Dodgers

Dodgers: LA Star Shares Exact Process That Makes Him a Great Hitter

Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman shared his mindset for hitting while talking to the media at LA’s FanFest at Dodger Stadium this weekend.

Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman is one of the best hitters in baseball, leading MLB with 199 hits last year and coming within one point of leading the majors in batting average. He also led the NL in on-base percentage and had just a 14.4% strikeout rate. All in all, he’s almost everything in the batter’s box you’d want a hitter to be.

This weekend as LA’s FanFest celebration, Freeman was asked about his approach to hitting, and his answer is basically a masterclass in the art.

“I have a routine, a plan. For me it’s like you can tinker a swing, swing path, this and that, but if you don’t have an approach at the plate, your swing could be the best swing in the world, but you don’t have an approach. I don’t know, really, the success … that’s the hardest thing, I think, for young guys is to stick to the plan every single pitch, right? And that’s what I learned seven, eight years ago was this was my plan. I’m gonna stick with it. It’s gonna work and it, and that’s the hard thing for young guys to do.

“For me it’s like an 0-1 mindset, right? Like, that’s what I think, and drive the ball to left-center. It’s just, like, you try and keep the line moving. That’s what it is. I just love that. I love getting on base for the guys. Try and do everything you can. It’s not, you’re not a hitter, you’re a baseball player. There’s multiple facets of this game. Yeah. I just love to get up there and stick with my plan, which is left-center, and usually good things tend to happen.”

Hearing Freeman talk about sticking to his plan brings back memories of 2021, when Freeman’s Braves played the Dodgers. Freeman started the series by going 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts in the first two games. Prior to Game 3, a reporter asked Freeman what he was going to do to break out of the slump, and Freddie’s response was basically, “I’m gonna keep doing what’s worked for me for the last 11 years.” He went 6-for-13 with a 1.632 OPS the rest of the series.

Freeman continued this weekend with talk of his two-strike approach.

“The two strikes, I’m just trying to put the ball in play, really. I cut down — like, I already choke up to begin with a little bit, but then I’m really just like put the ball in play. Good things happen. I try and limit, as I’ve gotten older, my one goal every year is to strike out less than a hundred times. I was like 103 this past year, it was so infuriating. But that’s what I want to do. Even if you don’t get a hit, if you’re 0-for-1 but you reach on an error, you’re helping your team, there’s not much help going on if you walk back to the dugout. And it’s gonna happen. Believe me, we’re all gonna strike out. But the more times you put the ball into play, even if you’re getting on by an error, good things are happening. Make them make a play to get you out.”

So is Freeman changing his swing with two strikes?

“I don’t know if I’m changing my swing, I’m maybe changing my mentality. For me, it’s all mentality. It’s never a swing. The swing’s gonna be there. It’s like, some days you’re gonna feel good, some days you’re not. You can’t put your A swing out there every day. But you can control this every day. So if I have a mindset of driving the ball to left center, two strikes, hitting the ball on the ground, just putting it in play, make them make three plays — you know, they gotta catch it, throw it, and catch it again. So try and do that as best as you can. And if some young guys take to it, I think it’ll be better for everybody.”

Obviously, Freeman is immensely talented and it’s not quite as easy as just deciding to have that mindset. But there’s a ton that younger players (and even some older players) could learn from Freeman’s approach. In 2016, Freeman decided to be a power hitter, and while he hit 34 home runs, he also struck out a career-high 171 times. Last year’s 21 homers was kind of an anomaly, and he’ll probably hit more this year. But the approach that gave him 70 extra-base hits in 2022 will remain the same, and we’ll continue to watch in wonder as Freddie just keeps doing it, game after game.

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