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Braves beat reporter really wants you to know SABR/SABRE stinks and Freddie Freeman is good

Aug 26, 2013, 2:46 PM EST

This morning I saw this tweet from David O’Brien, the Braves beat reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Three things: One, the Society for American Baseball Research is SABR and the pretend printer company that was featured as a plotline in “The Office” is SABRE. Two, sabermetrics and SABR are very different things and few SABR members would have much to say about Freddie Freeman because Freddie Freeman did not play in the 1800s. Three, the whole tweet struck me as the beat reporter equivalent of a parent insisting their child is the cutest in the class.

All of which is why I was amused just now when O’Brien posted a second, updated version of his original tweet five hours later:

Well, at least those jerks at the pretend television printer company are off the hook now! Oh, and incidentally: Ultimate Zone Rating, which is the most-cited sabermetric defensive stat, rates Freeman as 1.7 runs above average this season.

  1. bobulated - Aug 26, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    O’Brien is a beat writer; it’s his job to be a jock sniffin’ brown-noser and to pump up his guys and to heck with those SABRE people!
    While Freeman is a solid defensive 1B who does a good job picking throws, making stretches as well as decently fielding the stuff he gets to he but he doesn’t have much more range than a potted tree.*

    * Said as Braves fan who watches their games.

  2. paperlions - Aug 26, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    Why do people have to act like the only alternative to “not good” is GG? GG means (or, at least, should me) best defensive player in his league at his position. Freeman is most certainly not the best defensive 1B in the NL. He’s fine, and has improved greatly over the last couple of years…but Gonzalez is far better, Rizzo is far better, Votto is better…no shame in simply being above average.

    • cohnjusack - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:07 PM

      Meh, that seems to be the reaction with everything.

      I can’t count how many times I’ve had basically this conversation

      ME: Jack Morris was overrated. No way he should go to the hall.

      THEM: Oh yeah, if Jack Morris sucked so much, how come he went to 5 all-star games, won 250 games and pitched for 18 years?

      Of course, pointing out that I never said Jack Morris sucked is futile. In many people’s word, there is no middle. You’re either saying he’s a HOF (same with Ryan Howard-MVP, Nolan Ryan-Greatest All-Time and countless others) or saying he sucks.

      • skerney - Aug 26, 2013 at 4:23 PM

        So basically you’re saying you think Jack Morris sucked.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 26, 2013 at 4:58 PM

        What’s your problem with Jack Morris? Did he insult your mom or something?

      • cohnjusack - Aug 27, 2013 at 9:00 AM

        He called her a boring old biddy and I’ll never forgive him.

      • louhudson23 - Aug 27, 2013 at 9:04 AM

        Because reactionary thinking is the way of our land….subtlety,nuance,depth of thought,discussion are frowned upon. Am I right or am I right?

  3. sc101071 - Aug 26, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    I don’t care to defend DOB on this, but when I refers to “SABRE folks” or “SABR folks” I’m pretty sure he means internet commenters/tweeters who argue against Freeman based solely on sabermetric defensive stats.

  4. smparsons - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    from the anal retentive department – SABRE could be an autocorrect for the airline reservation service. But, you point is correct – love his combo of strawmanning & martyr syndrome. Very attractive traits for a “reporter.”

  5. Joe - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Five people who don’t see Freddie Freeman play every day believe he’s a Gold Glover? Compelling!

    • Kevin S. - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      To be fair, fourteen people who don’t see the guys they’re voting for play every day decide who wins the GG.

      • proudlycanadian - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:23 PM

        How many gold gloves did Jeter win? Did he deserve them based on his fielding? Obviously, I did not see him play every day, but some statisticians appear to doubt that he deserved all of those Gold Gloves.

      • paperlions - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:39 PM

        PC, in addition to the statisticians, I am willing to be that almost any scout would also doubt that Jeter deserved those awards.

  6. kevinbnyc - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    If this is something he wanted to make a thing out of, why didn’t he just write a piece on it? Instead he limited himself to 140 characters and, thus, sounded (grammatically and topically) like a cave man.

  7. skerney - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    Three things: Many years ago, in a community college speech class, I was taught that people who begin unsolicited arguments with “Some folks say” or any variant thereof are usually full of crap.
    Two, I have rooted against the Braves my entire life and think Freddie Freeman is great. Three, I’ve heard many out of town people say unsubstantiated things.

    • paperlions - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:42 PM

      Some folks might say that you just made three good points.

  8. drewsylvania - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    Is this what journalism has sunk to, now? Taking a single tweet, which merely states a difference of opinion, and using it to express an overarching opinion about an organization? Whatever you think of O’Brien, all he’s saying in the tweet is “SABR says this, other people say that.”

    Lazy, snipery work that is all the rage these days in these parts. It’s as though you guys have quotas of so many posts per day, regardless of how terrible the content is.

    • raysfan1 - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:50 PM

      1) This is a blog, and the writers do not call themselves journalists.
      2) Craig used Freeman’s UZR to indicate that the premise, SABR-labeling of Freeman as bad, is false.

      I’ve actually never heard anyone say Freeman is a bad 1B. Perhaps O’Brien is the sort paperlions referred to above.

      • drewsylvania - Aug 26, 2013 at 4:16 PM

        It doesn’t matter what they call themselves. Shoddy conclusions are shoddy conclusions. It’s worse when you disseminate them to the public.

