This morning I had a conversation with one of the best hitters I’ve played with, as well as one of the most knowledgeable hitters I know, about David Freese’s swing and postseason success. My question to him was whether Freese’s ability to drive through the ball so well to both center and right field stemmed from his ability to hit off of such a firm front side — as illustrated in the picture above.
He responded by saying that was definitely part of it. However, he also noted that Freese never gets the barrel around the ball which in turn allows him to always keep his hands inside the pitch. But what he mentioned next is what really got my wheels spinning. He said that the only way you can be successful doing that is by recognizing the pitch, something that Freese did visibly well all October.
Here is Freese’s ‘Swing Pitch Types’ chart for all of October:
The above graphic depicts his ability to recognize and attack three different types of fastballs within the strike zone. Furthermore, it shows that rarely swung at fastballs outside of the zone. Rather, the pitches he chased out of the zone were low changeups and curves, and he did that sparingly.
To further my argument on Freese’s pitch recognition, here is his October ‘Take Pitch Types’ chart:
Just as he showed a propensity to attack fastballs within the strike zone, Freese’s discipline was also exemplified by his ability to resist non-strike fastballs, especially inside ones. This brings me to the final part of that conversation. He stated that because Freese is so disciplined, when pitchers try to bust him inside (like they were trying do during the World Series), he does not deviate from his approach — which, as any hitter knows, is incredibly tough to do.