Posted July 22, 2014 04:59 pm

Freeman's Fish struggles based on spin

A fun storyline often mentioned during Braves games this season is Freddie Freeman's ineptitude against Marlins pitching. It obviously isn't fun to Freeman. But the fact that such a good hitter is struggling this much against one team raises eyebrows.


After Freeman went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts against the Marlins on Monday, he's now 2 for 41 with 15 strikeouts in 44 plate appearances against Miami this year. For a career .285/.362/.468, .360 wOBA/129 wRC+ hitter, that's a little ridiculous, even with the small sample size. It makes one wonder if the Marlins know something other teams haven't picked up on.


That actually might be the case.


Freeman has seen an average of 60 percent fastballs, 27 percent breaking balls and 13 percent offspeed pitches this season. Against the Marlins, he has seen an average of 45 percent fastballs and 44 percent breaking balls. Miami pitchers are basically throwing him the same amount of fastballs and breaking balls, meaning he's getting an incredibly heavy dose of sliders and curveballs.


Freeman's average swing percentage on breaking balls this season is 40 percent. He's swinging at 50 percent of breaking pitches from the Marlins. As you might expect, he's whiffing on more of those swings, too. His average whiff per swing on breaking balls this season is 35 percent. Against the Marlins, it's 43 percent.


It's not that Freeman is getting worse against spin. He's the same as he was the past three seasons. He's not even seeing more of that type of pitch overall against the rest of MLB. Freeman is just getting far more breaking balls against the Marlins, he's had to be more aggressive against the pitch, and that has led to more whiffing.


I don't know what caused the Marlins to attack Freeman so heavily with spin. And I admit it's a small sample size of 10 games. This might be a lazy conclusion. But the pitch percentages are so far off the averages, and his results against the Marlins are equally off, it makes this an interesting story.


The Braves play the Marlins three more times this week and nine more times this season. Pay attention to Miami's pitch selection against Freeman. If the pitchers go spin heavy against him the rest of the way compared to other teams, there could be something to their approach against one of Atlanta's best hitters.