Welcome to another installment of Mortal Kombat, where we take two evenly matched players and have them square off against each other to find out who the better man is. This week we feature two potential first round draft picks, one a fierce veteran and the other a fiery youngster coming into his own. If this were the 2013 draft Votto would be the easy choice, but judging by the results of early mock drafts; Freeman isn’t gonna go down without a fight.
Unfortunately we can’t afford to have Michael Buffer do the introductions anymore as I blew our entire budget having him do the first two installments which you can read Here and Here. So for this week I reluctantly present to you….Beavis & Butthead.
Butthead: Baseball is cool.
Beavis: Yea yea, baseball’s cool. Remember that time we played frog baseball.
Butthead: Uhhh, yea….that was Cool! uhh-huh-huh
Beavis: and Steward saw us and he was like NOOOOOooo! eeehh-heehee-huh
Butthead: Yea, Stewart’s a wuss!
Excuse me guys, can you get to the introductions. Just read the script.
Butthead: uhhhh, you want me to read something? uhh-huh-huh No way…dumbass.
Beavis: Yea, no way dumbass eehh-heehee-huh I am Cornholio. Do you have any TP?
Oh forget it, I’ll do it myself.
In the Red corner, he has been a major league player for 6 full seasons. He was the international leagues rookie of the year in 2007 and is the owner of a golden glove award and two Ernie Lombardi MVP Awards, standing 6’2” and weighing in at 220 pounds, representing the Cincinnati Reds…Joey Votto.
And in the blue corner, he has been a major league player for 3 full seasons. He was the international leagues rookie of the year in 2010 and holds numerous player of the week and month awards, standing 6’5” and weighing in at 225 pounds, representing the Atlanta Braves…Freddie Freeman
Votto has a career batting average of .314 and has never hit below .300 with the exception of 2008 (.297). His splits are practically nonexistent as Votto is a .300 hitter both home and away. His average drops dramatically to .293 against left handers, but we won’t hold that against him. With the exception of a .286 average with RISP with 2 outs, Joey is a virtual lock to hit .300 and is one of the most consistent average hitters in the league.
Freeman holds a career batting average of .285 which was brought up by the .319 he batted in 2013. Just like Votto he’s a .300 hitter against right handed pitchers, but that number comes down against lefties. He has a career line of .257 against south paws but started to figure things out in 2013 where he hit .287 against them. He had a similar problem with his road average (.269), but after hitting .295 last year he seems to have turned the corner.
If Freeman can maintain the improvements he made on the road and against lefties he could very well be just as good as Votto, but until we know that and see consistency from year to year Votto holds the edge.
ADVANTAGE – VOTTO
Votto showed in the minors that he had some wheels and was projects to be the kind of stolen base threat Paul Goldschmidt has turned into. He did steal 16 bases in 2010, but other than that his highest total was 8 in 2011. Since he has only stolen 11 bases over the past two seasons I think it’s safe to say Votto’s running days are over. Freeman’s highest total in the minors was 6 and he hasn’t stolen more than 4 in the majors. He may get you a handful at best, and that is what Votto is averaging now.
ADVANTAGE – NONE
Freeman has been very steady his first three years. He hit 21 home runs in 2011 and 23 in each of the next two years, and his at bats were fairly close for these three years. Votto had two huge years in 2010 & 2011 when hit 37 and 29 home runs respectively, but over the other 4 he’s averaged just 24 home runs.
Freeman’s career ISO of .181 is right in line with his 2013 totals, and he has never had an ISO higher than .206 in his entire major and minor league career. He has a career fly ball percentage of 35.6% and a home run to fly ball ratio of 14.7%. Votto has a career ISO of .227 and while this number was down to .186 in 2013, it was .209 or higher every year going back to his debut in 2007. His fly ball percentage of 33.5 is slightly lower than Freeman’s, but the 18.8% home run to fly ball ratio is 4 points higher.
Their average fly ball distances last year were almost identical with Freeman coming in at 293.57 feet while Votto average 293.50. Votto averaged 300.75 feet in 2012 and 295.17 feet in 2011 while freeman’s average distance in 2012 was 288.96 feet and 292.56 feet in 2011.
