From unknown prospect to Chicago Cubs hero, David Bote had himself quite the year. But, looking at the big picture, how do you grade his performance?
Injuries early in the year initially opened the door for Bote, as Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward and Kris Bryant all took turns on the disabled list. Bote capitalized on his opportunities, starting off with a double in his first at-bat in his Major League debut.
Bote initially enjoyed a couple of short stints before permanently finding a home on the Cubs roster. In fact, on the year Bote went back and forth between Iowa and Chicago nine times. That’s right, nine times before he and the Cubs became a steady item on July 26.
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Bote plays the role of Mr. Clutch
His performance on July 26 probably had a lot to do with him never being sent back to Iowa again. With the Cubs trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Bote stepped to the plate and hit a game-tying, two-run homer on an 0-2 pitch. That set the table for Anthony Rizzo, who two pitches later, hit a walk-off home run.
On ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, Bote played the role of hero once again. The Cubs entered the bottom of the ninth inning trailing the Washington Nationals, 3-0, but he changed all of that with one swing of the bat. With the bases loaded, the 25-year-old hit a game-winning, walk-off grand slam.
Prior to those two huge home runs, Bote proved he could even be clutch without the bat. The third-baseman found himself in another bases-loaded situation in a tie game against the Cincinnati Reds. Bote came through and coaxed a walk as the Cubs won 6-5 in 10 innings.
Despite riding high, Bote experienced his share of lows
In his first season with the Cubs, Bote played 74 games at the big league level and posted a batting average of .239. He recorded six home runs while driving in 33 runs and scoring 23 times.
However, just like every player in the league, Bote went through rough patches of his own. After hitting the walk-off grand slam on August 12, Bote really stumbled. For the rest of the season, he hit just .176.
During that stretch Bote looked lost at the plate at times, striking out 40 times. On the year the rookie struck out 60 times total, meaning his strikeout rate had jumped up five percent.
Also, after gaining everyone’s attention with the long ball, Bote’s power numbers disappeared the final month of the season. In all of September Bote failed to hit a home run and his last long-ball of the season came back on Aug. 26 against the Reds.
Coming in as a relatively unknown entity, the Cubs certainly didn’t expect much from Bote this season. He more than exceeded any realistic expectations the Cubs had for him, if any, and did an exceptional job of filling in for Bryant and other injured Cubs.
He earned himself a spot on this team and it will be interesting to see if takes another big step forward next season or if his late-season slide carries over into 2019.