Cubs: David Bote is primed for a breakout 2021 season
The Chicago Cubs are heading into 2021 with David Bote manning second base despite a strong showing in spring from Nico Hoerner. It’s not particularly surprising given Hoerner’s performance from last year as well as service time considerations, but it is a huge opportunity for Bote to take a step forward at the plate in 2021 with more consistent plate appearances.
Bote had a hot spring of his own which certainly made the decision easier for the Cubs, but there’s reason to believe that he can keep it up in the regular season. While likely not the contact bat the team could use at second base, Bote’s shown he has some real thunder in his bat that, if he could wield it correctly, would make him a pretty solid contributor to the team overall.
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Last year, despite putting up lackluster numbers, Bote ranked in the 91st percentile in exit velocity and 95th in hard hit percentage. Yes, I know, it is small sample size, but his spring indicates that those rankings were no fluke. A .311 batting average with a slugging percentage north of .600 shows that he can really generate some pop.
Moreover, Bote’s BABIP from last year was .228, indicating his luck was utterly atrocious especially with how hard he was hitting the ball. While it’s unlikely his numbers from spring will continue, there has to be some regression to the mean with his BABIP. I think some better luck combined with that extra playing time at second could help Bote reach the heights that his tools say he can reach.
David Bote is some better BABIP luck away from breaking out with the Cubs
Now, while I don’t expect Bote to reach the heights of the team’s core four players, he could blossom into a really solid above average hitter of his own.
An interesting comparison on Baseball Savant has his 2020 season profile similarly to Brian Anderson’s 2020 season with the Marlins, something that isn’t at all that unrealistic for Bote. He has the on-base ability to approach Anderson’s numbers and, while he’s not the best at hitting for average, the power is there to make up for it.
I am extremely intrigued by what Bote could do this season with the Cubs now that he has this opportunity. He’s shown he has the tools to be more than a run-of-the-mill bench player and now is the time to show it. A breakout season for him would be big for the team’s 2021 division hopes.