Votto will hit a few less balls in the air but a higher percentage of them leave the park. He has more raw power than Freeman and yet his home run totals are fairly similar. Votto’s average fly ball distance has been higher in the past, but he’s reached somewhat of a plateau for his career. While Freeman’s average distance was slightly lower the prior two years he held his own against Votto in 2013. The numbers say Votto is the logical safe choice but you have to take into consideration the improvements Freeman has shown along with his upside and potential. For home runs, you can’t go wrong with either player.
ADVANTAGE – NONE
RUNS BATTED IN
Having a stable spot in the middle of the lineup seems to work for Freeman. He totaled 94 RBIs in 2012 and 109 in 2013. His lowest totals were during his first full season in 2011, but 76 isn’t bad from a rookie being shuffled all over the batting order. He had 87 RBIs his final year at AAA, and that was under 500 at bats. Heyward & Upton started the season hitting second and third, and I expect both to be better than they were last year so there is no reason to believe Freeman won’t be able to put up numbers somewhere between what’s he’s done the past two years.
Votto went from averaging in the 80’s for his first two seasons up to the 100’s the next two. The past two years though he only had 56 and 73 RBIs. Granted the 56 was in an injury year, but even if you extrapolate the numbers over a full season you get around 80 or so depending on the number of at bats. You would think a guy with a batting average like his would do more damage in this department, but that just hasn’t been the case. Is Votto a 100 RBI guy or were those 2 seasons a result of everything clicking on the Reds at the same time. Votto may be the man when it comes to batting average, but Freeman has his number on this one.
ADVANTAGE – FREEMAN
Freeman only scored 67 runs his first year, but just like with RBIs it was mostly due to being shuffled around and not having a stable spot in the lineup. The past two years he has scored 91 and 89 runs. Freeman’s walk percentage has remained steady the past two years at 10.4%. His OBP the first two years in the league was .346 and .340, but this year it went up to .396. We’re in a holding pattern as far as his batting average goes, but if he can repeat his numbers from last year he should be able to reach the 90 run plateau..
Votto has scored over 100 runs in three of the past four seasons. The big reason for this (other than his .300 average) is his walks. Starting with 2010, Votto has 91, 110, 94 and 137 walks, and a 19% walk percentage the past two years. Votto’s OBP hasn’t been below .414 since his rookie year. Combine those factors with a superior batting average and Phillips and Bruce hitting behind him and it’s hard to argue against Votto scoring less than 100 runs.
ADVANTAGE and WINNER – VOTTO
This decision may not sit well with the Freeman supporters and while your players was not the victor, consider this a moral victory. For years Votto was considered a first round draft pick and judging by our Twelve First Round Draft Picks segment a few weeks ago, some of our staff still believe he warrants a first round selection. Freeman has gone from being someone selected in the 9th/10th round in 2011 to a person of consideration at the end of the first round. Looking at couch managers ADP, Votto, Encarnacion, Fielder and Freeman are being selected with the 12th, 13th, 15th and 17th pick respectively so both players are in very god company.
Freeman may actually turn out to be the better player of the two by years end. He is only 24 years old so there is still room for growth and improvement. As I mentioned above Freeman made great strides with his batting average against lefties and on the road and has shown slight improvement in the walks department each year. The big question is, can he maintain an average close to .300? A few experts will point to his .371 BABIP last year and say the average can’t be sustained, but considering Votto’s BABIP last year was .360 (1 point off his career average) he very well could.
Votto is the safe and logical choice, you know exactly what you’re going to get. There is no question about his ability to hit for average or score runs and you know you will get around 25 home runs. Freeman should put up similar numbers, but those numbers could go higher or lower depending on if those improvements he made stick. There is a slight risk in taking Freeman over Votto, but that risk is small in comparison to the possible reward. If you’re drafting for a keeper or dynasty league Freeman is your man, but in redraft leagues your choice should be Votto.
The fun thing about fantasy is, I’m sure there is someone out there right now saying the exact opposite of what I just said.
Do you have a few players that you would like to see featured here? Just leave your suggestions in the comments section below or send them to me on twitter @TheJimFinch