The Dodgers signed right-handed corner infielder David Freese this off-season with the sole purpose being to have him hit left-handed pitching. He has done that and more this season for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Signed for only $5 million, Freese has certainly made significant returns on the investment already, and it is only mid-June.
With a .300/.417/.610 slash line on the season, Freese has quietly been the Dodgers’ unsung hero and quite possibly the Dodgers’ second best hitter behind Cody Bellinger on a per at-bat basis. His 171 wRC+ is actually the seventh best in Major League Baseball this season amongst hitters with over 120 plate appearances.
David Freese, re-signed for his ability to hit southpaws, has a .341/.420/.659 slash line and a 185 wRC+ against right-handed pitching.
— Daniel Preciado (@DanJPreciado) June 11, 2019
At 35 years old, Freese is only improving. What is absurd about his season so far is just how well he has hit right-handed pitching, which is not necessarily in this job description. Freese has a .356/.431/.733 slash line and 203 wRC+ (!) against righties. That wRC+ ranks second in all of baseball, sandwiched in between Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger respectively. He is right-handed. Crazy.
Things have only gotten better. David Freese currently boasts the second-highest wRC+ against right-handed pitching (203) in the entire league (min. 50 PAs). The player above him is Christian Yelich (205) and the player below him is Cody Bellinger (200). https://t.co/giPc7tH7H8
— Daniel Preciado (@DanJPreciado) June 13, 2019
Against lefties, he has certainly done his part as well, posting a 147 wRC+ against that handedness of pitching. He is simply getting done in his part-time role.
We just need him healthy!! Honestly no reason he shouldn't be getting the loin's share of playing time at 1B right now.
— Clint Pasillas (FRG) (@realFRG) June 13, 2019
Clint is right. Instead of giving Kiké Hernandez and Chris Taylor everyday at-bats, why not give them to David Freese. It is as easy as playing Max Muncy at second base and Freese at first, with one of the utility guys playing short with Corey Seager out.
He has upped his walk rate from 7.7% to 16.7%, which is tied for the fourth-best in the bigs. The big change in Freese’s profile comes from the high percentage of barrels he has hit, according to Baseball Savant. In 2018, Freese had a 9.0% barrel rate. This year: an insane 17.6%, which also ranks amongst the league leaders.
Freese may be aging, but it appears he is only getting better.