The asterisk refers to the fact that the Freel Dog cannot physically play every day. The Reds will need to mix in some C-Patt from time to time. But has Freel just flat-out won this job with his solid play or what. Hopefully he keeps it up -- he's headed for a career year. His highest batting average and on-base percentage in a season in which he had over 200 at-bats was .277/.375 in 2004 (career-high 505 at bats). In addition, Freel hit .271 with a .372 OBP in 2005 (369 ABs) and also hit .271 in 2006 with a OBP of .363 (454 ABs).
Freel is a consistent .275 hitter with a good on-base percentage when he gets a lot of starts. His career numbers indicates he plays better the more ABs he gets. This would conflict with the opinion some have that Freel breaks down too easy. Yes, he is going to get banged up from time to time with the hard-nosed manner in which he plays, but as long as he can avoid the major injuries, he will be fine. Freel's worst year was last year (.245/.308) when he only had 277 ABs and was hurt all season, even when he played. Again, Freel is not an everyday CF like Grady Sizemore is an everyday CF, Corey Patterson is going to need to play on occasion, but you can pretty much mark down Ryan Freel as the Reds' everyday CF IMO. He has won the job with his on-field performance.
Loved it when he put a stop to all the "quick pitching" that Cliff Lee was trying to pull. Freel stared right back at him, then got a big hit which started a two-run inning.