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:
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:
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.