Could Elite Baserunner Terrance Gore Steal Postseason Roster Spot?
Regardless of your political leanings or your cinematic preferences, I think every Cubs fan can agree that there’s always room for a little Gore. Could the Cubs be thinking the same thing come October?
Everyone in the ballpark knows what Terrance Gore is going to do when he’s in the game, yet the defense is powerless to stop him. Though he’s only logged two plate appearances with the Cubs, he’s stolen four bases and has scored two runs. That’s right in line with his career marks with the Royals, which featured 21 steals and 14 runs scored despite a mere 14 plate appearances.
At only 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, Gore is anything but imposing out on the field. At least until he explodes toward the next base as though propelled by a linear induction motor, reaching top speed instantaneously and then dropping into a brief slide that ends with him adhering to the bag like Spider-Man. It’s really uncanny.
It’s also the kind of superlative skill that could earn Gore a spot on the Cubs’ playoff roster, should things shake out just so.
“You wouldn’t start him,” Joe Maddon said when asked about the possibility of Gore playing in October. “He’s definitely an interesting cat to have on the team. If you ever went to a 26-man roster, he might be the perfect fit during the regular season, having somebody like him.”
The possibility is a long shot due to Gore’s one-dimensional skillset, but that dimension is exactly the kind of thing that could make the difference in a tight game. Even on a team that goes first-to-third better than any in MLB, he’s uniquely suited to take extra bases and put additional pressure on opposing defenses.
There’s also something to be said for Gore understanding his role as a baserunning mercenary. Though he did pick up his first career hit Saturday — against Max Scherzer, no less — the 27-year-old speedster is the position-player equivalent of a closer. If he’s in the game, he knows that it’s to wreak havoc on the bases and increase the Cubs’ margin for error when it comes to scoring late runs.
And we’re not just talking about some raw athlete who’s simply possessed of top-end speed. As mentioned above, Gore is a very skilled base-stealer who has honed his craft over the course of several professional seasons.
“Not only is he fast, but he has great technique,” Maddon explained. “If he’s not the fastest, he’s one of two.”
Trading for someone and/or bringing them up from the minors to provide an extra wrinkle isn’t new. The Cubs have done it before with Quintin Berry and Leonys Martin. But those players were really only factors in September; Berry missed out on the 2015 postseason roster and Martin got only three at-bats in last year’s playoffs. Gore could be something of a mix of those two.
“He’s had the experience,” Maddon said. “And you see out there. Even when he had a bad jump the other day, he still beat the throw. And he’s got this knack to slide late and hold onto the bag, it just sticks.”
All that said, I’m not sure there’s a scenario in which this happens. We noted above how good the Cubs are as a team when it comes to making things happen with their legs. Gore is a perfect luxury to have when expanded rosters allow for it, but distilling that down to 25 men probably renders him superfluous.
I guess that just means we’ll have to enjoy watching him flit around the bases like a waterbug over the next two weeks or so, because, man, that is fun.