Our David Freese projections—we got 83 of them—were far less divided than our attempts to project Colby Rasmus. In keeping with Freese's anodyne image there was no 48 home run projection, hundred-point swing in batting average or slugging percentage, and generally no consideration given even to what a David Freese breakout would look like. Only four people suggested he would hit either more than 20 or less than 10 home runs; three each predicted a batting average below .250 or above .280.
The end result looked a lot like this. It might be familiar!
That looks about right. David Freese has no exciting hitting skills, but his only real flaw is a 20:40 batter's eye; everything else is Good Enough. Would you like to see something really creepy? If you gave the NL Average Third Baseman from 2009 446 at-bats, this is what his numbers would look like:
So nice job, Baseball-Reference Projection Robots: you got within two extra base hits. Here's what the other projections have to say about David Freese's Perfectly Average 2010 Experience:
We are, in fact, less optimistic about David Freese than both Fangraphers at large and CHONE. Residual Jim Edmonds angst? A reflection of our familiarity with David Freese's stellar driving record?
So the David Freese in our mind's eye is in keeping with the plan that can be inferred from the Cardinals' post-Holliday moves: surround the two big hitters with a bunch of average players and avoid the kind of giant sucking sounds that have to be filled at significant cost around the trade deadline.
Losing Chris Perez and Jess Todd is both a dead horse and a bad fit for this kind of discussion, since the last third base hole came after both Troy Glaus and David Freese came up lame with completely unexpected injuries, but if that's the going rate for an average infielder it's not one the Cardinals can afford to continue paying without turning the farm system into a late-Jocketty wasteland of injured pitchers and fourth outfielders.
In that sense the 2010 Cardinals look well-stocked: no spot makes me as nervous as, say, Skip Schumaker 2009, or... well, Skip Schumaker 2008, or that year's frightening Kennedy/Izturis/Miles middle infield arrangement. A number of spots even have cheap Thurston-plus backups at the ready—Ruben Gotay at third, Tyler Greene at short, Allen Craig wherever he's allowed to play. Having already suffered through the uncertainty (and often poor play) that came with relying on B- prospects like Schumaker and Yadier Molina, it is about time for us to reap the mental health benefits of supporting a lineup that has, for the most part, already proven itself competent.
That is, until you start to think about the rotation.