Will the next Albert Pujols please stand up

Albert Pujols is gone, so who will be the next rock star in St. Louis? You don't have to go far to find the answer.

David Freese was the king of October baseball in the 2011 World Series. He set a playoff record by driving in 21 runs. His numbers in the postseason were through the roof and his heroics thrust the Cardinals to their 11th World Championship and more importantly, gave Cardinal fans another star to embrace and obsess about.

Even if Albert Pujols had stayed in the offseason, David Freese's magical run last year would have taken some of Pujols' stardom in St. Louis.

That's a bold statement to make, but there's one thing that Freese has over Pujols that wins local fans over: he's a hometown kid. Freese played baseball at Lafayette High School in Wildwood, Missouri. He grew up idolizing famous Cardinals like Ozzie Smith and Willie McGhee.

Cardinal fans not only love him for being a key part of the World Series run, but they can relate to him. They are his neighbors, people he grew up around, ran into at the gas station, or played youth baseball with their now adult kids.

You may say this happens to any guy who plays a major role in a World Series championship, but 2006 World Series heroes Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina never became the rock stars they could have been.

Freese simply has the intangibles on his side to become the next hero in St. Louis. The fans will give him a standing ovation on opening day for their appreciation of what he did last postseason. He'll also become the guy fans will always give out a cheer just like every time Albert Pujols stepped to the plate.

As far as I'm concerned, If Freese can stay healthy, he has the talent and the potential to embrace this newfound stardom and become another hometown favorite, like Ozzie Smith, Stan Musial, Lou Brock, and yes, eventually Albert Pujols' will be remembered as a Cardinals.

One thing is for sure: The fans will be on Freese's side.

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