More power to him: Freese feels good at plate

More power to him: Freese feels good at plate

ANAHEIM -- The advancement of sabermetric statistics has created a generation of baseball pundits and fans who generally dismiss the importance of RBIs when it comes to evaluating the value of offensive players.

It's safe to say David Freese is not among them.

"RBIs and runs are big, because that's what wins games," the Angels third baseman said. "You have to outscore the opponent."

Freese is biased, of course.

He isn't getting on base at a high rate -- his on-base percentage is .288, 26 points below the Major League average -- but his power numbers are showing up in a big way.

Entering Tuesday's game against the Rays, Freese had nine home runs (one fewer than he hit all of last season) and 29 RBIs (15 more than he had at this point last year). His slugging percentage was .432, 50 points higher than his average the last two seasons. And he was on pace for 28 homers and 90 RBIs.

Freese hasn't sniffed that since his All-Star season in 2012, when he hit 20 home runs and drove in 79 for the Cardinals.

He felt it was in there, though.

"I don't want to talk about health too much because there's a lot more that is involved than just feeling good, but my legs feel good," Freese said. "I think it shows when I'm running a little bit and defensively. You use your legs to hit and you use your legs to slug. Right now I feel good."

Freese, 32, had bone spurs removed from his left foot over the offseason and entered his final season before free agency in better shape. His batting average is still stuck at .237 and he's walking a career low 5.8 percent of the time. But Freese's hard-hit rate of 35.1 percent -- available on FanGraphs -- trails only Mike Trout for the team lead, and he sports an .822 OPS with runners in scoring position.

"You don't want to look at numbers, you don't want to chase numbers; that'll make for a long season," said Freese, who entered Tuesday with nine hits in his last 21 at-bats. "But when you're doing stuff to help the team, especially on a consistent basis, you'll be a lot happier with what you're doing."

Worth noting

• Trout made his second start at designated hitter on Tuesday. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he just wanted to get his superstar center fielder off his feet, with the Angels winding down a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. Kirk Nieuwenhuis started Tuesday's game in center field.

• The Angels gave away Kole Calhoun-themed visors on Tuesday, topped with fake red hair. Asked about the chances of wearing one of those at the beach this summer, Scioscia quipped: "Same percentage chance of me being on the beach."

Matt Shoemaker visited Olive Elementary School in Anaheim on Tuesday morning as part of the Angels' Adopt-A-School program, which is in its seventh year. Each year, the Angels work with the Orange County Department of Education to identify five high schools and four elementary schools to adopt.

The Angels Baseball Foundation then donates $2,000 to each school and provides a supply pack to each child. The foundation also provides $2,500 to assist the school's baseball and softball programs, as well as a donation of Angels tickets to be used as part of the school's incentive programs.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.