Today’s Random Player From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is Bill Freehan.  Freehan was born in Detroit in 1941 and was signed by the Tigers out of the University of Michigan in 1961.  After a brief cup of coffee with the club he came up for good in 1963.  He was good sized (6’-3”, 200 lbs), a solid hitter with good patience and power as well as a good arm, Freehan was selected to 11 All-Star teams.  His peak years were in the 1960’s which were really rough on hitters, and as a result his numbers don’t look as impressive as one may think.  For example:

 

G                          Avg.       OBP       Slg.

155                         .263        .366        .454

141                         .300        .384        .573

 

The first line is Bill Freehan in 1968, the second is Mike Piazza in 2001.  On the surface, Piazza’s numbers are clearly better, but when you put them into context:

 

G                          Avg.       OBP       Slg.         OPS+

155                         .263        .366        .454        145

141                         .300        .384        .573        148

 

This is because 1968 was “The Year of the Pitcher”, while offensive numbers were outrageous in 2001:

 

Year                       LgAvg    LgOBP   LgSlg      RPG

1968                       .237        .299        .340        6.84

2001                       .261        .332        .427        9.56

 

The runs per game is for both teams.  The sport has repeatedly been treated as some timeless game that never changes, but the truth is that the change has been constant.  Part of this project has been developing a rating system comparing players to Hall of Famers at the same position.  On my short list of players that have not made the Hall but make a very strong case, Freehan makes that list.

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