Sports News

Journeyman Outfielder Blooms With Cubs

When the Cubs signed the veteran cornerback Mike Tauchman in a minor league deal back in January of last year, the deal was hardly a footnote in a time when Chicago was booming in stars like Dansby Swanson again Cody Bellinger as they try to return to the final debate. Even the signing of veteran players Trey Mancini again Eric Hosmer proved more important to the Cubs’ chances as the season progressed, though injuries eventually forced the club to opt-out of Tauchman’s contract until May 19, 2023.

One year to the day later, the 33-year-old journeyman has emerged as a vital part of Chicago’s roster as they renew their efforts to return to the postseason for the first time in a full season since 2018.

Tauchman is perhaps best known for his 2019 campaign, when he enjoyed a breakout season with the Yankees. The 28-year-old has struggled in 69 plate appearances with the Rockies since making his major league debut in 2017, hitting just .153/.265/.203 in that span, and was traded to the Yankees in the minors. trade during Spring Training 2019. Despite his lack of success at the major league level, Tauchman got a chance with the Yankees in the middle of the season when he was injured Aaron Hicks again Giancarlo Stanton left a hole in the Yankees outfield at close Brett Gardner again Aaron is the judge. He took full advantage and posted 3.1 fWAR in just 87 games as he slashed a career-high .277/.361/.504 with 13 home runs in just 296 trips to the plate.

While his incredible performance in 2019 gave hope that he was emerging as a big league regular, Tauchman will return to Earth for the next two seasons. In 118 games with the Yankees and Giants during the 2020-21 seasons, his power production completely evaporated, leaving him with a paltry .203/.306/.291 slash line despite a still solid 12.3% walk rate. Tauchman’s struggles eventually led to him heading overseas to play the 2022 season with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization.

His 144-game stint in Korea went very well, as he slashed .289/.366/.430 in 648 plate appearances as the team’s first baseman. On the heels of his strong performance, Tauchman tried his luck at returning to ball stateside during the 2022-23 offseason, though he ended up not being able to get anything other than a minor league deal with Chicago. He held his own in 21 games with the Cubs during Spring Training, hitting .225/.354/.400 in 48 trips to the plate, but ultimately couldn’t crack the club’s Opening Day lineup even amid injuries to an outfielder. Seiya Suzuki as the Cubs instead chose to use Mancini once Miles Mastrobuoni in the right field to open the season.

Tauchman’s chance would come later in the season, when Bellinger’s injury and Hosmer’s deep struggles led the club to place the former on the injured list and designate the latter for assignment. With an open hole in the center and only Ian Happ hitting from left in the starting lineup, the Cubs selected Tauchman from the lineup and installed him as the shortstop option in center field while Bellinger was on the shelf. Tauchman took advantage of the opportunity, however, and by the time Bellinger was ready to return to the lineup in June, Tauchman was hitting a .415 clip and playing solid defense in center field when the Cubs opted to move Bellinger temporarily. first base to keep Tauchman’s bat in the lineup.

Tauchman remained one of the club’s top hitting threats throughout the remainder of the season, and he finished the 2023 campaign having surpassed 100 games played and 400 plate appearances in the majors for the first time in his career. His final slash line of .252/.363/.377 showed little power compared to his .227 ISO during his 2019 campaign with the Yankees, but his impressive 14% walk rate was second only to Ian Happ among Cuban hitters and he was able to drop his strikeout rate to just 21.4%, a far cry from his 27% strikeout rate in the majors up until that point in his career.

The showing was enough for Tauchman to not only be offered a major league contract for the first time in his career but also enter Spring Training guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster. While the returning outfield trio of Happ, Bellinger, and Suzuki is joined by the addition of Michael Busch it initially seemed likely to push Tauchman out of the Cubs’ starting lineup as the 2023 season began, a combination of season-ending injuries to Suzuki and Bellinger and the manager. Craig Counsell‘s willingness to play Christopher Morel in third place always opened up a lot of opportunities for Tauchman to continue working as usual in the team’s lineup this season.

Once again, Tauchman has made the most of his chances by offering an even stronger start than in 2023. In 43 games with the Cubs this season, the 33-year-old is hitting an impressive .257/.375/.407 in 168 trips to the plate. He has seen his walk rate reach 14.9% which is good for seventh among all professional pitchers in MLB this year, while his strikeout rate has held at 21.4%. Most interestingly, Tauchman has even been able to show more power than he did in his first season with Chicago; he already has four homers and nine doubles after managing eight homers and 18 doubles throughout the 2023 campaign.

All of that adds up to an impressive 130 wRC+ that leaves Tauchman tied with Bellinger for 40th among all MLB regulars and first among all Cubs hitters this season. It’s been a truly amazing season for Tauchman in Chicago, and if he can continue to produce at this level the Cubs will have a lot of tough decisions on their hands with top outfield prospects like. Pete Crow-Armstrong again Owen Caissie knocking on the main door. Regardless of the outcome of those decisions, Tauchman has done enough in the past calendar year to assure himself of continued opportunities at the major league level even as he enters his 35th year in a remarkable turnaround for a player many had labeled a one-season wonder a decade ago.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button