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.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.