David Freese is delivering considerably better offensive production from the third base position than the St. Louis Cardinals received in 2009.
What a difference a year makes.
12 months ago, the St. Louis Cardinals third base position was in shambles. Troy Glaus was hurt, out indefinitely and Brian Barden and Joe Thurston had returned to their past selves following brief periods of success. Newcomer David Freese had long been dispatched to Triple-A Memphis and was dealing with injuries of his own. Mark DeRosa was later acquired, but soon hit the disabled list, too.
Eight different players had a piece of the job last season, but none of them did much with it. As a result, the Cardinals’ productivity from the position was the lowest of any of the non-pitching spots in the lineup. Not what one expects from third base.
Coming into 2010, Freese had much to prove. He started quickly, but so did Barden last year. The latter actually won the National League Rookie of the Month in April, something Freese did not achieve this year.
The difference is that Freese is continuing to excel, and hasn’t demonstrated any signs of the dropoff shown by the 2009 players.
As an illustration, I am listing the full-season 2009 production from the Cardinals’ third base position. Next are Freese’s results this season to date. I then projected his 2010 actuals to the same 655 plate appearances the third basemen had last season. That may be a bit high, but offers an interesting illustration nonetheless.
Home runs from the position would actually be down, but most importantly, run production would be way up. Though actual runs scored by the third baseman would only be four higher, the position would drive in 41 more.
How many more wins might 41 RBI deliver?
Further, Freese offers nearly 100 points of improvement in batting average, on-base and slugging over the 2009 third basemen.
Expecting Freese to maintain this pace may not be fair. The second time around the league may be tougher for the rookie and slumps will occur, but the possibilities are fun to ponder.