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Cubs: Jake Marisnick has been everything we could have asked for

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Jake Marisnick was hardly the most notable offseason transaction the Chicago Cubs made this past winter.

The Cubs‘ offseason was defined by a move that was almost universally loathed, that being the Yu Darvish trade. Making a blockbuster involving the 2020 runner-up for the National League Cy Young Award was enough to make a stir by itself. The inclusion of Victor Caratini and team president Jed Hoyer’s decision to go with a younger prospect haul made the deal all the more curious.

Darvish’s departure wasn’t the only thing Cubs fans had on their minds this offseason. Two fan favorites (Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester) departed, while the club brought another (Jake Arrieta) back to the North Side.

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But Jake Marisnick? No, a platoon outfielder coming off an injury-riddled 2020 was never likely to attract much fanfare.

Chicago was essentially signing Marisnick to be the new Albert Almora when it inked the 30-year-old to a one-year, $1 million deal with a club option for 2022. He would purportedly be a guy who could hit left-handers and be a late-game defensive substitution. Instead, Marisnick has been so much more.

Jake Marisnick has been everything Cubs could have possibly asked for thus far

Contrary to the above general assumption, Marisnick has started his fair share of starts and taken at-bats against right-handers, as well as left-handers. He’s been quite the surprise as a guy who’s helped jumpstart Chicago’s offense after a sluggish start.

Marisnick is slashing .271/.364/.604 with three homers (eight extra-base hits in total) and 12 RBI. He has scored 10 runs and stolen two bases. For reference: Marisnick’s 158 wRC+ value is the exact same mark he posted in 16 games with the New York Mets last season.

The Riverside, California native has been especially strong in the past two weeks, slashing .290/.353/.710 with a 178 wRC+.

The numbers are strong. They’re even better when considering Marisnick has actually been a reverse platoon guy in totality. He came into Tuesday’s action with a .963 OPS against right-handers as compared to a .754 OPS against lefties.

Now, his performance might be somewhat deceptive considering Marisnick has a far lower OPS against right-handed starters and has torched lefty starters. But it’s not as if he can’t have quality at-bats against right-handers.

Additionally, Marisnick is making tangible gains in terms of the batted ball numbers. His line-drive rate is close to 50 percent, and the hard-hit rate is the best of his career.

That isn’t to say there won’t be regression.

Marisnick came into Tuesday’s games with a .233 xBA and .372 xSLG. He strikes out quite a bit for someone with a career walk rate closer to five percent. It’s a long season, and it seems unlikely a guy with those expected metrics can sustain this level of success.

Still, Marisnick is finding ways to produce and make an impact. The worst part of his season has been his defense (32nd percentile in outs above average), but that’s also the aspect of performance likely to see the most improvement.

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Realistically, the Cubs couldn’t possibly ask for more from Marisnick. He’s been a terrific catalyst.