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Throwback Thursday: Happy Birthday to Former Cubs INF Mike Fontenot

Happy birthday to former Cubs second baseman Mike Fontenot, who turns 42 years old today.

Mike Fontenot Chicago Cubs
Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Former Chicago Cubs infielder Mike Fontenot turns 42 years old today. Seeing as I posted a Twitter poll question the other day featuring Fontenot, it’s only fitting that his birthday falls a couple of days later. Honestly, I didn’t realize this when creating the poll. In case you missed it, here’s what I’m referring to.

Of the three players mentioned, Darwin Barney had the best glove. He is the only one among the group to win a Gold Glove, which he accomplished in 2012. That season, Barney tied Placido Polanco with a 141-game errorless streak, an MLB record for a second baseman.

Nick Madrigal could wind up being a better player with better numbers at the plate, but he’s not tracking well right now. You might say Madrigal is a former fourth overall draft pick. How is this a comparison? Coming out of LSU, Fontenot was no slouch of a prospect. The Baltimore Orioles selected him in the first round of the 2001 MLB Draft at pick No. 19.

Remember a guy by the name of Sammy Sosa? No big deal if you haven’t. He’s only one of the greatest Cubs players of all time. Fun fact. Fontenot was involved in the trade that sent Sosa to the Orioles. In return, the Cubs received Jerry Hairston Jr., Dave Crouthers, and Mike Fontenot. It sounds weird, but I think the Cubs won the trade.

Fontenot was an intriguing player during his time in the league. Generously listed at 5-foot-9, 165 lbs during his playing career, Fontenot often looked out of place on the baseball diamond. Madrigal weighs about 10 pounds more but is listed an inch shorter at 5-foot-8.

Fontenot made his small stature work and put together a few solid years, albeit with below-average power production. Similarly, Madrigal has minimal raw power and hasn’t hit a homer this season. However, he’s hit better than this in the past, with an OPS+ over 100 during his time with the White Sox. The problem is he’s only played in 113 career games and is batting .214 at the moment. Madrigal has shown the ability to hit for high contact, but he might need to go back to the minors to figure some things out if the struggles continue. 

As for Fontenot, he spent parts of five seasons with the Cubs’ big league team before getting traded to the San Francisco Giants halfway through the 2010 season. Fontenot’s Giants went on to win the World Series, but the infielder’s career fizzled out after getting a World Series ring. After the Phillies released him in August of 2012, he bounced around between the Tampa Bay Rays and Washington Nationals minor league systems before calling it quits.

Between Barney, Madrigal, and Fontenot, the latter is the only player to record a .395 OBP and 134 wRC+ in a season. Madrigal still has time and should receive some slack given his age. However, my vote for in the aforementioned poll would go to Fontenot at the moment. In light of his birthday today, here are some video highlights of Mike Fontenot I found on Twitter.

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