10 Bold Predictions for 2012: The Arrival of David Freese helps Cardinals forget Albert Pujols

As part of our preview for the upcoming 2012 season, we’ll be doing a ’10 Bold Predictions for 2012′ series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our second prediction is that the arrival of David Freese as a superstar. This will help in providing a soft landing spot in the transition of the Cardinals and their fans into the post-Pujols era.

Those 21 postseason RBI last October showed me all that was necessary to confirm my belief on David Freese. The guy is a big time player just waiting to spread his gigantic wings. It might only be for a season or so, but Freese is going to be on everyone’s radar by the time this season is finished as he should be already.

I remember watching a Cardinals game with a friend back in 2010 when this big strong kid who was playing third base for the Cardinals that day got into a couple of pitches and stroked them backside off the wall in St. Louis with perpetual ease for doubles.

“That’s a nice looking player right there.”

We both seemed to say it synonymously with each other, to the point we probably laughed. From that day forward I knew his name, and I was going to make sure I kept this one David Freese on my radar.

He has the propensity to get nicked easily–he’s played just 184 games over three seasons in the big leagues–and at times he still appears to be a bit ‘raw’. But there’s something about Freese that tells me he’s capable of a lot more.

Chipper Jones said earlier this spring that he likes Freese’s all around make up more than that of Ryan Zimmerman or David Wright, two players he considers to be superstars in their own right.

Freese will be 29 years old this season, so while he’s not young he’s ripe for the age of arrival, and arrive he will. Freese’s star might shine brightly only for a moment. He strikes us as a guy who could be off the charts unbelievable for one season on the back of his baseball card and then slowly taper off with seasons of .270/17/70 before riding off into the sunset. But one of those years will stand out to the fans who look back on Freese’s career numerical epitaph.

While there’s a lot of talk about Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina picking up the slack and combining the sum to replace the big part that departed for Orange County earlier in the off season, the one who will come closest to pulling a Pujols will be David Freese.

Freese has a career slash line of .354/.429/.783 during the regular season. In his 18 game postseason he decided he was going to show you all a flash of what is to come with a .465/.794/1.258 impression. He’ll settle somewhere in between that this season as he gets cozy in the middle of that St. Louis order and earns his status as a baseball rockstar in 2012.

How does .305 with 30 home runs and 120 RBI sound to you? We predict he stays healthy all year long and the BB to K ratio gets a lot closer to 1/1 this year. So while we will admit to you that he won’t be Brooks Robinson over the course of his career, he can be 1999 Fernando Tatis in St. Louis this season and play the part well.

David Freese, meet super stardom. You have been knighted.