Looking back at the last 10 years of Cubs spring training standouts

Dan O'Keefe
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs in action against the New York Mets during game one of the 2015 MLB National League Championship Series at Citi Field on October 17, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cubs 4-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs in action against the New York Mets during game one of the 2015 MLB National League Championship Series at Citi Field on October 17, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cubs 4-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Mike Freeman / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs spring training MVPs of years past: 2018 – Mike Freeman

Who?

I have literally no memory of this man.  Somehow, Mike “I want to break” Freeman (nickname unconfirmed) shone as the forgotten star of the 2018 spring, hitting .408 with an OPS of 1.069 in his 22 games in Arizona.  After his disappointing call-up to end the 2017 season, he completely flipped the script.  Even then, our own Jake Misener was recommending caution, because as we’ve seen in previous years, spring numbers don’t typically translate to summer stats.

Did he sustain it?

Nope.

Freeman appeared in one game for the 2018 Cubs, a September matchup with the Pirates where he laid down a sacrifice bunt as a pinch hitter.  The Cubs released him that winter, but at least he can say that, as a member of the major league roster, he was undefeated for the 2018 season.

Freeman has spent the past few years in Ohio, first with Cleveland, and most recently with Cincinnati as a utility infielder.

Chicago Cubs spring training MVPs of years past: 2019 –  David Bote

After appearing in the 2018 season as an injury replacement for Ben Zobrist and Kris Bryant, Bote looked to make a name for himself before the start of the 2019 season.  He did just that, hitting .442 with 19 hits and 10 walks against 10 strikeouts.  He also hit a walk-off homer against the Angels on March 6, which is something I’m sure he still remembers.  His play in preseason and the beginning of the regular season earned him a five-year contract extension in April 2019.

Did he sustain it?

While he didn’t sustain his sky-high batting average in the regular season, he did manage to hit a respectable .257 with 11 home runs for the rest of the 2019 campaign. That’s about where the good news ends, though.  Bote’s performance in 2020 and 2021 dipped, hitting .200 and .199 for those seasons, respectively.  Unlike most of the Cubs’ 2019 squad, he’s still on the roster, likely due to his cheap contract.

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