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It's time to give Derrek Lee his due

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.

Gone is the eternal Sam Fuld who has managed to capture Cubs fan's hearts with his gritty grindy play in two seperate seasons. It should have been Micah Hoffpauir who got sent down, given that he struggles mightly in the field and he has been in a terrific slump of late. Which brings me to one Derrek Lee.

You see, Cub fans have been hating on Lee for two plus seasons now. His propensity to ground into that rally killing double-play last year and his early struggles this year have added much fuel to the bench Lee fire that has been raging on the north side. Micah Hoffpauir started the season hot where Lee did not, and everyone jumped on the bandwagon, hoping that a career minor leaguer could find talent where a rare few could ever before. Radio shows were full to the brim of Micah supporters, all the while DLEE continued to man first, much to the ire of most Cub fans.

And then he hit a home run. And then another, and another, and another. Pretty soon Lee was white hot while Micah slipped into being what he was all along, a power hitter with zero plate discipline. The criticism on Lee was sharp and pointed, and in all fariness, fair. It also shows that players more often than not will return to their statistical means and prolonged slumps such as Lee's do not, in fact, last forever.

It's time to give Lee his due. The man is who he is, slow starter, about 25-30 HR's, about 80-95 RBI's, a few stolen bases and Gold Glove caliber defense. He saves runs and scores runs. He'll hit about .280-.290, not much more, but never really much less. There is a certain consistency about him that not many Cub fans appreciate, teased by 46 HR's in 2005. He is who he is, no more and certainly no less.

A wrist injury and the prolonged after effects hurt him and his swing, and where it finally looks like he's back to being who he was before the injury, Cubs fans want to see the '05 production again. Indeed, having his best season as a professional was probably the worst thing to ever happen to Lee, as it raised expectations to an unreasonable level.

Lee has carried this team, he has been the spark, the grindy heads up player who takes the extra base, makes few baserunning mistakes and plays a stellar defense. While Cub nation rushes to proclaim its heroes as the grindy old minor leaguers who try hard because of lack of real talent, I'm going to proclaim Derrek Lee the hero of the first half.

Don't be fooled Cub fans, for this season at least, the Cubs would be nowhere without the prowess and high baseball IQ of Derrek Lee.

2 comments:

  1. As much as I've shat upon 6-4-Lee the past couple years, this is the 2005 DLEE again. It's nice to have him abck and i hope he stays until late October.

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  2. It was fair in the past. His GB rates went through the roof last year. This year he's driving the ball. I wouldn't expect 40+ HR's ever again, but I'll take the doubles.

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