Unless you followed the Cardinals closely in 2011, you likely got your first real introduction to David Freese during the postseason. The follow-up question you may be asking is what can Freese do for an encore? And, will he be as good long term as his October performance would indicate?
It's a natural thing for the casual fan to think about. And, it's probable that a lot of Cardinals' fans have wondered it as well. David Freese was a postseason hero, but just how good can be for the long term, or for that matter, in 2012?
Freese's road to recognition as a big leaguer has been a long and windy one, but by all indications we should probably get use to hearing his name. In other words, he appears to have the potential to be a high quality big leaguer for a long time.
"This guy was no fluke," one scout told me. "I think what everyone saw in the postseason was basically everything coming together in front of a big audience. As long as he's on the field he's going to put up numbers in 2012."
Health will indeed be a big key for Freese. But, there's also no reason to believe he won't be highly productive if he does remain healthy. And, a big reason he has the ability to have some serious staying power lies in his swing mechanics.
"It's taken him some time to get there, but a lot of people have been talking about his swing for a long time now," another scout said regarding scouts' opinion of Freese's swing. He has a great lower half and stays very quiet with his hands. There's a lot to like mechanically."
That simplified, calm approach lends itself well to hitting better pitching, something Freese obviously did quite well in October. But, his ability to stake a short stride, keep his head still, and let his hands go should allow him to be very consistent throughout a season.
One of the real standout aspects of Freese's swing aside from the ones stated above is his hip movement. Watch closely as his front foot lands in his stride. The hip release and that foot landing are just about instantaneous and the hip rotation generates tremendous torque and power for Freese. Because he generates so much power with his hips, it gives him the appearance of having such an effortlessly powerful swing.
"It's pretty easy power," the scout continued. "He does great work with his lower half so his hands get to the ball pretty effortlessly. This is a guy who can hit 25 homers a year in the big leagues."
And, that's the type of player Cardinal fans should look forward to. His swing is going to be consistent enough and powerful enough to put up steadily above average power this year and beyond. In other words, get use to the David Freese we saw last postseason.