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2020 in Review: Mike Freeman

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He did exactly what the Indians asked of him in 2020, and that was neat.

MLB: Cleveland Indians-Workouts Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Freeman went to Edgewater High School in Orlando, Florida. I, too, am from the Orlando area. I find this to be neat.

“Neat” is also the word I would use to describe Mike Freeman’s time with the Cleveland Indians. He hit .277/.362/.390 in 2019, though we all expected regression to the mean given his .388 BABIP. That came to pass during the plague-shortened 2020 season as he posted a .237/.302/.316 slashline while filling in at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and LF during the year. He was worth 0.0 fWAR and -0.2 bWAR in these endeavors.

I have absolutely no issue with a replacement-level utility guy who can fill in at five positions when necessary. It’s neat. He’s neat.

Here’s a picture of him as gorilla while riding a rhinoceros, courtesy of site member Stale Lips:

This, too, is neat, although I do not understand it.

He elected for Free Agency this offseason and may or may not return to Cleveland. Given that he’s either slightly-better-than or exactly replacement level, I don’t have any logical strong feelings about it. On an emotional level, I kind of want him to come back.

There’s something about continuity in a sports team that feels wholesome, and that extends all the way down the bench. Mike Freeman provides a pinch of “grit” to the team and he seems like an Overall Good Dude. If you doubt that, here is evidence.

Here is more.

Also, here is is getting a little bit philosophical about doubt, growth, and adversity, and how to reframe challenges and setbacks as opportunities on the Growth Project podcast.

Sure, the fact that a baseball player seems to be an All-Around Good Dude doesn’t justify his spot on a roster. The intangibles that come along with a player like Freeman might, though. We may never understand the value of being a good teammate well enough to account for it in advanced metrics, but you can tell when it is present.

If he moves on from Cleveland, I wish him the best. If he hangs around, I hope that ends up being for a couple more season, at least. Maybe longer: his mindset and approach to the game strike me as a the beginnings of a cornerstone for being a great mentor and coach.

I will leave you with Freeman’s best highlight from the 2020 season.

GRIT. UTILITY. NEAT.