He hasn’t had the chance to distinguish himself as much as some, but at-bat for at-bat, Carlos Beltran is the best postseason hitter of all-time.
At least until David Freese overtakes him.
Beltran and Freese both added to their remarkable postseason totals in Sunday’s Game 1 against the Giants, hitting two-run homers off Madison Bumgarner. Beltran’s exploits were covered in this space a couple of days ago. Now it’s time to look at Freese’s rather remarkable success these last two years.
Including Sunday’s victory, Freese has played in 25 postseason games with the Cardinals and hit .386 with six homers, 11 doubles and 25 RBI. He’s slugging a robust .739.
Among players with 100 postseason plate appearances — Freese’s total on the button — only Beltran (.824) and Babe Ruth (.744) have higher slugging percentages than Freese. Lou Gehrig is next at .731. Lower the total to 70 plate appearances and only one more person slips in higher than Freese: Troy Glaus came in at .756 in 88 plate appearances.
In 2011, Freese tied the all-time single postseason record with 25 hits and set new records with 21 RBI and 50 total bases.
Sunday’s homer was his first of the 2012 postseason, but he’s hit .360 with three doubles.
Freese has been a perfectly good regular-season player, too, but nothing like this. He’s averaged one homer every 32 at-bats and a double every 20 at-bats from April through September. In October, he’s homered every 15 at-bats and doubled every eight at-bats.
The Cardinals have a better lineup top to bottom this year than when they won the World Series last season, so they don’t necessarily need Freese to keep up this pace. Still, it certainly can’t hurt the cause if he does. No player in major league history has ever claimed an LCS or World Series MVP honors in back-to-back years. Freese won both last year, so he’ll have at least one and maybe two chances to make history.
Pirates starter Gerrit Cole helped his own cause during Thursday afternoon’s 8-3 victory over the Diamondbacks. The right-hander erased a 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the second inning, cranking out a three-run home run to left-center field off of lefty Patrick Corbin.
It’s Cole’s second career home run. The other one came on September 7, 2014 off of Cubs pitcher Blake Parker.
Since Cole came into the league in 2013, he is one of only 22 pitchers (min. 100 plate appearances) with above-average production at the plate, going by FanGraphs’ wRC+ stat.
As for the pitching, Cole went five innings in a no-decision against the D-Backs, yielding an unearned run on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts. On the year, he’s 5-3 with a 2.53 ERA and a 44/16 K/BB ratio in 53 1/3 innings.
Major League Baseball has reduced Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor‘s eight-game suspension by one game to seven, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports. Odor will begin serving the suspension on Friday, and the Rangers are expected to call up infielder Jurickson Profar from Triple-A Round Rock to replace Odor, per MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan.
Odor landed a right cross on the face of Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista in a series finale between the two teams on May 15. Bautista, who had been hit in the ribs by a Matt Bush fastball, slid in late and hard to Odor in an attempt to break up a ground ball double play attempt. Odor didn’t take kindly to Bautista’s slide. After Odor swung at Bautista, the benches emptied.
Bautista had his appeal hearing on Thursday morning. A decision on his case, a one-game suspension, isn’t expected to be made for another day or two.
Profar, 23, has hit .284/.356/.426 with five home runs and 26 RBI in 189 plate appearances at Round Rock this season.
Major League Baseball just announced that Braves outfielder Hector Olivera has been suspended through August 1, 2016 for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. The suspension is retroactive to April 30, making this an 82 game suspension. Olivera has been on paid leave since his arrest and will be required to return salary earned during that time.
Olivera was arrested early on April 13 after assaulting a woman at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington, Virginia while the Braves were in town for a series against the Washington Nationals. The victim told police that she had been assaulted by Olivera. Police say the victim had bruises and was transported to a hospital. Olivera was at the hotel and taken into police custody.
Olivera had played in five games before the incident and was slated to be the Braves’ regular left fielder this season. There is little if any reason to believe he’ll feature in the Braves future for long after his suspension is served. Atlanta reportedly tried to trade him after his arrest, but there were understandably no takers. Olivera is in the second year of a six-year, $62.5 million contract.
Commissioner Manfred said in a statement today that, in addition to his suspension, “Mr. Olivera has also agreed to make a significant charitable contribution to one or more charitable organizations focused on preventing and treating survivors of domestic violence.”
Even before Chase Utley broke former Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada‘s leg with a slide during the playoffs last year, the second baseman was persona non grata in New York. Utley, playing for the rival Phillies, made the right field corner his — literally — with his performance at Citi Field. He was booed during his introduction at Yankee Stadium before the 2009 All-Star Game, prompting him to say audibly, “Boo? F— you.”
The slide put New York’s hatred of Utley into overdrive. Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports that after Utley broke Tejada’s leg, his family received death threats from angry Mets fans. In order to protect himself and his family, Utley didn’t stay at the team hotel after Game 2 of the NLDS.
His teammate, Clayton Kershaw, wasn’t happy with the way Utley was treated. He said, “Chase was playing the game the way he’s always played. Obviously you never want anybody to get hurt. The game being in the playoffs, and all that stuff, magnified everything. But there’s been a whole lot of slides a lot worse than that over the course of baseball [history] . . . Some of the stuff he had to go through, it wasn’t fair.”
The Mets host the Dodgers for a three-game series beginning on Friday. As McCullough notes, the two clubs didn’t get into any retaliation business when they played each other in Los Angeles earlier this month.