David Freese Is The Angels’ X-Factor


Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

I would say David Freese has had a roller coaster career, but it’s been far too short to really qualify. This may come as a surprise to some, but Freese is only in his fifth full season as a major leaguer.

At one point, the Missouri native looked like he would very well remain a St. Louis Cardinal for life. After winning the 2011 World Series MVP in just his sophomore season, he continued his breakout success in 2012 with a career year, putting up a slash line of .293/.372/.467, with 20 home runs and 79 RBI.

Freese’s 2013 season was a bit of a setback. His offense was still solid but his power was greatly diminished (.381 SLG), and his defense was leaving much to be desired (-16.5 UZR).

And just like that, he gets traded (along with righty pitcher Fernando Salas) to Los Angeles for Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.

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How are the initial impressions on the third baseman? Well, let’s put it like this: the Angels have accumulated at least 3 fWAR at all but one position this season. And I don’t think anybody who has followed the Halos this year would have trouble guessing what that one position would be.

The good news is that Freese, for the most part, has been looking better and better each month.

In April, he was projecting to be a colossal failure already and Halo fans were calling for his head. He put up a .193/.250/.277 slash line, good for a .239 wOBA and 53 wRC+. He also had a 29.3 K%, the highest strikeout rate of his career. Somewhat surprisingly, he did manage to homer twice through all of this.

His May slash line was a marginal improvement, though still pretty dreadful: .222/.286/.267. His power looked even worse, but he was clearly hitting better. His wOBA was .255, wRC+ at 64.

In June, he was starting to look more like his 2013 form… which is to say disappointing, but not revolting. His OBP was .122 higher than it was two months prior, with a slash line of .280/.372/.329 and a .323 wOBA and 112 wRC+. However, at this point he had 0 homers in the last two months. And with a less-than-stellar slugging percentage, one had to wonder if his power was completely zapped at that point.

Then July happened. He homered four times, more than he had in the first three months combined. His slash line was .291/.367/.494. With a .377 wOBA and 149 wRC+, it was kind of scary how under the radar he flew during this month. He looked absolutely amazing.

Unfortunately, his month of August broke this awesome, upward trend. His slash line was back to a terrible .250/.280/.350, and his wOBA was .277 and wRC+ at 80. Once again with 0 home runs, he didn’t look much better in August than he did back in May. What happened here?! It’s all over.

Not yet, says David Freese. We’re only halfway done with September, but he has thus far put up a .357/.413/.595 slash line, with a monstrous wOBA and wRC+ of .438 and 192, respectively. His K% is only 8.7. Not coincidentally, this has coincided with Angels going on a tear and seemingly winning every game in the last few weeks. To say his bat has come to life would be an enormous understatement.

Obviously there is no telling as to whether or not Freese can maintain this level of play all the way until the end of the postseason. But his poor play for the first half of the season, however sour a taste it left in the mouths of many, is now irrelevant. He is heating up at the perfect time, and that’s all that matters.

As the adage goes: it’s not where you start, but where you finish. David Freese himself has shown these sentiments to be true in 2011. It’s time to show it again.