Has anyone seen Chicago Cubs outfielder Junior Lake? He appears to be missing. After being a regular in the lineup for much of the season, Lake has mysteriously been relegated to the bench this past week, logging only seven at bats since June 17th (he is 3-7 during that span). Granted, Lake is not a superstar but he is the only Cubs’ outfielder who has managed to be better than the average player. While the Cubs’ current outfield trio has put up embarrassing numbers this season, Lake has actually earned a WAR of 0.1 this season, per baseball-reference.com.
In fact, Junior Lake has made positive strides in a few areas since last year.
Games (at bats)
(stats per baseball-reference.com)
Rumors are that Lake doesn’t have the full confidence of Cubs’ Manager Rick Renteria, but that doesn’t make any sense at all for a number of reasons; 1) Is someone trying to make the case the Ryan Sweeney, Justin Ruggiano, Chris Coghlan and Nate Schierholtz are all better than Junior Lake? I didn’t think so. 2) Lake is the only one in the bunch who hasn’t flopped on his potential yet. The other four are over the hill while Lake just turned 24 and is in his first full year in the big leagues; he has plenty of time still to prove (or disprove) his worth. And 3) Junior Lake is the only one in the group who actually has a future in Chicago. Ruggiano, Schierholtz and Coghlan all have contracts that are set to expire at the end of the year (assuming the Cub’s don’t trade them before then) and Ryan Sweeney (signed through 2016) is playing his way out of a roster spot.
So if no one is outplaying Junior Lake then why is he on the bench? The best guess is that Lake is just taking a mid-season breather or is nursing an injury. Hopefully it’s the former and not the latter, but here’s to seeing Lake back in the lineup real soon!
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