Chicago Cubs: 3 in-house universal DH candidates: #2 – David Bote
David Bote is yet to live up to the five-year contract extension Theo Epstein handed out to him early in his career. He’s come up with some big-time clutch hits, but the numbers just haven’t been there.
Last year, injuries impacted him at the plate – and although he’s not expected to be ready for the start of the season, there’s hope that he’ll bounce back from shoulder surgery and be at 100 percent in 2022. Bote has always hit the ball hard. Looking back at 2020 (we’ll look past 2021 given he was playing through injury), the infielder ranked in the top six percent of the league in hard hit percentage and the top nine percent in average exit velocity.
Despite those numbers, Bote still batted just .200 during that shortened 2020 campaign – finishing the year with a .711 OPS and 90 OPS+. That’s been the story for most of his career: he hits the ball hard, but it just hasn’t translated in the way the Cubs had hoped for.
Perhaps giving him regular reps as the team’s DH (he’s rarely had a consistent daily role) will allow him to finally turn that corner and turn consistent, hard contact into results. With the infield picture largely settled with the return of Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal – not to mention last summer’s darlings, Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom – this might be the best way for Bote to carve out a spot on this team.