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Cubs unsung heroes: Jake Fox, June 26, 2009

Like many of the players in this series, Fox got really hot for a short time.

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Jake Fox was the Cubs’ third-round pick in the 2003 draft out of the University of Michigan. He was selected as a catcher, but it became pretty clear within a couple years in the Cubs’ system that he wasn’t going to be real good at that, so he moved around to other positions, primarily first base and the outfield.

He got a brief seven game cuppa coffee with the Cubs in 2007, had a good year at Triple-A Iowa in 2008 and then started absolutely mashing the ball at Iowa in 2009.

He was hitting .424/.503/.881 (64-for-151) with 17 (!) home runs in 41 games when he was recalled, even though he really had no position for the big-league Cubs. Even our MLB The Show Cubs simulation doesn’t have guys doing that well, if you’re thinking “those are video game numbers.”

Fox had been getting sporadic play, mostly as a pinch-hitter and occasionally in left field and at third base — the latter a surprise, as he had played exactly eight games at third base in his six years in the Cubs system.

Finally, on June 21, the Cubs had run out of third-base options and started him there (and in left field) for a few weeks. From June 21 through July 19 he played in 19 games, starting 17 of them, and hit .338/.373/.647 (23-for-68) with six doubles and five home runs.

You might recall this, I surely do: There were people who said the Cubs should trade Aramis Ramirez and install Fox as the everyday third baseman. Though trading A-Ram might have brought a decent return, starting Fox at third base every day would have been a horrid idea. Though he hit reasonably well in 82 games with the Cubs in 2009 (.259/.311/.468, 11 home runs), he was a terrible defender and thus wound up with negative bWAR.

At the beginning of that 19-game run he started five straight games in which he went 10-for-20 with three doubles and two home runs. One of the home runs was a two-run shot against the White Sox [VIDEO], June 26, 2009 on the South Side.

After July 19, Fox’s magic pixie dust wore off, or the league adjusted to him, or both — he hit just .215/.276/.385 (28-for-130) the rest of 2009. He was traded to the Athletics after the 2009 season in a deal that brought reliever Jeff Gray and a pair of minor leaguers to the Cubs. Gray is best-known as the only Cub to wear No. 34 in between Kerry Wood and Jon Lester; the minor leaguers the Cubs got never played in the big leagues.

If the N.L. had the DH in Fox’s time, he might have become a decent everyday player at that position. But they didn’t. Fox didn’t hit much in Oakland or Baltimore, his next big-league stop, and last played in the majors in 2011. But he was still hanging around the minor leagues in the Blue Jays and Phillies organizations as late as 2016.