Sometimes all you need is a chance to prove yourself and Bryan LaHair is doing just that.
After languishing in the minors for 9 seasons, the Cubs are the first team to finally give LaHair a chance to show what he can do on the major league stage. So far, the results have been spectacular.
Through 20 games, LaHair has a slash line of .390/.471/.780 for an obscene OPS of 1.251 and an OPS+ of 241. Despite missing the first 3 games of the season due to injury, he still leads the team in homers (5) and doubles (8), and is tied for the team lead for RBIs (14) with Starlin Castro and walks (10) with David DeJesus.
The only blemish on his ridiculous start is that he has also struck out 25 times in just 59 at bats, a sign that his average will likely drop. However, his power is legit (he hit 38 homers in AAA last season) and he certainly looks like a keeper for the Cubs.
LaHair's performance reminds me of another late-bloomer who broke onto the scene with a big season in his age 29 year--Ryan Ludwick.
Ludwick had a bit more experience than LaHair, playing in 271 major league games before he turned 29. But Ludwick never gave any indication of being capable of putting up the kind of numbers he did when he broke out in 2008 to hit .299/.375/.591 with 37 homers.
Unfortunately for Ludwick, he was never able to reproduce those kind of numbers again and has since bounced around the majors looking for a home.
Could LaHair's career follow a similar path? Cubs fans hope not, but baseball history is littered with players who have one magical season that they are never able to duplicate.
If this is to be LaHair's magical season, its too bad its going to be wasted in a rebuilding year. But the Cubs are hoping that LaHair is legit and can learn to play left field for when Anthony Rizzo is ready.