How Freddie Freeman is evolving at the plate after slow start for 2024 Dodgers

Texas Rangers v Los Angeles Dodgers
Texas Rangers v Los Angeles Dodgers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Father Time is undefeated, but the best hitters can evade such wrath by slightly adjusting their game towards certain strengths.

While Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman is certainly a few years away from illustrating any real decline, his advanced stats show a player who is attempting to stay on the top of his game despite a slow start.

Freeman struggled early this season. During an April homestand, the 34-year old went 3-for-27 with one double and two singles. He was 1-for-15 against fastballs during this stretch and was struggling to get his swing right.

“My hip’s gone,” Freeman said at the time, “Which causes everything, my whole swing to cut. I’m in the zone for at least two inches — that’s about it.”

The Villa Park native has picked up his play. He’s batting .298 through the first 70 games of the season with an .898 OPS. While these marks are down from what he posted in 2023, there is still time for Freeman to return to vintage form. But how he accomplishes that could look different.

The advanced stats show that Freeman has been slightly different in 2024

Presently, Freeman holds a walk rate of 13.4%. This is the highest percentage since his MVP season in 2020, and has come while seeing the most pitches per plate appearance of his Dodgers tenure. Additionally, he’s sporting the lowest barrel% of his career and his lowest XBA since 2016.

Freeman has been playing better baseball — he’s hitting .352 across his last 10 games, and he’s seemingly been doubling down on contact instead of chasing power. Of course, a player will always attempt to “square one up” when the opportunity presents itself, but it's not a stretch to say that Freeman is evolving with his abilities.

The seven-time All-Star has always had a knack for getting on base, and his slow start may have encouraged him to get back to basics. Even if Freeman does not bash 30 home runs this season, his willingness to take this kind of approach could be useful with hitters like Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, and Teoscar Hernandez in the lineup.