Chicago Cubs: If you don’t already, it’s time to believe in David Bote

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

If you were one of the few Chicago Cubs fans not yet aboard the David Bote hype train, Sunday’s miraculous walk-off win likely got you to punch a ticket.

I’ll grant you this. I wasn’t all aboard – although, looking back, I probably should have been. But after rookie David Bote hit a two-strike, two-out, pinch-hit walk-off grand slam to lift the Chicago Cubs over the Washington Nationals Sunday – I’m donning a Bote jersey and a conductor hat on this train.

It was one of those moments you’ll never forget as a fan. And we’re not talking just as a Cubs fan, but as a lover of our nation’s game. On a night where starting pitching stole the show – at least for the first seven innings – offense reigned supreme in the end.

Former Washington reliever Brandon Kintzler allowed a pair of runs in the top of the ninth. At the time, they looked like insurance tallies for a team hoping to pick up momentum by winning two of three from a likely playoff team in the Cubs. Instead, the Nats became a footnote on the wrong side of history – thanks to the exploits of a guy who never graced top prospect lists or seemed particularly likely to make an impact in Chicago.

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"“Today, I said, ‘You know what, I’m not going to get beat down there,'” he said. “The one that was down and away that he called a strike, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s what I’m looking for.’ It was a close pitch. I got that [2-2] pitch and I was like, ‘Just get it in the air. Hit it as hard as I can to center field.’ That was the approach and get underneath it.”"

In just 34 games on the North Side, Bote already accrued 1.4 WAR – good for tenth on the Cubs’ roster. He narrowly trails guys like Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward (each at 1.5 WAR, respectively) – helping keep things afloat at Bryant works his way back from injury.

From call-up to standout

Once viewed as a placeholder, though, Bote continues to force his way into the picture. Everyone initially assumed he’d head back to Triple-A Iowa once the former MVP returned to the lineup. But now, that’s hard to envision – especially if he keeps doing what he’s done so far.

In 76 at-bats, the former 18th-round pick boasts a .329/.418/.539 line to go along with a .417 average and 1.259 OPS off the bench. Tommy La Stella once had a chokehold on ‘best pinch hitter’ on this team, but Bote’s quickly challenging the order of things.

"“He’s the kind of guy who gets overlooked, and even when he gets into an organization, based on his Draft status, he’s not talked about often until he does something spectacular,”  Joe Maddon said after the game. “He’s one of those guys who has to show it for people to believe it. He’s worked his way to this situation. Give him credit. It’s going to keep getting better.”"

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So, if you, like me, were waiting for him to ‘show it,’ consider yourself put on notice. With Bote rising to the occasion, the Cubs could not only survive while Kris Bryant works back from injury, but may very well take the fight to the rest of the National League.