St. Louis Cardinals’ third baseman David Freese had carried the tag of a player with great talent, but one who had been unable to reach his full potential. First, it was off-field problems, and later injuries became his personal plague.
Ankle problems that were feared to be chronic shorted Freese’s 2009 and ruined his 2010 campaign. His primary injury this past season was a May 1 hit-by-pitch broken hand that could have happened to anyone. Still, despite the reason, Freese played in barely half his team’s games over the last two seasons – just 97 regular-season games this season after 70 the year before.
The best-of-five National League Division Series began with the Cardinals down one game to two to the team with the best regular-season record in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies. St. Louis held off elimination in Game 4 as Freese plated four in St. Louis’ 5-3 victory. The Cards then won Game 5 to advance.
Moving into the League Championship Series against the NL Central champion Brewers, Freese heated up against his familiar opponent. Freese hit safely in all six CS games, batting .545, including three doubles, three home runs, nine RBI and six runs scored.
In what became the final CS contest, Game 6, held in Milwaukee, Freese set the pace. He launched a three-run home run in the first inning and the Cardinals breezed to the 12-6 clincher. After the game, Freese was named LCS Most Valuable Player.
Game 6 was once again Freese’s pivotal contest, this time in the World Series. With the Cards down to their final strike in the ninth against Texas, Freese’s two-run triple sent the game into extra innings. After a pair of lead changes, he came through again. In the bottom of the 11th, Freese’s home run to dead center ended one of the most exciting World Series games ever by a 10-9 score.
Following the Cardinals’ Game 7 victory over the Rangers, Freese was voted MVP for the second consecutive series. It was certainly justified as he batted .348 (8-for-23) with three doubles, a triple, home run, seven RBI and four runs scored.
Putting it all together, over the entire post-season, Freese was 9-for-19 (.474) with runners in scoring position, including seven extra-base hits. He set all-time MLB post-season marks in RBI with 21, extra-base hits with 14 and total bases with 50 and tied for the most post-season doubles ever with eight and hits with 25.
It was clearly a post-season to remember for the St. Louis native. He was then given the rock star treatment, making television appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the Country Music Association Awards, a spot on a network sitcom and more.
Now that Freese’s relatively lower profile has been shattered, the pressure will be on for him to deliver more of the same kind of results in 2012. A regular turn in the fifth spot of new manager Mike Matheny’s lineup would mean an expectation of regular run production from the 2011 playoff hero.