October 17, 2011
Albert Pujols(notes) hit .478 with three homers, Matt Holliday(notes) swung like his injury was a distant memory and the bullpen posted a 1.88 ERA over 28 2/3 innings of work, never allowing a single lead change.
In the end, though, it was David Freese(notes) who took home the series MVP award after a breakout performance. The 28-year-old third baseman hit .545 (12 for 22) with three homers, nine RBIs and seven runs scored over the six games.
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Though the Cardinals had a countless number of timely hits this series, it was Freese's three-run homer with two outs in the top of Sunday's first inning that set the tone in St. Louis' 12-6 laugher of a clincher.
"This means the world to me, not only to get to the World Series, but to be a part of this group of guys," Freese said. "I haven't been around a better group of guys."
If you're still wondering who Freese is, Derrick Goold's profile in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is worth the read. An injury-hampered late bloomer just like ALCS MVP Nelson Cruz(notes), Freese grew up in the St. Louis area, quit baseball for awhile after high school and was traded to the Cardinals from San Diego as part of the Jim Edmonds(notes) trade in 2007.
Though Freese has yet to play a full season — a broken hand limited him to 92 games in 2011 — he should be a big part of the Cardinals plans going forward. Freese has been so good this postseason that he earned the right to bat cleanup for Game 4 of the NLCS because La Russa said he was the team's best weapon against left-handers. Freese only batted fourth in three regular-season games and he could pass that total in the postseason seeing as how three of Texas' four postseason starters are southpaws.
A month ago, it would have seemed inconceivable that Freese could be batting ahead of both Holliday and Lance Berkman(notes) in Game 1 of the World Series. (Lefty C.J. Wilson(notes) is scheduled to start for Texas.)
Then again, it was also inconceivable that the Cardinals would even be in this position.
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Freese hitting his way into widespread recognition is one of the big reasons why they've reached the World Series.
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