Freese is of course most well known for his unassailable performance in the 2011 postseason for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Missouri native improbably knocked a two-out, two-run triple for his hometown team in the bottom of the ninth of game six to keep the Cardinals alive. Then just for kicks, he went ahead and won it with a walk-off home run leading off the 11th inning to force game seven. Not to outdo himself, but when the Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first of game seven, Freese responded in the bottom half with a game-tying 2-run double. It is not an understatement to put Freese’s 2011 among the most clutch and dramatically interesting performances in baseball history.
His postseason heroics were not anomalous to 2011, however, as in 230 career postseason plate appearances spanning 69 games, Freese hit .299/.370/.549 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs for the Cardinals, Angels, and Dodgers. In terms of win probability added, Freese’s 2011 World Series performance ranks second all-time only to Willie Aikens for the 1980 Kansas City Royals, who hit four home runs with a .538 OBP in six games against the Phillies.
In terms of regular season achievement, Freese was a more modest performer. He holds a career batting line of .277/.351/.423 with 113 home runs in 1,184 games for the Cardinals, Angels, Pirates, and Dodgers. He only once hit more than 15 home runs in a season, and he handled the transition into part-time player with aplomb. As much as he was an extra man for the Dodgers the last two seasons, given their lack of obvious need at first and third base, his retirement is nonetheless a blow for the Dodgers coming off their defeat in the NLDS. It is not so much his skillset they will miss, not with Justin Turner, Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger on hand at the corners, but his personage, as all indications point to Freese as a class-act, veteran leader, and as mentioned, a singular clutch performer. If there were such a thing as a postseason specialist, Freese would be the mold.