Already somewhat of a hero for the 2018 Chicago Cubs, David Bote has proven that he can have value. Will the team have a spot for him on the roster in 2019?
Spoiler: The answer is yes.
While Tommy La Stella is probably the best pinch hitter in baseball, he doesn’t play too great of defense. Bote can play above average at two positions, and average at a third. Second base and third base are his specialty, while being able to play shortstop as well. Shortstop is a bit of a need right now, with Addison Russell on administrative leave facing a potential suspension and Javier Baez having played in approximately 154 games out of a possible 162, he is probably a little gassed.
Bote came onto the scene in a big way fire earlier in the season. Through July, Bote posted a .340 average with a .431 OBP. Since then it has been a struggle. He really became known to the entire baseball world on the night of Aug. 12. He hit a walk-off grand slam against the Washington Nationals, unofficially ending Washington’s season. Bote has been very good at third base, filling in when Kris Bryant was hurt. He’s posted 4 DRS and a 22.5 UZR/150 at the hot corner. La Stella at third? -1 DRS with a -0.1 UZR/150.
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Their slash lines against left-handed pitching are also miles apart.
La Stella: .111/.273/.111. Granted, this is only in 18 at-bats, but it’s clear Bote is the better hitter against lefties.
Bote has La Stella beat in defensive ability, power and hitting southpaws. Bote has 19 home runs across two levels this season. For reference, Tommy La Stella has 34 professional home runs. Bote has more than half of La Stella’s career total in one season.
La Stella is the one mentioned because he is the last guy on the roster, the 25th man. With the Addison Russell situation being unresolved, and him possibly not being on the team next year, Bote may very well replace Addison Russell on the roster.
Of course, Bote isn’t quite to a “playing every day” level yet. He may never get there, but with his skill set, being a valuable bench player that can hit home runs and play defense is valuable to any team.