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The Real Junior Lake: Flop or Stud?

July 24th, 2014 at 1:50 PM
By Tim Duxbury

Chicago Cubs outfielder Junior Lake burst on to the scene last summer as a rookie and brought energy to a dead team. At one point, Lake was drawing Yasiel Puig-type attention with his play and some fans wanted to rename Lake Michigan, Lake Junior (get it!). Heading in to 2014 it was believed that Lake had earned himself a permanent place in the Cubs’ outfield but now some fans are wondering why he is still in the major leagues. Lake had a solid month of May, hitting .273 with four home runs but has hit no higher than .219 in any other month and is currently hitting .215 on the year. So with the trade deadline fast approaching and roster moves happening daily, its time to ask, “What is Junior Lake’s future?”

_ DSCN0002 Junior Lake from Flickr via Wylio? 2013 John, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

There is the consensus theory that Lake is just a bust and should be traded or demoted but that seems too easy.  Diving into Lake’s 2014 stats reveals that it’s possible that he is just being misused. Outside of his stats from the month of May, Lake’s numbers have been pretty awful across the board:

Breakdown:

vs LHP

vs RHP

Home

Away

Day

NIGHT

Batting ave

.222

.212

.226

.207

.240

.193

(per ESPN.com)

Everywhere you look, Lake has just been flat out bad. Except for when you look at his splits by position. Lake has seen at bats this year as a pinch hitter, centerfielder and leftfielder, and while his pinch hitting and centerfield numbers follow the trend of utter mediocrity (.100 in 20 ab & .077 in 91 ab), Lake has actually been a good hitter when he plays leftfield. In 154 at bats as a leftfielder Lake is hitting an impressive .312 with eight of his nine home runs and 22 of his 25 RBI. 

It’s not uncommon for guys who play multiple positions to hit better at one position or another but the difference is usually less than 100 points. Lake, on the other hand, is hitting over 225 points better in leftfield than he is in centerfield! The numbers beg the question; Is Junior Lake a flop or is he just being misused?

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