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2016 Cubs Spring Training Countdown: Day 3

People love to complain about David Ross. But he is valuable to this team.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Many of you complained when David Ross was signed to back up Miguel Montero behind the plate in 2015.

It was clear that he was being signed primarily to be Jon Lester's personal catcher. Ross wound up starting 46 games in all, partly because Montero missed some time in July with a thumb injury, and the Cubs went 30-16 in those games. That's a .652 winning percentage, higher than the team's overall percentage.

Now, I'm certainly not claiming here that Ross' presence in those games was what made the Cubs win, certainly not. It's clear that one of the reasons Lester, who had a very good year overall, had a W/L record of just 11-12, was that on the days he pitched, two spots in the batting order (his and Ross') were black holes. Lester ranked 106th of 124 qualified starters in baseball last year in run support per start (3.7 runs), even while the Cubs overall ranked 11th of the 30 teams.

Nevertheless, Ross did provide value to the ballclub. Remember this play? (And the look on Ross' face after?)

Ross' strong pickoff throw literally won that game for the Cubs. He made other good defensive plays. Overall he posted 0.9 defensive bWAR, which isn't a lot, but at least provided positive value.

And how about this?

Not only did he pitch a scoreless frame (his second such appearance of the season), he homered in the bottom of the inning -- his only home run of the year, hit as a "pitcher." It provided some laughs in the last game of the Cubs' three-game sweep at the hands of the Phillies, one of the low points of 2015.

2016 will undoubtedly be Ross' last year as a player. He's likely going to catch Lester again, most if not all of the time. He won't hit much. He'll provide defense and leadership, and the latter is important, in my view. I hope the Cubs keep him in the organization as a coach when he's done playing. He seems like the kind of man who will make an excellent manager someday.