Over his short time with the Chicago Cubs, David Bote has relatively served as a utility infielder. But due to his strong play this season, especially as of late, it’s time Bote found a more permanent position as the Cubs everyday second baseman.
Being a platoon player simply isn’t going to cut it anymore for David Bote. This season, the 26-year old is proving that he deserves regular playing time in the Chicago Cubs lineup and they need to reward him.
At the plate, Bote has already taken tremendous strides in comparison to last season. His batting average is nearly 40 points higher at .279, and his on-base percentage is .355, good for fourth on the Cubs roster.
Bote’s approach at the plate has also been much better this season and certainly is a big reason for his success. He’s being more patient and seeing more pitches while not chasing. He’s cut down his strikeout rate by nearly four percent, and his walk rate has slightly increased in comparison to last season.
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He’s shown more power at the plate as well, hitting eight home runs, which surpassed his last season total of six in 17 fewer games. He’s also one of four Cubs on the year to drive in 30 or more runs this season, with 32 RBIs.
Just last week against the Rockies, Bote drove in seven runs in a game where he went 4-for-4 at the plate with a three-run homer. In that game, he became the first Cubs second baseman to record seven RBI since Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. While people certainly remember his walk-off grand slam against the Washington Nationals last year, this game will be one Cubs fans talk about for a long time.
Bote’s strong play has shown over the last couple of weeks. In his 14 starts, Bote has a slash of .375/.434/.708 with four long balls and 15 RBIs.
Cubs other options have struggled
If the Cubs have a position in the field that’s up for grabs this season its second base. Early in the year, it looked like Ben Zobrist would serve as the primary second baseman while splitting time in the outfield. Ultimately, the 14-year veteran struggled at the plate, recording just one extra-base hit in his 26 games before taking a leave of absence due to personal reasons. Zobrist took his leave on May 8th, and with each passing day it becomes more likely the fan-favorite will not return to the Cubs.
With Zobrist’s departure, the door was opened for Addison Russell to earn a lot of playing time at second base amidst his comeback from suspension. The former shortstop started showing flashes of what he was in 2016, but due to an injured hand, he has struggled. In his last seven games, Russell is hitting .150 at the plate with just three hits and five strikeouts in 20 at-bats.
The Cubs other option at second base, Daniel Descalso, looked like the solution early in the season. But since his hot start, he has gone on to have arguably his worst season in the big leagues. He’s hitting a career-low .193 at the plate with the highest strikeout rate of his career at 26.5 percent.
Bote can hold his own in the field at second base
Bote’s performance to this point in the season is miles ahead of any of the Cubs other options at second base. An argument could be made for Russell based solely on his defense, sure. But Bote is a better hitter right now, and Bote isn’t all that bad at second base either.
On the season, Bote has committed a total of seven errors in the field. Five of those have come at third base, and he’s only committed two errors at second base. At second base, Bote has seen nearly 20 more chances in the field and has a .977 fielding percentage as opposed to a .925 fielding percentage at third base. To go along with that, Bote’s DRS at second base is plus-four compared to negative-one at third base.
Overall, maybe Bote is just better at second base than he is at third base. His results speak for themselves, and lately, Bote has been starting more frequently at second base. In his last 10 games started, seven of those have come at second base.