Goatriders of the Apocalypse

2008 Cubs Recap: Derrek Lee


Derrek Lee's 2005 season:

  • Games: 158
  • Ab:  594
  • Runs:  120
  • Hits:  199
  • Doubles:  50
  • Triples:  3
  • Home Runs:  46
  • RBI:  107
  • SB  15
  • BA: .335
  • OBP:  .418
  • SLG:  .662
  • OPS+: 174
  • TB:  393

Although we spend an awful lot of time here splooging about our local heroes, and certainly we have spit out a lot of content about 2005 Derrek Lee, I honestly do not think we have said enough about this particular performance.  It is pointless to compare it to Sammy Sosa at his certain steroid-soaked peak.  But let's throw the Infamous 1987 MVP-winning Andre Dawson out here:

  • Games: 153
  • AB:  621
  • Runs:   90
  • Hits:  178
  • Doubles:  24
  • Triples:  2
  • Home Runs:  49
  • RBI:  137
  • SB:  11
  • BA:  .287
  • OBP:  .328
  • SLG:  .568
  • OBP+ 130
  • TB:  353

So, except for the RBIs, which is completely attributable to the number of men on base in front of Dawson, Lee's 2005 bests Dawson's 1987 in every way.

Now, let's dredge up the best year of Mr. Cub's illustrious career, 1958:

  • Games: 154 (all of 'em)
  • AB:  617
  • Runs:  119
  • Hits:  193
  • Doubles:  23
  • Triples: 11  (damn!  Nice wheels, Ern)
  • Home Runs:  47
  • RBI:  129
  • SB:   4   (never mind)
  • BA:  .313
  • OBP:  .366
  • SLG:  .614
  • OBP+  156
  • TB:  379

Verrrry sexay, and his 1959 was almost exactly the same.  Mr. Cub won the MVP both those years, of course.  Neither one was any better than 2005, so I can say with complete certainity that our guy, Mr. Lee, had one of the three greatest "clean" seasons in "modern Cubs history" (after Hack Wilson/Babe Ruth era).

Of course, noted fatass Scott Eyre caused Lee to collide in the basepath with Rafael Furcal in 2006, his wrist broke, his power waned, and thus the context has been set for the 2008 recap of Lee's year, along with my constant and misguided criticism of his lack of aggressiveness throughout this campaign (too many links to even post), and whether any of the above should have any effect on the status quo as it pertains to his future role on the team.

In 2008, Lee had a quiet, solid year.  He hit nearly .300, 20 homers, 90 ribeyes, a 110 OPS+.  He gave us his usual stellar first base fielding.  On one hand, I have always compared a slick-fielding first baseman to a Mercedes hood ornament on a Ford Escort, particularly on a bad team.  It's a total luxury.  On the other hand, there is no denying that he has saved us countless runs over his five years here, which has resulted in 3-4 games a year, and where would we have been the past couple of years without those games?

Truth be told, I don't have much problem with his abilities or his contribution.  A 110 OPS+ is weak for a first baseman, traditionally a spot teams rely on for more production.  I don't need to tell you, though, that this is not a traditionally constructed ballclub.  We have a power-hitting catcher, a luxury few clubs have currently.  One of our most important pieces is Mark DeRosa, a jack-of-all-trades.  And of course, we have the best rotation in the majors.  So it doesn't hurt us to have a slightly souped-up Mark Grace at first.

The problem is all in the approach.  The past two years, Lou Pinella stuck Derrek in the 3-hole, as if he was the best hitter on the team.  The past two years, Derrek himself approached his at-bats with great patience and caution, as if he was the 2005 Lee.  The 2005 Lee could take pitches with runs on the basepaths, and take the occassional walk, because we all knew that next time, he was more than likely gonna crush the ball somewhere and drive guys in.

But now, Lee is more likely to GIDP (27) than go yard.  So, if you have your typical game, where Lee is at bat twice with RISP, and he walks once and GIDP the other time, I maintain this is not the production you want from the 3 hole.  I'm not asking him to be more aggressive at the plate - it goes against who he is, and I am also afraid it would result in even more GIDP, with the added bonus of fewer walks.  Besides, as the Midwest Distributor of "Pleading For Patience", I WANT to see all Cubs hitters take pitches.  Just, not so much out of our third hitter anymore.

This off-season, Lee has been mentioned in various trade rumors.  Personally, when I hear a rumor that includes him, I immediately discount it.  There is only one team in all of baseball that could use a slick-fielding, 110 OPS+ hitting first baseman, and that is the team with the best rotation depth, who can benefit the most from the defensive tautness that Lee provides, and that's the one we write about daily.  He needs to stay.

However, there are absolutely no metrics anymore that you can come up with that indicate Derrek Lee still deserves to hit third.  If Lou trots him back out there next year in the three-hole, then I intend to bitch about it every single day on here until he changes his ways.



The stat that amazes me most...

Is that Dawson played in 153 games. The Hawk had no knees for pete's sake.

Comment moved to

Kurt's post.

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