It’s the second day of Cubsmas and while there were a lot of good things that came in pairs in 2018, nothing was quite as good as the pair of walkoff grand slams both with two outs and two strikes, that the Cubs received from two unlikely sources.
In 2018 Jason Heyward showed a lot of improvement. Specifically his hard hit rate was up substantially from his first two seasons with the Cubs. He had a hard hit rate of 29.7 percent in 2018, which was a substantial improvement over the 25.5 percent he posted in 2017 and even an improvement over his outstanding 2015 campaign with the Cardinals when he had a hard hit rate of 29.1 percent.
While there is still room for him to improve his slash line in 2019, the .270/.335/.395 he put up in 2018 also included 8 home runs, including this walkoff gem against the Phillies. On June 6th the Cubs were playing the Phillies. They were down 5-3 in the ninth inning. The bases were loaded and at a 2-2 count Heyward was down to his final strike. He took a high 97 mph fastball and hit a no doubter into the right field bleachers for the win [VIDEO].
The Cubs were not satisfied with just one walkoff grand slam, however, and on August 12 against the Nationals rookie David Bote found a few ways to re-raise with a grand slam of his own.
While I’m sure most people reading this know this story by now, to recap, David Bote is a 25 year old rookie infielder who joined the Cubs on and off this year on the strength of his outstanding glove, impressive hard hit rate and a knack for the big moment. Josh Timmers had a great write up on The Legend of David Bote that looked at his rise to the big leagues. It’s worth noting that his hard hit rate of 38.6 percent is second overall on the Cubs behind only Kyle Schwarber. He had also already had a huge home run to tie the game against the Diamondbacks two weeks earlier.
I was in section 229 when Bote strode to the plate to pinch hit with the bases loaded on hit batsmen and an error (I know, Jason Heyward’s ground ball was officially scored as a hit. I still disagree). I knew he had a knack for the big moment, but I also knew that that night on Sunday night baseball, the Cubs bats had been lifeless. Max Scherzer had only given up a single hit, the Cubs were down 3-0 and they were down to their final strike for the second time in five minutes.
And then this happened [VIDEO]:
I think the only thing that can be more special than a walkoff grand slam with two outs and two strikes is a pinch hit walkoff grand slam with two outs and two strikes hit by a rookie. It was a magical moment, and the loudest I’ve ever heard Wrigley Field.
On the second day of Cubsmas my true love gave to me: two walkoff grand slams and a Javy MVP candidate.