LOS ANGELES — The hit trickled through the infield, and Freddie Freeman found new ground.
The Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman, a paragon for consistency, enjoys hits. A lot.
“Hits mean a lot to me,” Freeman said earlier this summer, when he crossed the threshold of 2,000 for his career. A shot at 3,000 is something he’s spent at least some time mapping out.
But despite his steadfast approach, willingness to be in the lineup every day and desire to hunt hits, he had never collected 200 hits in a season. Until Friday, when he stayed on a two-strike slider from Giants left-hander Sean Manaea and dribbled one through in the first inning.
Dodger Stadium gave Freeman an ovation as he doffed his helmet at first base. Home-plate umpire and crew chief Laz Diaz secured the bat and the ball was tossed to the home dugout for safekeeping.
A record-breaking year for Freddie. pic.twitter.com/ZnLUgdw4HS
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 23, 2023
A year ago, his first season in Los Angeles, he’d come up one hit short.
There hadn’t been a 200-hit season since 2019. Now, he’s crossed the mark with nine games to spare, joining former Atlanta Braves teammate Ronald Acuña Jr. and Miami Marlins’ Luis Arraez as the only players with that many this season (and, at this pace, the only ones to reach the mark). It’s the most players to reach 200 hits in a season in the majors since 2017.
The Dodgers hadn’t had a 200-hit season since Adrián Beltré, in 2004. Just six other Dodgers have done it since the franchise moved to Los Angeles, with Steve Garvey accomplishing it six different times himself.
It’s yet another milestone in what might be the best offensive season Freeman has produced over a full, 162-game season in his career. His 160 OPS+ entering Friday was the highest he’s had outside of his MVP season in an abridged 2020 campaign. He’s within striking distance of becoming the first player since World War II to log 60 or more doubles in a single season. He’s swiped bases at a career-best rate.
Once again, he’ll find himself near the top of MVP ballots.
That, combined with his position, has put him in unique territory. He’s now one of 31 players (and logged one of 33 seasons) ever for a player with at least 200 hits, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a single season. None of the other players to previously do it were primarily first basemen.
(Photo: Meg Oliphant / Getty Images)