Chicago Cubs: Five underrated hitters from recent history
Here we take a look at five hitters who accomplished a lot at the plate with the Chicago Cubs, and perhaps their accomplishments have been overlooked.
In recent years, as the Chicago Cubs have had several good teams, they’ve gotten some significant contributions from players that we don’t talk much about anymore. Here, I’ve identified five hitters who were great at the plate for the Cubs but haven’t gotten much recognition for it. We’ll start with a slugger that lived in the shadows of a much bigger name.
Chicago Cubs: Henry Rodriguez
The summer of 1998 belonged to Sammy Sosa on the north side of Chicago. As we know, the big slugger burst onto the national stage by swatting 66 home runs and helping lead the team to a playoff berth. Yet we can’t forget the contributions of another important slugger during that season.
At age 28, Henry Rodriguez put it all together for the Montreal Expos in 1996. That year, he hit 36 home runs and drove in 103 while making the All-Star team. He followed that up with another solid season in 1997, hitting 26 home runs and driving in 83. After that season, the Cubs acquired him in a trade-in exchange for pitcher Miguel Batista.
Batista did hang around in the majors for a long time and had some respectable seasons, but this is still a trade that turned out just fine for the Cubs. Despite being limited due to injury in 1998 and only getting into 128 games, Rodriguez again hit 31 home runs and drove in 85. Though Sosa was the headliner, he and Rodriguez formed an excellent dynamic duo that season.
In 1999, Rodriguez may have been even better. In 130 games, he hit 26 home runs and drove in 87 while raising his batting average from .251 to a robust .304. In 2000, he continued his excellent home run pace, hitting 18 home runs in 76 games before the Cubs traded him to the Florida Marlins for Ross Gload and Dave Noyce.