For the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series, someone other than Albert Pujols(notes) probably had to be the hero.
With Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington pledging to not let Pujols beat his team (Game 3's three-homer performance being the obvious exception), the Cardinals' other middle-of-the-order batters had to come through with key hits. During this postseason, no one was up to the task more than David Freese(notes).
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Freese hit .348 (8-for-23) with a home run and seven RBIs in the Series. But the three runs he drove in during Game 6 — one of which came on a walkoff home run in the 11th inning — will make him a legend for life in St. Louis.
Without Freese's two-out, two-strike, two-run triple in the ninth inning, followed by his walkoff shot two innings later, the Cardinals aren't playing a Game 7 for a championship.
In Game 7, after falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, Freese made Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison(notes) pay for walking Pujols and Lance Berkman(notes) with a two-run double to left-center field that tied the score. The Cardinals never trailed again.
And now Freese, who made about $416,000 this season, can drive home in style. As part of his grand prize package, Freese received a 2012 Chevy Corvette. All for hitting a little ball.
During the trophy/car presentation, Fox broadcaster Chris Rose said, "I think there's about 50,000 people who want a ride home tonight." To which he responded:
"Ha-ha! I'll try to make that work."
If anyone could do it, Freese could. His MVP honors capped off a tremendous postseason for him. If MLB handed out an award for MVP for the playoffs, he might have won that, too.
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In Game 4 of the NLDS against the heavily favored Philadelphia Phillies, Freese had four RBIs to force the Series to a decisive Game 5, and an eventual upset. During the NLCS versus the Milwaukee Brewers, no Cardinals hitter was more dangerous than Freese, who hit .545/.600/1.091 (a 1.691 OPS!) with three homers and nine RBIs. His three-run homer in the first inning of the deciding Game 6 might as well have been a knockout blow.
Freese also set a postseason record with 21 RBIs during the Cardinals' World Series run. He also broke the record for most extra-base hits with runners in scoring position for a single postseason.
Pretty impressive for a guy who decided to quit baseball after high school. And certainly not bad at all for a player who played in only 70 games last season due to ankle injuries after winning the starting third base job. Freese was also limited to 92 games this season because of a broken hand.
For a team that wasn't supposed to be in the postseason after falling behind 10 1/2 games in the NL wild race on Aug. 25, a team that wasn't expected to get past the Phillies in the NLDS, nor defeat the Brewers in the NLCS, Freese is the perfect player to represent the Cardinals' World Series championship.
A relative unknown outside of Cardinal Nation, little was expected from Freese. But like his team, he surpassed whatever predictions were made and seized the attention of a national audience with a standout performance. Many people know who David Freese is now. And they all want a ride home.