Freeman, Donaldson Have Led Braves' Turnaround

Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson have guided the Braves to a comfy lead in the NL East

Ferrall On The Bench
July 17, 2019 - 8:59 am
Josh Donaldson Freddie Freeman Atlanta Braves

On May 9, The Atlanta Braves (58-38) lost, 3-2, in extras to Arizona to fall to 18-20 on the season. Since then, they are 40-18 and lead the Nationals (50-43) by 6.5 games in the NL East.

The bats are a big reason why. Atlanta has hit 151 home runs this season – third in the NL to the Brewers and Dodgers, who have both hit 161.

“I know everybody can hit them in baseball now, but this team’s ability to hit home runs has absolutely changed what they can do night in and night out,” Atlanta’s 680 The Fan host Chris Dimino said on Ferrall on the Bench. “They’re as good as anybody in the 7th, 8th and 9th inning. Run differential is nice. I’m more of what do you do close in late games?”

Three Braves – Freddie Freeman (25), Ronald Acuna Jr. (23), and Josh Donaldson (21) – have hit at least 20 home runs this season. Donaldson, who signed a one-year, $23 million deal with the Braves in the offseason, has been a wonderful acquisition.

“He has a chance to be the most impactful player for the rest of the season,” Dimino said. “He has the ability to carry you three nights out of six. At $23 million, it was, ‘Why are you giving this guy the money?’ Boy, has the tune changed over the last month.”

Freeman, meanwhile, leads the Braves in average (.299), home runs, RBI (74), OBP (.385) and hits (112). He’s also become the leader of the clubhouse, just as Chipper Jones was when he played for Atlanta.

“He’s 29 years old, he was the oldest starter of the eight for the National League this year – he is sort of an elder statesman in baseball as teams are skewing younger,” Dimino said. “Chipper was much more emotional. Chipper absolutely wore it on his sleeve much more than Freddie. What Freddie, I think, is willing to do is not let anything affect him. If he has two punch-outs, I don’t think it affects him the third at-bat. I think he got comfortable in his own skin.”

As hot as the Braves have been, Dimino believes they need to add a starting pitcher before the deadline, especially if they run into the Dodgers in the postseason.

“Last year was fun,” he said. “It was a nice surprise. Ninety wins, nobody saw it coming. This team has a chance to be better. But I’m not sure you can do it with Dallas Keuchel and a 21-year-old Mike Soroka. I’d like to see one more arm to try to go into a series like that.” 

Click below to listen to Dimino’s interview in its entirety.