The 2014 season has been a difficult one for Chicago Cubs’ third baseman Mike Olt. Olt was optioned to AAA Iowa back on July 23rd after hitting just .139 and averaging more than one strike out per game. Cubs’ fans were all up in arms about Olt’s mediocre play and he has been almost forgotten since his demotion. But is Mike Olt poised for a return to Wrigley Field?
(stats per baseball-reference.com)
Who knows what has gotten into Olt, but his performance of late has been stellar. Not only has he cut down his strike outs (from 45% with the Cubs down to 30% with the I-Cubs) but he has also strayed away from his all-or-nothing approach at the plate. In just 10 games at AAA, Mike Olt has already collected 13 hits; he had just 26 hits in 72 games in the major leagues.
Has Olt’s performance (assuming it continues) earned him another shot with the Cubs’ this season? It won’t be right away, as the Cubs have elected to call up Chris Valaika to fill Emilio Bonifacio’s roster spot, but there is a very real chance that Olt will rejoin the Cubs roster come September.
In terms of actual playing time there are a number of factors to consider. In September the Cubs’ likely options at third base will be just Valbuena and Valaika and given each of their backgrounds, a rejuvenated Olt may be the Cubs’ best option. Luis Valbuena got off to a hot start in 2014 but has cooled off significantly and is coming off a brutal month of July in which he hit just .195, per ESPN.com. Chris Valaika, on the other hand, has put together a solid campaign at AAA, hitting .278 with 10 home runs, but he is a career .244 hitter at the big league level. Regardless of who ends up playing third base in September, chances are they will be little more than a stopgap until the mid-2015 arrival of Kris Bryant.
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