Bote's Offense, Line Drive Rate, More Gallardo, Art with Happ, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Bote’s Offense, Line Drive Rate, More Gallardo, Art with Happ, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I have limited availability right now due to family travels, so you’ll have to forgive whatever the weekend winds up looking like. We’ll still figure out a way to be on anything big that breaks, but you may need to give me a little leeway.

Bullets …

  • I don’t know why David Bote popped into my head yesterday, but here’s something I was thinking about:

  • I remain a big Bote fan for who he is: a solid bat (he was a 106 wRC+ overall last year with a .362 OBP – third highest on the team) who can play adequate or better defense at third and second base, can be an emergency option at shortstop, and could probably also play first base and the outfield corners. Could he plausibly win a starting job as the second baseman? I suppose it’s possible, and if the Cubs don’t add externally, he might get that shot. I worry that with more exposure, his susceptibility to high fastballs and the breaking stuff would start to damage the results more than when he can be deployed a little more strategically – he did cut his strikeout rate last year, but it was still a very elevated 26.1%, leaving him susceptible to serious results problems if the hard contact ever fades. So, all that said, I think it’s much more likely that he remains a really good bench guy, and I’m happy the Cubs have him.
  • On Bote having the third best OBP on the team, someone had an interesting follow-up question:

  • Looking at those adjusted stats is a trip, but also frequently confirms our anecdotal concerns: the Cubs not only hit the ball on the ground too much as a team, they also had the second worst line drive rate in all of baseball.
  • So, generally speaking, among the things we’d like to see more of from the Cubs (on paper) by the time they’re finished with the offseason: higher contact rates, lower groundball rates, higher line drive rates. Set all the advanced analysis aside for a moment, and just think about those things – it just means guys who are squaring the ball up more frequently. That seems like a good thing to add.
  • I actually tend to think I’ve gotten a little too away from even considering line drive rate when reviewing player performance. It becomes a little too easy to focus solely on hard contact and exit velocity, but even if you’re looking at those together with average launch angle, you can lose sight of guys who just have a knack for squaring up the ball and generating base hits. There is a repeatable skill embedded in there, and it’s distinct from *elevating* hard contact for power. I will try to do a better job on this front in 2020.
  • A miscellaneous note to that end: league average line drive rate in 2019 was 21.4%, and I bet you could guess the few Cubs regulars who exceeded that mark … it’s Rizzo, Bote, and Victor Caratini. That’s it. And the guys who did it in a partial year? I bet you could guess them, too … it’s Nick Castellanos, Robel Garcia, and Nico Hoerner.
  • More from Bryant on pitching prospect Richard Gallardo, whom we discussed a bit yesterday:

  • Ian Happ’s collaborative art project came to fruition:

  • As an aside, I followed that artist on IG because of Happ’s project, and dang, the guy is a really fun and impressive follow:

View this post on Instagram

Baseball crowd drawer for hire

A post shared by Pat Vale (@patrickvaleartist) on

  • Pretty remarkable how much testing goes on and how few positive tests there are (just eight this year, I believe?):

  • Either players just aren’t doping, the tests are flawed, or the banned substance list is not comprehensive enough. Some associated with the game still insist there is a lot of undetected PED use, but it does seem like – to an outsider – that’s a butt load of testing, and I know that the banned substance list is actually enormous.
  • A fun FYI for anyone shopping at Obvious Shirts during their Black Friday sale (yesterday through Monday) – they’re also giving out 10 $100 gift cards at random to anyone who makes a purchase:

Also, Amazon has started their overload of Cyber Monday Deals for this weekend, so make sure you check it out. #ad

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.