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Chicago Cubs: Miguel Montero is hitting his stride in 2017

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Oct 15, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs pinch hitter Miguel Montero hits a grand slam against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the eighth inning in game one of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs pinch hitter Miguel Montero hits a grand slam against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the eighth inning in game one of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Cubs’ catcher Miguel Montero is off to a fast start in 2017, picking up right where he left off last year.

The Chicago Cubs completed a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014 that sent Miguel Montero to the north side of Chicago. Along with his veteran presence behind the plate, Montero’s hefty salary followed him to Chicago.

The Cubs paid Montero $12 million in 2015 for 15 home runs and 53 RBI in 113 games. That was not bad considering Montero recorded an OBP of .345 and a slugging percentage of .409 that year.

In the following season, 2016, Montero’s numbers dropped dramatically as he was forced to share time with Willson Contreras when he was called up in June.

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Montero appeared in 86 games during the 2016 season and slashed .216/.327/.357 with eight home runs and 33 RBI. The seasoned veteran did show some positive signs in 2016.

In Game 1 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Montero hit a grand slam to propel the Cubs to an 8-4 win.

Montero would not be done there. In Game 7 of the World Series, Montero drove in the Cubs eighth and final run in the top of the tenth inning. That run would be the difference in the game, and insured the Cubs would end their 108-year Championship drought.

Hot start to 2017

Whether it was Montero’s Game 7 RBI or something else, Montero is seeing the ball great thus far in 2017.

Montero is serving as the back-up catcher to Willson Contreras this year, and is not receiving as much playing time as he may like. However, Montero is making the best of the at-bats he does get.

So far in 2017, Montero has appeared in 11 games. In those games, the 33-year-old is slashing .394/.429/.606.

Montero also has two home runs and three RBI so far in 2017. One of those home runs came on Saturday against the Boston Red Sox. In the seventh inning, Montero took a pitch from Red Sox’s pitcher Steven Wright and sent it 450 feet into the seats in right-center. That moon shot tied the game at four in what would eventually be a Chicago Cubs victory.

Can he keep it up?

The answer we would all like to respond with is yes, but that may not be the case. While the hot start is promising, expecting a player who does not play everyday to maintain a .429 OBP or a .606 slugging percentage is far-fetched.

Cubs fans would like to see Montero settle into a nice grove and it is possible. He is only 33 years old, and will be a free agent at the end of 2017. Montero could be playing for his baseball life this season.

It is nice to see Montero get off to a quick start in 2017, especially after the rough season he had in 2016. With that being said, expect his numbers to come down as the season moves forward, but don’t expect them to bottom out like they did last year.

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Montero is a good player to have on the team. He provides leadership to Contreras as well as a left-handed bat off the bench. If Montero can continue his success at the plate, a contract extension may not be out of the question. First, he will have to prove that he can continue to carry his weight at the dish.

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