      • raysfan1 - Aug 26, 2013 at 4:54 PM

        You, I believe, are saying that of Craig. I’d say that is true of O’Brien and not of Craig.

      • dlf9 - Aug 26, 2013 at 5:42 PM

        Has anyone actually seen both Craig and Aaron in the same room at the same time? I mean other than reading the bylines, how do we know that there are two different people writing these blog posts? Since there is no definitive proof that it isn’t really a lonely fourteen year old eating doritos in his mommy’s basement pretending to be multiple writers, I strongly support readers mixing Aaron and Craig when commenting on their posts.

      • raysfan1 - Aug 26, 2013 at 6:18 PM

        Or in my case failing to read the byline.

        Sorry, Aaron.

      • drewsylvania - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:35 PM

        O’Brien’s tweet isn’t MAKING a conclusion. That’s the point.

  9. frightwig - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    My favorite response to O’Brien’s tweet: “Never really trust the SABR metric stuff. Seems to be too subjective. Freeman is a pretty good defensive 1B. Simple as that”

    • skerney - Aug 26, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      If you told me that response came from the mouth of Homer Simpson I’d believe it.

    • indaburg - Aug 26, 2013 at 7:34 PM

      I just smacked my head with my keyboard. Please tell me that person was joking.

  10. jjschiller - Aug 26, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    Well I watch the Braves everyday, and I’m not sure what I think of Freddie Freeman.

    He’s a bit of a statue on batted balls. But he picks better than any 1B I’ve watched with regularity. I understand that’s a very small part of his job, but it’s the thing he does best.

    He also gets every inch of his 6’6″ frame in to throws, doing a gymnast split. This is probably the absolute LEAST of his job, but it helps.

    He also receives tag throws well. I’d be surprised if the Braves DIDN’T lead the league in pickoffs (Medlen and Teheran both have incredibly fast feet) but Freddie receives the throws well, he doesn’t reach for them, he lets them travel to the bag.

    But I am here to tell you, if Freddie is +1.7 on defense, it’s because of his arm. The guy carries a rifle, he can thread a needle with it, and he uses it every chance he gets. I’ve never seen so many 3-6-3 double plays in a season, and it’s because Freeman and Simmons each have 95 mph heat on the infield.

    So. Bad at the big thing, range, (which is the most subjective to the naked eye, if you were to ask DOB and other “rah, rah Freddie” guys) and great at every small thing. I’d say that about adds up to a tick above average.

    • skerney - Aug 26, 2013 at 4:20 PM

      Isn’t carrying a rifle and being able to thread a needle required for residency in the state of Georgia?

      • daveitsgood - Aug 26, 2013 at 7:29 PM

        and a SABER

      • scubagolfjim - Aug 27, 2013 at 3:46 PM

        Well, either that or carry a shotgun and shred a needle.

    • dlf9 - Aug 26, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      I strongly agree with the comment about the strength of Freeman’s arm. He has one of the best of a 1B I’ve seen since Keith Hernandez’s prime.

      The splits are overrated. Let’s say that doing the splits increases his reach by two feet – which probably overestimates the distance. If so, that saves slightly more than 0.001 seconds if the ball is thrown at 80mph.

      As a Braves fan of many years, I would suggest that the best at scooping was Sid Bream. Like Freddie, he was a statue, but he had great hands. I also believe that Andres Galarraga had better hands than Freddie.

      • jjschiller - Aug 26, 2013 at 6:22 PM

        Not sure how much lower I could rate something than to call it “the least of his job,” but there you have it.

      • dlf9 - Aug 26, 2013 at 8:03 PM

        Sorry. I was commenting on the Joe & Chip commentary, not yours.

      • jjschiller - Aug 26, 2013 at 9:33 PM

        No biggie/

  11. djpostl - Aug 26, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    I like Freeman as a player and he is pretty reliable on anything he can get to but there is the rub.

    He has the range of a well-placed 55 gallon trash can.

    Anyone who thinks he is a Gold Glover is a joke.

    • louhudson23 - Aug 27, 2013 at 9:13 AM

      Range is great,but catching every throw that comes your way with good and effective footwork is just as valuable.Fielder confidence and maximum outs…and it isn’t like he can’t field the ball,he just doesn’t cover a lot of ground…..watching poor footwork and bad glove work is irritating and costly…..

  12. km9000 - Aug 26, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    “Tarzan, let’s start with you. Freeman as a first baseman.”
    “Freeman good.”
    “Mm hm. Tonto?”
    “Freeman good.”
    “All right. Frankenstein?”
    “Freeman BAD!”

    • km9000 - Aug 26, 2013 at 11:04 PM

      No old SNL fans? Jeepers.

  13. scdocal - Aug 26, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    Regardless of what people say of Freddie, many teams would kill to have him as their first baseman making close to league minimum. In fact he should get some MVP talk as well. Anybody that knows the Braves knows that DOB can be a tool but this writing calling out another team writer for his opinion is pretty crappy. Lets talk a out about Matt Harvey or Jeters comeback. Really, isn’t there better things to write about then this shit. And this writer better hope he doesn’t tweet out some stupid shit cause then that really makes u look like an ass

  14. s0krat3s - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:19 AM

    If anyone thinks that fielding throws from Dan Uggla as well as Freeman does is an “average” job then they need to get their eyes checked.

    Braves are 3rd in defensive efficiency in 2012, 5th in 2013. That isn’t just Simmons & Heyward contributing to that.

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