The Chicago Cubs have one of the worst outfields in baseball. Collectively, they’ve produced just 2.4 WAR, third-worst in the big leagues. Most of that value comes from Marlon Byrd, and they just traded Kosuke Fukudome, who was having a decent season, to Cleveland, further thinning their outfielders.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. They could call up Bryan LaHair.
Mariners fans may remember LaHair as a…well, forgettable first baseman for Seattle late in 2008. A big, strapping lefty swinger, he hadn’t really figured out how to tap into his power at that point, and was merely a nice minor league doubles hitter. Predictably, his 34-game big league trial ended with a .250/.315/.346 slash line.
But after that season, something changed. LaHair had hit just 40 homers from 2006-08 in the minors, but he hit 26 in 2009 and another 25 last season after moving from the M’s organization to the Cubs’. He also moved to the outfield part-time in 2009, and has proven himself capable of playing left and right field.
This year, LaHair’s just gotten ridiculous. He’s hitting .333/.409/.655 with Triple-A Iowa, and with the recent promotion of minors HR leader Paul Goldschmidt, he may soon take over the lead in the minor league home run race.
Yes, he’s 28 years old, but LaHair is a solid all-around hitter who clearly has some monster power. His 2008 struggles aren’t a fair representation of his big league ability, since his stats in the minors have taken a big jump since, and while he’s not going to be a defensive asset in the outfield corners, his bat could make up for it, at least in a platoon role.
The Cubs have nothing to lose by seeing what LaHair can do in another 30-40 game stint to end this season. He definitely deserves the shot to prove he is, once and for all, more than a minor league slugger. And seriously, who couldn’t use a guy with a 1.128 OPS against Triple-A righties? He’s certainly more valuable than Blake DeWitt or Tyler Colvin.
Make it happen, Jim Hendry.