David Freese: 2014 Angels Year in Review


2011 World Series hero and MVP for the Cardinals David Freese is no longer in the city with an Arch, but now finished with his first season in the city of Halos. On November 22, 2013 Freese was traded from St. Louis to Anaheim along with Fernando Salas for outfielders Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk. Freese in 2013 in his last season in St. Louis had his worst season since becoming an everyday starter at the big league level. So his expectations were that he would bounce back and go back to the old David Freese. Well, that wasn’t necessarily the case.

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The Good: The good news is that Freese was worth two wins this season (FanGraphs). How he got to that number I am not sure, because his 2014 season is almost identical to his 2013 campaign. The good thing with Freese this time around was that he stayed out of the double play. That may seem like a simple play, but it is huge over the course of a season. The more times you can turn a tailor made double play into just a fielders choice you are doing something right. It isn’t the result you want, but you will take a runner at first instead of the bases empty.

Aug 17, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels third baseman David Freese (6) during the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Freese’s defense was a lot better this season than last as he had a -22.7 UZR/150 in 2013, and saw that number become above average at 2.1 in 2014. Any way you can change the game is key and it isn’t always with the bat. Just ask Andrelton Simmons if you see him walking down the street. He didn’t get his new contract last offseason for his hitting ability. The one flaw in his defense was his range. He made 30 or more plays outside of his zone the past two season but this season just 19. He wasn’t making as many plays inside of his zone either as that number fell as well. Maybe he was better defensively overall because he didn’t make as many misplays on balls out of his zone, but for more I would rather him try to make the play, rather than watch it go into left field. Again defense is hard to judge because we don’t have the necessary technology yet to 100 percent know how much better one player is than another.

The Bad: For what was good for David Freese in 2014, there was the bad. First I will start with the strikeouts. He had more strikeouts this season than any other season in the Major League level. You can tolerate the strikeouts if he is producing runs and driving the ball over the wall, but he wasn’t. He barely reached the double digit mark in home runs, which is usually where he sits, but with the way he plays, he needs to hit for a better average.

The amount of strikeouts went up and the walks went in the other direction sending his on-base percentage to the basement. Freese was put on the lineup card in the sixth or seventh spot for most of the 2014 season. In the American League the end of the order has a different type of job than in the National League, where Freese spent the first part of his career. At the end of the order, you have to get on base to get it back to the top of the order. It is even more important in the American League, because you aren’t giving away a free out with the pitcher, so you don’t want to become the free out to an opposing pitcher. Being in the seven hole, Freese has to do a better job of being on base for the players below him so they can turn the lineup over more often than they did in 2014.

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I talked about Freese’s defense being above average by some standards above, but some others see it differently. Freese, by an official scorers decision only made 8 “errors” in 2014. That doesn’t account for the misplay of a ball, or a ball that he wasn’t able to get to that other third basemen around the league were. According to Mark Simon of ESPN, Freese was in the bottom third of third basemen in good play to misplay ratio. Freese was below one because he only made 22 good plays, but 17 misplays. Some of the misplays include, botching a double play, making a bad throw, and about 60 other categories of misplays. So really how good was Freese at defense in 2014? We don’t really know.

The Future: David Freese is in his final year of arbitration and will become a free-agent after next season. It is unclear what he will make this coming season, but he should be worried about his next contract. He will need a better season than this one to get a major contract coming his way. The FanGraphs steamer has him hitting around .260 once again, but has him with a little more pop at 13 homers. Overall they have him being a two win player once again, but have his defense going down, that could be due to aging or the number of misplays he made last season.

Nonetheless 2015 is a big season for David Freese. He will have to be more than a World Series hero to get a big contract he will have to prove himself over the course of an entire season.