The Dodgers come in to Wednesday’s matinee with the Arizona Diamondbacks on an seven game winning streak, having gathered another series win, and with a chance for another series sweep.
That’s exactly what they should be doing, with a team this talented. After last season’s abysmal start, this season has been an absolute joy to watch.
The spotlight has been mostly on Cody Bellinger, and rightly so. More than a third of the way through the season, the young phenom is still leading all of MLB in batting average, RBI, slugging, and OPS. He’s second in runs, and tied for second in home runs. While he may not maintain a .400 batting average throughout the season, he is having quite the impressive season.
A bunch of the focus has also been on rookie Alex Verdugo‘s campaign, and of course on Hyun-Jin Ryu and his incredible pitching. But baseball is a team sport, and you need more than one hot batter or one shutdown pitcher who only takes the mound once every five days.
Under the media and some fans’ radar, there have been an older contributor that has quietly and constantly been contributing to making a good team, great.
David Freese has been what everyone thought Chase Utley would be – a fill-in, bat with pop off the bench and a mentor to all the good, young players the Dodgers currently have. Utley definitely has the mentor side down, but unfortunately by time he got to the Dodgers his body wasn’t what it once was.
A member of three teams before he was traded to the Dodgers last season and in his eleventh season in the majors, Freese has mentioned that he knows he is at the latter stages of his career. He is definitely making the best of it.
Opting to re-sign with the Dodgers after the 2018 season for $5M raised some eyebrows, thinking he would go out and test the market. But Freese said he felt really comfortable in Los Angeles, and in the role that he would be in. He no longer felt the need to be the everyday starter and relishes being able to come off the bench and provide the lineup with some punch.
In a recent interview with Sportnet LA, when asked if this is the most fun he’s had playing with a team, Freese answered “Yeah, but I mean, not to discredit any other spot I’ve been, man, but I’m having a blast here, and it’s not really about the 40, 41 wins, I just love this group and I feel real comfortable here.”
And he has shown just that. Freese currently in the midst of a 10 game hitting streak. His slash line is .301/.425/.591, and his OPS is a whopping 1.016. And in his last seven games, coinciding with some of that 10 game hit streak, he’s slashing .476/.522/.952. with two home runs, and over those 10 games, has a 1.511 OPS.
In Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, first baseman Matt Beaty was replaced by Freese because of an apparent injury. David promptly broke the 0-0 tie with a homer, and then made an incredible play at first to stab a screaming liner to end the inning and the Phillies’ scoring chance.
And not for nothing, he’s been giving great postgame interviews with Alanna Rizzo.
The accolades and impressive stats could go on and on for the 36 year old veteran. But maybe the most important thing is that he has the World Series hero pedigree, Veteran Clubhouse Presence, and calm demeanor to anchor a team on a World Series run. All we can ask for is for Freese to give us some World Series heroics of our own.