Imagine for a moment you’re Jake Cave.
You’re drafted by the Yankees but before you even try on a major league uniform you’re already traded to the Twins. You perform well for a few years but then your numbers start to dip. You’re sent to Triple-A for most of the ‘21-’22 season. You get bounced to the Orioles, and finally are claimed off waivers by the Phillies in December ‘22.
In Spring Training you hustle and show that even at 30 years old you can still contribute. Your hard work pays off and you wind up with a spot on the roster. In the minors you kill it. In the majors you play 65 games and over the course of 203 plate appearances you slash .212/.272/.348 with an OPS of .620 and an OPS+ of 69 (which is not nice).
You’re not Bryce Harper.
You’re not even Johan Rojas.
You are, in fact, not a very good major league player.
Still, you ride the bench for a season and savor every moment you actually get to run onto the field and play ball at the Bank.
Then, in the most unlikely turn of events, you find yourself at the plate during Game 7 of the NLCS. Your team is down by two runs. It’s the bottom of the ninth with two outs.
What’s going through your mind? You hope to be the hero who puts the team back in the game and allows the Phillies to walk off to the World Series.
In reality, you’re Andrew Jacob Cave. And life is unfair.
Spoilers in case you’re still catching up on the NLCS: no one in Philly is holding up a sign reading “I heart Jake Cave” as fire trucks file by on Broad Street during the World Series parade.
With all of that said, he’s Jake Cave. He has a small chance of returning in a Phillies uniform next season.
2023 stats: 65 G, 203 PA, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 3 SB, 1 1⁄2 3B, .212/.272/.620, -0.1 fWAR
Jake Cave has ended the Phillies playoff run pic.twitter.com/uL5UJx48jV— Twins Central (@TwinsCentral1) October 25, 2023
I legitimately tried to find a positive tweet from the man himself, but for some reason I can’t fathom he privated his account. It’s almost like he feared people on the internet would lash out at him after the NLCS loss.
In Lehigh Valley, Cave was a monster at the plate. He slashed .346/.429/.684 with an OPS of 1.113. He hit the long ball like it was all he knew how to do.
And remember the double he tried to extend into a triple and that hilarious slide into third base as he was tagged out during Game 2 of the NLCS? He may have even been safe, but the Phillies were up 10-0 and were rolling over the Diamondbacks like a runaway dump truck so it was okay to laugh.
He also seems like a legitimately good guy, and that counts for something, right?
No one exemplifies how the minors are not the majors like 2023 Jake Cave. At best he was mediocre in the outfield. At the plate he was as reliable as mayonnaise left in a hot car on a summer afternoon. He didn’t need to be Brendan Donovan, but the team needed to count on him to step up in those big situations. He didn’t.
It’s likely the Phillies will upgrade their bench strength during the off season. Cave will find work with another ball club. As far as major league contracts go, 2023 was probably his high water mark.
Take care, Jake Cave. Your name incited a plethora of arguments in neighborhood bars across the Delaware Valley, and I won’t remember you in two years.