Based on ZiPS projections, Tyler Freeman is expected to finish 2023 with the following stats:
98 G, 437 PA, 4 HR, 6 SB, 5.0% BB%, 11.7% K%, .263/.328/.349, 97 wRC+, 1.8 fWAR
Read what our writers think, then vote in the poll below and drop your own opinions in the comments and on the Covering the Corner Discord.
Matt Lyons’s prediction: OVER
I’m a firm believer in Tyler Freeman’s ability to make contact and surpass some expectations this season (probably more than most people are), so this is an over prediction for me — but not by much.
My rough prediction would be more plate appearances — cementing himself somewhere for more than 98 games — and maybe 110-115 wRC+ with an on-base percentage closer to what he was putting up in the minors and even a bit more slugging as he’s a growin’ boy, after all. An impressive enough first full season that doesn’t necessarily get him national recognition, but solidifies another position for the Guardians (post-trade Amed Rosario, perhaps?).
There isn’t much major-league work to go off of yet, seeing as Freeman technically played 24 games last season but spent a lot of time filling in at random positions as needed over the last month. But even with the sporadic playing time, he managed to squeeze a seven-game hitting streak in there from Aug. 26 to Sept. 12. In that streak he played third base, second base, and shortstop. He was also a late-game pinch-hitter against the Mariners once.
All trepidation towards Freeman is understandable at this point — we barely saw anything from him last year, and he finished with a meager.247/.314/.286 slash. Even before he made the jump to the majors, he wasn’t exactly crushing the ball in Triple-A, with a .279/.371/.364 slash (104 wRC+) in Columbus. But I find some encouragement in his 12.8% strikeout rate and 85.5% contact rate — 33rd among 498 batters with at least 80 PA last year. His CSW%, which is a combination of his swinging strikes and called strikes, was 22.9%, or 21st lowest in the league.
Freeman will need to hit the ball harder to really stick, but the early returns show a 23-year-old not immediately overwhelmed by the major-league level. With the recent news that he is going to be working out in the outfield (alongside his main competitor for playing time, Gabriel Arias), he has a decent shot at getting plate appearances somewhere, and he’s going to make enough contact to fit anywhere.
Will Tyler Freeman finish with an fWAR over or under 1.8?
This poll is closed
Tomorrow’s player: Josh Bell