According to Carrie Muskat’s mlb.com article today, the Cubs are 28-17 in games that Koyie Hill has started at catcher this season. Soto is coming off the DL and will be behind the plate when the Cubs next play on Friday.
By my count, the Cubs were 17 and 8 in games that Hill started in 2007, mostly in June and July, after he was called up to relieve the slumping and beleaguered Michael Barrett. Hill spent all of last season at Iowa until the rosters expanded, after which he was 1-1 with the Cubs.
Put all the numbers together and you get remarkable win-loss totals of 46-26. Muskat quotes Jim Hendry that “we seem to win a lot of ballgames when he catches.” Lou claims that Hill will continue to start one third of games, or maybe 40 percent.
We’ll see. Usually the better hitter plays, especially for Piniella. If they’re like me, Cub fans have gotten tired of watching Hill try to hit. It seems like he comes up to bat every inning, doesn’t it? Still, it’s hard not to root for Hill, and it’s also intriguing to speculate about the secret of his success. He blocks balls in the dirt and throws out would-be base-stealers at about the same rate as the average major-league catcher, while his hitting is subpar; but he seems to understand pitchers and pitching. He talks to pitchers quite a bit and has a lot of advice. He is definitely coaching material, and I hope he does his coaching/managing with the Cubs.
Meanwhile, Soto returns to his catching duties with shoes to fill. After a long wait, Hill is probably in the majors to stay, at least for another couple of years, whether with the Cubs or somewhere else. He’ll get a chance to make a little money before he switches to the coaching side.
All in all, this is not a bad time to be Koyie Hill’s agent. His client is 46-26 in the majors. When Hill gets to play a few games, mediocre teams suddenly turn solid. At least, that’s what his agent can claim.