Who's more valuable: David Bote or Ian Happ?


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Patrick Gorski - USA Today Sports
Patrick Gorski - USA Today Sports

Putting his foot down and saying that he’d outgrown the minors worked for Victor Caratini, as Chris Gimenez was struggling with a .143 batting average and the Cubs needed a backup catcher, but what do they do with David Bote now as a long-term assignment is concerned?

In his fifth trip to the big leagues this season, Bote has been nothing short of stellar, whether subbing for Kris Bryant at third or when filling in for Javier Baez at second. There’s no question that Bote outshines Ian Happ and even Tommy La Stella as a third baseman, and in my opinion, he’s every bit as reliable as Kris Bryant.

Bote is now error free in 157 innings with the Cubs, compared to Bryant’s ten errors in 239 innings this season. His five doubles, a triple and two home-runs mean that he’s hitting for extra bases better than 10% of the time, and with an average exit velocity of 96.3 mph, even renowned sluggers like Aaron Judge are left chasing the Cubs’ newest slugging phenom.

Bryant’s nagging shoulder injury initially left Cubs’ fans wondering and worrying about his return, but as Bote rolls on, you hear less and less about Kris Bryant. By his admission, Bryant’s shoulder injury will require extreme maintenance, including the possibility of a lighter playing schedule, and at this point, he hasn’t even started swinging a bat again.

Bote has earned his place among the big-leaguers, making diving stabs and laser-like throws a la Javier Baez, and offensively, his bat never seems to rest. Bote is currently slashing .338/.427/.529, which by all accounts is the measure of a great batsman, and he’s not afraid to take his walks. Having drawn ten walks in 82 plate appearances, he’s walking at a 12.2% rate, as opposed to his strikeout rate which currently stands at 20.7%; while that may seem high, the league average is right around 20%.

While currently serving at second and third base for the Cubs, Bote’s 6’1”, 210 lb. frame makes him readily convertible to almost any position on the field. His arm appears worthy of playing the outfield, and with a little work, he could easily be converted to a shortstop.

With Ben Zobrist now at age 37, Ian Happ was considered the likely replacement, but as Happ continues to stumble, Bote looks more and more like a guy who could replace Big Ben when retirement finally comes. Although Bote doesn’t switch-hit, his average against right-handed pitchers is a more than respectable .342: when Happ bats left-handed against right-handed pitchers, his average is only .245, so there is no advantage to Happ’s ability to switch hit when compared to playing him over Bote. When it comes to facing southpaws, Happ is only batting .218, while Bote is standing tall with a .333 batting average.

Just because the non-waiver trade deadline has passed, doesn’t mean that the trading stops; it’s just a little bit more of a process. The Cubs’ picked up right-handed reliever Jorge De La Rosa today after Arizona cut him last week, and I’m not sure they’re done yet. I once thought that Bote would make excellent trade bait, but with the recent hitting and fielding clinics that he’s put on, I’m more inclined to think that Happ would now go, should the Cubbies find another deal on a player.

As the season grinds on, David Bote is being given more and more opportunities to prove his worth, and his stock seems to go up daily. Just over a month ago nobody even knew his name, and now they’re wearing t-shirts and jerseys, that proudly bear it. In the words of my friend, Evan Altman, “EveryBoteIN.’

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