MLB Film Room is a wonderful place, a seemingly infinite archive of baseball highlights that you can use, for free, to discover any recent play that you might want to watch. I used it today, however, for research purposes, after hearing a statistic that made me raise my eyebrow and tilt my head so far, out of pure bewilderment and curiosity, that I couldn't help but look into it further.
It was a statistic that the announcers on the Bally Sports South Braves broadcast read that shows just how locked in one superstar — first baseman Freddie Freeman — really is right now, one that the typical stats might indicate but won't tell you outright. The stat was that Freeman, in his last 23 plate appearances, had not swung at a pitch and not made contact. I repeat: Freddie Freeman had not swung and missed at a pitch in the last 23 times that he came to the plate (h/t Knockahoma Nation).
I couldn't believe it, and so I went to MLB Film Room to check when the last swing-and-miss took place. And not counting the All-Star Game, here it was: a strikeout against Marlins pitcher Pablo Lopez in the first inning of a July 11 game.
He went through the rest of that game without swinging and missing at a pitch, recording a double and a walk in the process. Then came the All-Star Break. And then there was a three-game series against the Rays, with the following Tampa Bay pitchers generating at least one swinging strike during the series, according to Baseball Reference:
- Michael Wacha (5)
- Drew Rasmussen (8)
- Matt Wisler (6)
- Pete Fairbanks (5)
- Josh Fleming (3)
- J.P. Feyereisen (7)
- Jeffrey Springs (6)
- Rich Hill (8)
- Andrew Kittredge (2)
- Collin McHugh (3)
That's 53 swinging strikes that the Rays' pitchers caused for the Braves hitters, and not one of them came from Freeman. And then, on Tuesday night, Freeman swent up against Yu Darvish three times and Austin Adams once, and again did not swing and miss on any of their pitches.
I know this because, along with what the announcers have told us, you can go on MLB Film Room and filter out every clip they have where Freeman is the batter and the result of a pitch is a swinging strike. That clip above, where Pablo Lopez got the best of Freeman, is the most recent incident. Wild.
I genuinely do not know how impressive this streak is relative to what other players have done throughout the history of the game. I don't know if there are streaks that make this one seem particularly unnoteworthy, or if this streak is a record. It could be either one, and I'll have to do some more research. But to not at least acknowledge that Freeman had done this, and could extend it further, before it eventually comes to an end seemed wrong. So here we are.
Next time you see Freeman do something as simple as swing and miss at a pitch, know that it's a fairly extraordinary event based on recent happenings.