COMMENTARY | The 2013 season dawned with David Freese on the disabled list for the St. Louis Cardinals. A month and a half into the season, his performance had many fans wondering if he should be off the disabled list or even in the big leagues.
The Cardinals opened a series against division rival Milwaukee on May 17 and Freese opened the day with a .209 batting average, a .242 slugging percentage, and had yet to hit his first home run of the season. He had been hitting the ball hard that week and commentators started to acknowledge that he seemed to be settling in at the plate, preparing to break out of his slump and be the run-producing slugger the team needed. The season seemingly turned around that day.
The first homerun comes in grand fashion
The game on May 17 started out great for the Cardinals and Freese, as the third-baseman would unload a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning with Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and Yadier Molina on base. The homer would double his RBI total for the season. It would be his only hit of the day, followed by two strikeouts and a ground out to short, leaving fans wondering if he was breaking out or landed one good swing.
Runs by the bunches
The grand slam on May 17 would also mark the first time in 2013 that Freese would drive in more than one run in a single game. He would not wait long to reproduce that effort. Freese would suffer a sore thumb that would cause him to miss the series with the team that drafted him, the San Diego Padres, May 20-22. He would return to the lineup against the Los Angeles Dodgers and produce a pair of extra base hits, including his second home run, and drive in three runs. His average was up to .236 by the end of that game.
Hitting streaks fix everything
Not counting the magical 2011 postseason, Freese has never produced a substantial hitting streak in his career. As of June 7, Freese had extended his hitting streak to 17 games, a career best and the fourth longest such streak for a Cardinal third-baseman over the last 50 years. Dating back to May 17, Freese has produced a .397 batting average, a .619 slugging percentage, five doubles, three home runs, and 16 runs batted in during his streak. His season average has reached .286 his slugging percentage is .396. He appears to be the hitter that the Cardinals expect when they pencil him in to the sixth slot of the lineup every night.
Freese appears to be past his early-season struggles and back to his run-producing ways. The only question now may be how much longer the Cardinals hit him sixth.
The rest of the National League is on notice: there's a Freese warning in St. Louis once again.
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