On August 31, the Dodgers made an interesting trade, acquiring infielder David Freese from the Pittsburgh Pirates. After making a huge trade-deadline splash with the acquisitions of Manny Machado and Brian Dozier, the Dodgers appeared to be done adding bats to an already stellar team.
Freese wasn’t expected to be an immediate starter with LA. He was expected to be a bat off the bench, as well as a veteran presence in the locker room.
The front office though, had other ideas.
Freese was brought over for depth, as well as being a voice in the locker room, but his main purpose wasn’t expected to be on full display until October.
“Yeah. It’s great. I didn’t know -- you never know if you’re going to be in the postseason,” Freese said on getting a postseason chance with the Dodgers. “You never know if you’re going to get back. Obviously, my career is winding down.”
Mostly well known for his historic 2011 postseason, Freese has established himself as one of the more clutch players of the last few decades. In 2011, Freese hit .545 with three home runs and 9 RBI in the NLCS versus the Brewers. He had 12 hits in only six games.
His World Series was even more memorable. Winning MVP, he hit .348 and had an unforgettable performance in Game 6. Down to the final strike, Freese tripled in two runs, tying the game.
In the 11th inning, Freese walked it off, sending the series to a seventh game, in which the Cardinals ultimately won.
When Freese came over to LA, he owned a .281/.357/.517 slash line with eight home runs and 30 RBI in his postseason career.
For the 35-year-old, he was better than advertised in the month of September. In 18 games, Freese hit .385, which was the highest in the national league, along with two homers and nine RBI. His OPS of 1.130 was second in the league.
Expecting to be a bench piece, Freese was able to work himself into the everyday lineup for the teams most crucial stretch of the year.
After three games in the NLDS, Freese only saw one at-bat. He got the start in game three, but was taken out of the game, as Max Muncy pinch-hit for him.
In a crucial fourth game, the Dodgers had runners on the corners with two outs. Trailing one run in the sixth, LA was in desperate need of someone to deliver with runners in scoring position. For LA fans, there likely wasn’t a debate for who they wanted to see at the plate.
After a pitching change, Dave Roberts sent Freese to the plate. A stolen base from Yasiel Puig put runners at second and third. The count reached 3-2, and the most important pitch of the series was about to be thrown.
Freese connected on a 96-mph fastball, hitting it under the glove of former Dodger Charlie Culberson, and through to center field, bringing in two runs to give LA a 3-2 lead.
It was his only at-bat of the game, but Freese did exactly what he was expected to do when he was traded to LA, deliver in the clutch.
“You never know what this game is going to give you, what opportunities arise for you,” Freese said. “You just gotta be ready. That’s what I’ve learned over the years. Whether you’re in high school, college, whatever, just be ready. You don’t have to be the best player in the world. You don’t have to make the most money, but you’re going to have a shot to do something cool. I learned that early in my career, and just try and stick with it.”
Dave Roberts spoke after the game on what it’s been like counting on Freese in the lineup.
“And now when you’re talking about putting him in a spot in a big moment, you just can bet on the pulse,” Roberts said. “He’s obviously come up with some big hits for us in such a short period of time. But obviously this is probably the biggest one, and we’re lucky to have him.”