Freese, 2011 WS MVP, retires after 11 seasons

October 12th, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- , the hometown hero who etched himself in Cardinals history with a pair of swings one October night in 2011, has called it a career.

After hinting throughout the season that this would likely be his last, Freese, 36, made his decision to retire official with a Twitter post on Saturday. The announcement comes three days after Freese played his final game with the Dodgers, who were eliminated in Game 5 of their National League Division Series.

Freese’s career spanned 11 seasons and four organizations, though it was his tenure in St. Louis that locked his legacy. Drafted by the Padres in the ninth round of the 2006 MLB Draft, Freese landed back near his hometown of Wildwood, Mo., when the Cardinals swapped him for Jim Edmonds after the ’07 season.

He debuted at home in front of family and friends two years later, then cemented his place as a Cardinals legend with a torrid October that helped earn the franchise its 11th World Series championship.

After missing part of that 2011 season due to injury -- one of several that plagued him during his five years in St. Louis -- Freese posted a 1.691 OPS during a National League Championship Series win over the Brewers to earn series MVP honors. Freese went on to tally eight more hits in the World Series, including a two-out, two-strike triple off Texas’ Neftali Feliz in Game 6 that tied the game in the bottom of the ninth.

Two innings later, Freese lifted a ball to straightaway center, dropping it in the grass and prompting Joe Buck to echo his father’s famous call: “We will see you tomorrow night!”

Freese drove in the Cardinals’ first two runs the next night as well and was named World Series MVP following the Cardinals’ 6-2 win. He remains one of seven players in postseason history to win LCS and WS MVP honors in the same season, joining (1979), ('82), ('88), ('97), ('08) and ('14).

Freese played two more years in St. Louis before being traded to the Angels. He spent two seasons in Anaheim, parts of three more with the Pirates and then finished his career with the Dodgers. He posted a .277/.351/.423 slash line over his career. His postseason numbers -- .299/.370/.549 over 69 games -- were even better. He appeared in three World Series and still holds the record for total bases in one postseason (50 in 2011). 

That Freese, who was almost 26 years old when he made his Major League debut, became the architect of such a long and productive career was a testament to his perseverance. He had quit the sport after his senior year in high school before finding a spot on a local community college team. 

Off-field issues and injuries threatened to derail his career at several stops. None did. On Saturday, Freese, now a husband and father, was able to walk away on his own time.