Team Italy infielder Daniel Descalsco signed a two-year contract with the Chicago Cubs that includes a team option for the 2021 season on December 18, 2018. The multi-year deal will help the 32-year-old Italian American MLB veteran to grow and develop into a leader in the Cubs clubhouse. In the 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC) at Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Daniel Descalso was also an early catalyst for the Team Italy offense as he drove in each of the Italians' first three runs against Venezuela on March 11, 2017. Two days later in the WBC tiebreaker rematch game against Venezuela, Daniel Descalso was once again responsible for Team Italy's go-ahead run with his RBI single in the first inning. Although the Azzurri were cut short of advancing in the 2017 WBC, Daniel Descalso made Italians proud for his leadership role on the field and in the clubhouse. He returned to Arizona Diamondbacks Spring Training with vigor and proved to be a solid contributor to the D-backs for two years before signing with the Chicago Cubs recently.
Having been on the same 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals team that Team Italy coach Nick Punto played on under the leadership of National Baseball Hall of Famer Tony La Russa, Daniel Descalso is a proven winner and a consistent run producer. He can be effective as a pinch-hitter under pressure and come through in the clutch. With nine years of MLB experience under his belt, Daniel Descalso comes off his best year with the Arizona Diamondbacks in which he set new career season highs in home runs (13), RBI (57), OPS (.789), OPS+ (106), on-base percentage (.353), slugging percentage (.436), and runs scored (54). Daniel Descalsco also was a hot topic in Sabremetric circles in 2018. Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) is considered to be a favorite statistic among Sabremetricians to find players’ values, and wRC+ is largely believed to be the single best overall offensive metric we have today. It takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for important external factors -- like ballpark, league, or era. It's adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average and 150 would be 50 percent above league average. Daniel Descalso, one of the most underrated players in MLB, registered on the radars of many when he catapulted from below the wRC+ 100 league average in 2017 to about 20 percent above league average in 2018 to rank among the game's elite.
The left-handed hitting Daniel Descalso is versatile defensively as he can play all four infield positions and left field. Considering the amount of times during the season Cubs manager Joe Maddon changes up his lineup card and shuffles players around the diamond during games, Daniel Descalso is a perfect fit in Chicago. After trading fellow Italian American second baseman Tommy La Stella to the Los Angeles Angels, the Cubs skipper needed another left-handed bat to come off the bench or to make a spot start. With Javier Baez moving over to shortstop to take over duties for the suspended Addison Russell, Daniel Descalso will be see regular action at second base. Because of his superior defense and power at the plate, Daniel Descalso is a valuable asset to the Chicago Cubs.
Daniel Descalso has made some pretty significant changes to his swing and approach. His launch angle increased to 19.1 degrees from 12.8 in 2017. Daniel Descalso was one of the top 75 hitters in MLB last season as a result of hitting the ball in the air more. It is a general rule that fewer ground balls produce more power at the plate. Daniel Descalso's career fly-ball rate climbed to 43.1 percent from 29.7 percent after last year's adjustments. In addition, it resulted in a a spike in homer-to-fly-ball rate to 11.4 percent in comparison to his 6.9 percent in 2017. His quality of contact was also much improved in 2018 in contrast to recent years. His average exit velocity jumped to 89 mph from 87 mph the prior season, and his Barrel rate doubled to 10.2 percent from 5.1 in 2017. Among 285 hitters with at least 800 plate appears from 2015 to 2017, Daniel Descalso ranked number 191 in hard hit rate; however, in 2018 he catapulted up to number 40 among the 278 hitters with at least 300 plate appearances. Combined with his impressive 15.1 percent walk rate in 2018, Daniel Descalso is a possible Chicago Cubs leadoff-hitter candidate. Let's wish both Daniel Descalso and manager Joe Madden the best of luck in 2019. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen