Monday was special for St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese in several ways. The 27-year-old had been named the National League Player of the Week that afternoon and he celebrated that evening by delivering the knockout blow to the Philadelphia Phillies in game 1 of their four-game series.
The right-handed hitter plated three with a bases-loaded double off the right field wall of Citizens Bank Park in the Cardinals' pivotal five-run seventh inning. Freese remains on fire as he extended his hitting streak to seven straight games, during which he is 14-for-27 (.519) while driving in 14 runs. He is now 10-for-21 with men in scoring position this season.
"What David is doing is out of this world," manager Tony La Russa said after Monday's game.
Monday marked a career milestone for Freese as well. He completed his 40th game as a major leaguer – 17 last season and 23 here in 2010. During that time, in a total of 126 plate appearances and 112 official at-bats, Freese has amassed 26 RBI.
That total ties Freese for the fourth-fastest RBI start in the recent history of the St. Louis Cardinals franchise, since 1952.
Interestingly, all of the team's top leaders were corner infielders. Not surprisingly, all-world first baseman Albert Pujols is first in team history with 44 RBI over his first 40 games. He was primarily a third baseman in the early stages of his rookie major league season of 2001.
Pujols is followed by a trio of players from the early 1950's. In fact, all three did it within a two-year time span. In 1953, first-year third baseman Ray Jablonski plated 35.
Oddly, in the very next year, 1954, the Cardinals' pair of new first basemen each achieved the feat. Tom Alston drove in 29 through his initial 40 contests and Joe Cunningham, now tied by Freese, had 26 that same season.
When considering RBI productivity per plate appearance, Freese has fourth place all to himself, following Pujols, first baseman Fred Whitfield (1962) and Jablonski. Freese is collecting RBIs slightly more frequently than one per five plate appearances. Pujols' initial pace was better than one per four PAs.
St. Louis Cardinals, RBI, first 40 games, 1952-present
|Andy Van Slyke||40||138||120||29||5||1||4||19||16||24||.242||.400||.138|
A special thanks to researcher Tom Orf for the data pull.
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