he would have been pounding on Doc’s door to get him in the lineup. Roberts would not have openly discussed how he was sitting Freeman so he could win the batting title, which is what Buck Showalter did.
At the end of the day, maybe this is a blessing for the Dodgers. Trea Turner won the batting title last season and the Boys in Blue fell short of winning it all. In fact, the NL batting champion has not won the World Series since 2012 when Buster Posey did it for San Francisco.
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Before that, the last NL batting champion to win the World Series was Tommy Davis back in 1963 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Davis, like McNeil, finished the season with a .326 batting average.