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2015 Spring-Training Countdown, Day 25: Derrek Lee

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Let's talk about one of the more popular Cubs in recent years.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Derrek Lee spent seven seasons with the Chicago Cubs, during which he played on two division-title teams and had two seasons that rank among the best in modern Cubs history.

In 2005, D-Lee led the National League in hits, doubles, batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+ and total bases. He fell one hit short of 200 hits, one extra-base hit short of 100 of those and seven total bases shy of 400.

In case you think I'm just picking random milestones, that trifecta is exceedingly rare. It's been done just nine times in major-league history by some pretty good hitters, and just once since 1948:

Rk Player Year H XBH TB Tm G PA AB R 2B 3B HR RBI BA OBP SLG
1 Todd Helton 2000 216 103 405 COL 160 697 580 138 59 2 42 147 .372 .463 .698
2 Stan Musial 1948 230 103 429 STL 155 698 611 135 46 18 39 131 .376 .450 .702
3 Jimmie Foxx 1932 213 100 438 PHA 154 702 585 151 33 9 58 169 .364 .469 .749
4 Chuck Klein 1932 226 103 420 PHI 154 711 650 152 50 15 38 137 .348 .404 .646
5 Lou Gehrig 1930 220 100 419 NYY 154 703 581 143 42 17 41 173 .379 .473 .721
6 Chuck Klein 1930 250 107 445 PHI 156 721 648 158 59 8 40 170 .386 .436 .687
7 Lou Gehrig 1927 218 117 447 NYY 155 717 584 149 52 18 47 173 .373 .474 .765
8 Rogers Hornsby 1922 250 102 450 STL 154 704 623 141 46 14 42 152 .401 .459 .722
9 Babe Ruth 1921 204 119 457 NYY 152 693 540 177 44 16 59 168 .378 .512 .846
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/22/2015.

I note this only to show you how that 2005 season from D-Lee has been glossed over by many baseball historians. He finished third in MVP voting.

He nearly did as well in 2009, when he hit .306/.393/.579 with 35 homers and a career-high 111 RBI. For that, he finished ninth in the MVP balloting. In neither year did the Cubs win the division title; the two division-crown years for Lee were somewhat down years as he was still recovering from the gruesome wrist injury he suffered early in 2006 when he collided with the Dodgers' Rafael Furcal.

Lee was known as a "quiet leader" who led by example rather than rah-rah. This caused some to think he wasn't really a leader at all. Personally, I enjoyed watching him play; not only was he a fine hitter, but also a plus defensive first baseman. The Cubs traded him away for three minor leaguers who never even had a cuppa coffee in the big leagues, and then D-Lee just kind of faded away after having a decent year in 2011 split between the Orioles and Pirates. He was just 36 going into 2012 and reportedly had offers, but not to be a starter, and he chose to retire instead of be a part-time player.

The current wearer of No. 25 is pitching coach Chris Bosio, although you will almost never see him on the field wearing that jersey. Instead, he generally comes out to talk to pitchers wearing this blue-and-red pullover:

chris bosio (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

Photo: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Bosio has done an excellent job with Cubs pitchers and I'm glad Joe Maddon chose to retain him as pitching coach. I look forward to more good Bosio work this year, and perhaps a ball or three thrown to me at the end of batting practice once the bleachers re-open.