David Freese, 2011 World Series MVP, retires at 36

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              Los Angeles Dodgers' Russell Martin (55) celebrates with David Freese (25) after hitting a two-run home run off Washington Nationals relief pitcher Hunter Strickland during the ninth inning in Game 3 of a baseball National League Division Series on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Washington. At left is Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — David Freese retired Saturday after an 11-year career in the majors in which he shone brightest in the postseason, winning a World Series title with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 when he was MVP.

The 36-year-old infielder made the announcement on Twitter.

He was a career .277 hitter and even better in the postseason, with a .299 average.

Freese made his final appearance Wednesday in a deciding Game 5 of an NL Division Series, striking out as a pinch-hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers. They lost 7-3 to the Washington Nationals. Freese had started Game 1 at first base.

He made his major league debut with St. Louis in 2009 and became a postseason star two years later. Freese batted .545 with 12 hits in the NL Championship Series in 2011. He also set an MLB postseason record with 21 RBIs and earned MVP honors in the NLCS and World Series.

Freese was an All-Star in 2012, when he played in a career-high 144 games after injuries had dogged him in previous years. In Game 1 of the NLCS against San Francisco, he hit a two-run homer off Madison Bumgarner.

In his first 25 postseason games, Freese batted .386 with six homers, 25 RBIs and a .739 slugging percentage in 100 plate appearances. Only Carlos Beltrán (.824) and Babe Ruth (.744) had higher slugging percentages in the same number of plate appearances.

But Freese slumped after that, batting just .192 for the series, won by the Giants in seven games.

Freese batted .315 in 79 games for the Dodgers this season, with 11 home runs and 29 RBIs. He played his final two years with them after two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels and three years in Pittsburgh.

In 2018, Freese hit .385 while platooning at first base. He homered leading off Game 6 of the NLCS. He started at first base in Game 1 of the World Series and hit another leadoff homer in Game 5, which was the Dodgers’ lone run as they lost the game and the title to Boston.

Freese was drafted by the San Diego Padres, who traded him to the Cardinals before the 2008 season. Born in Texas, he grew up in the St. Louis suburbs and rooted for the Cardinals.

Feeling burned out, Freese quit baseball in his senior year of high school despite being offered a baseball scholarship at Missouri. He attended the university anyway as a freshman. That summer he regained his love for the sport and enrolled in a St. Louis junior college, where he hit .396.

He went on to attend South Alabama and became the top third baseman in Division I.

“Padres, Cardinals, Angels, Pirates, and Dodgers. You took a 23-year-old kid out of college and pushed him to 36. Can’t thank you enough for that. Needed it,” Freese wrote on Twitter. “Will never stop thinking about the days I got to be around such wonderful people playing this game.”

Freese had struggled with depression and had three alcohol-related arrests between 2003 and 2009.

“Family, friends, teammates, coaches and fans that handed out support especially when your lives were already full, you helped more than you know,” he wrote. “As I move forward with the next phase of my life, I am forever grateful to all of you and the game of baseball.”