I’m sitting in my dining room on Friday morning recovering from my recent kidney stone surgery. I could be doing all kinds of things with my time, but thanks to a tweet from the always worthwhile WinterBall Data account I am perusing Junior Lake’s statistics. I really want to delve into his career, but I’m not going to do that simply because there’s a lot left for him to accomplish in his career. In the meantime my ruminations on all things Lake have centered on his 2021-2022 campaign and just how damn good he is at the game of baseball.
During the summer months, Lake plied his trade for Liga Mexicana de Béisbol’s Toros de Tijuana. He manned center field for the eventual Serie del Rey champions. He did very Junior Lake things all year long and that means he combined good stats with a style of play that is refreshing to watch. Overall on the season, he batted .293/.390/.485 with 10 home runs in 284 plate appearances. Lake was a positive force for the Toros all year long and a major reason they overcame a three games to none deficit in Serie del Rey to win the LMB crown.
Now that it’s the wintertime Lake is back in the outfield, this time in left field, for Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana’s Estrellas Orientales. In 114 plate appearances, he’s slashing .269/.351/.380 with two home runs and 10 stolen bases to zero times caught stealing. Lake and his 114 OPS+ are helping push an Estrellas team that has been in first place for most of the still early season. LIDOM is a much different offensive environment than LMB and yet, Lake still excels all the same. He does this through a combination of power, speed, and athleticism that is the hallmark of the very best athletes.
Add it all together and for 2021-2022 Lake is slashing .283/.377/.454 with a 77.8 SB%, 12 home runs, and 51 walks to only 84 strikeouts in 396 plate appearances. Those are great numbers, but they are, when all is said and done, numbers that only scratch the surface of what Lake provides on a daily basis. For a better idea of what Lake does provide, I present to you exhibit A,
There’s no reason for that play to have happened. It doesn’t make sense from any number of perspectives. In fact, it really only makes sense if you are willing to buy into the idea that Junior Lake is an amazing athlete with great instincts doing whatever it takes to win a baseball game for his team. There are some analytical diehards rolling their eyes at this last paragraph. Or, maybe there aren’t, because honestly, I can’t look at that highlight and not come away smiling. It’s tough for me to imagine any baseball fan watching that play, and by extension watching the way Junior Lake plays baseball, and not having oodles and oodles of fun.
The point of this whole exercise can be summed up as such: Junior Lake is both a great baseball player and as entertaining as they come. He’s been exiled from Major League Baseball for some time now, though not from the major leagues as MLB isn’t the only major league around. If you’re an MLB only fan I can promise you that you’ve been missing a lot by not getting to see what Lake does on a baseball diamond on a daily basis. Watch yourself some LIDOM right now, catch him in Serie del Caribe in a month or so, and look out for him in LMB next summer. Do whatever you can to watch one of the most entertaining players in baseball today do his thing and create nothing but excitement on the baseball field.
Lead photo courtesy of Víctor Pérez – ESPN