People Should Pay Attention to David Bote

Kris Bryant has now been out for over a month and the Cubs haven’t really missed him at all. The Cubs hitters have been raking this year and they’ve had the best offense in the National League so far. The chart below shows the top 5 offensive teams in the National League this season. The chart shows the team WAR, Batting Average and on-base percentage. The Cubs lead in all four of these categories.

Team WAR Batting Avg On Base %
Cubs 24.3 0.263 0.341
Dodgers 22.3 0.244 0.327
Braves 21.2 0.260 0.324
Brewers 19.1 0.251 0.318
Cardinals 19.1 0.250 0.321

The point of this post is to highlight one player in particular though. David Bote has been incredible for the Cubs this season. Bote is currently hitting .283 with 6 HR and 24 RBI in just 131 plate appearances. Bote has seemingly come out of nowhere and like others who have also broke out, he has tweaked his approach and his launch angle. causing him to put more balls in the air. Beyond that though, he has come up huge in high leverage situations. Below is Bote’s 2-out 2-strike walk off grand slam to give the Cubs a 4-3 win over Washington on August 12th.

Bote has 3 walk offs this year (2 home runs, 1 walk). Below is a chart of the top 5 Cubs hitters in Win Probability Added (WPA). Just a reminder Win Probability captures the change from one plate appearance to the next and credits or debits the player based on how much their action increased their team’s odds of winning (Fangraphs). The total Cubs’ WPA below is for the 2018 season so far.

Player WPA
Javier Baez 2.57
Anthony Rizzo 2.06
David Bote 2.02
Ben Zobrist 1.69
Jason Heyward 0.89

David Bote is 3rd on the list and he’s only had 131 plate appearances versus the 515 Baez has had and the 533 for Rizzo. Below is the Cubs’ top 5 WPA for just the last month.

Player WPA
David Bote 1.18
Anthony Rizzo 1.09
Daniel Murphy 0.63
Javier Baez 0.24
Ben Zobrist 0.22

Bote has made the most impact of any hitter on the Cubs over the last 30 days. David Bote hasn’t been up too long, so is there any way to see if his performance is sustainable? The clutch part, I don’t know, but the most amazing part of David Bote is how hard he hits the ball. Below is a chart of the top 10 MLB hitters (minimum 80 batted balls) in Average Exit Velocity (speed at which the ball leaves the hitter’s bat). Also shown on the far right is the percentage of balls hit with an exit velocity over 95 mph.

Rank Team Player Avg (mph) % > 95 MPH
1 NYY  Aaron Judge 95.8 56.3%
2 CHC  David Bote 94.9 57.8%
3 NYY  Giancarlo Stanton 94.5 52.8%
4 DET  Miguel Cabrera 94.3 53.7%
5 SEA  Nelson Cruz 94.3 50.6%
6 WAS  Ryan Zimmerman 93.5 54.3%
7 TEX Joey Gallo 93.5 47.2%
8 BOS  J.D. Martinez 93.4 54.1%
9 OAK  Matt Olson 93.3 52.1%
10 SEA  Robinson Cano 93.0 52.1%

It’s hard to ignore the names that appear on this list. Judge, Stanton, Cabrera, Cruz. Big-time power-hitters. Yet, David Bote is right up there. He also has the highest percent of balls with a exit velocity over 95 mph. Bote does have a 24% strikeout rate, which is a little high, so if he can improve that he definitely has enough power to maintain what he is doing. As long as he continues to make contact, he will make hard contact. He’s been clutch this year and who knows if he’ll keep that up, but what we can say is he has shown major power, which makes him much more intriguing than just a Kris Bryant fill-in. Kris Bryant will come back soon, Addison Russell will likely return from the DL and create a very loaded Cubs infield with Daniel Murphy, Javier Baez, Ben Zobrist, Tommy La Stella and of course, David Bote. There’s not enough playing time for everyone and should the Cubs make the playoffs, there likely won’t be room for all of them. It’s a good problem to have for the Cubs, but they might need to make some tough decisions.

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