The Cubs finish the final 31 games of the 2012 season with a 10-21 record (9-19 Sept, 1-2 Oct), finishing the season 61-101.
The Cubs began the month of September with a 6-game losing streak which included a four-game sweep at Washington, D.C. In the next ten games, the Cubs went 7-3, sweeping the Pirates at PNC Park, taking two of three at Houston, and splitting a four game series from the Pirates at Wrigley. In the final 15 games of the season, the Cubs managed to go 3-12, getting swept by the Reds at home, losing two of three to the Cardinals at home, getting swept at Colorado, taking one of three at Arizona, and taking one of three from the Astros at home.
The one win at Arizona prevented the Cubs from going 0-19 at N.L. West parks in 2012 and going 0-20 since the final game of 2011 at San Diego. The Cubs avoided that accomplishment by winning the very last game they played at a N.L. West park... that's right, they saved the best for last, or should I say "worst" for last? Also, if you were one of the 41 (15% of 266 votes) who voted for "2-7... the Astros are hot!" in the poll: "How will the Cubs do in their remaining nine games?" Well then, by all means, you win.
September 1st thru October 3rd notes:
Catcher Steve Clevenger was given a one-game suspension due to his "aggressive actions and fighting" during a bench-clearing fracas in the bottom of the sixth inning on Thursday, September 6th against the Nationals.
It all started when Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk began quirking with Nationals third-base coach Bo Porter. The argument had coincidentally ensued after the events of both Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa stealing second base and Jayson Werth swinging away on a 3-0 pitch during the bottom of the fifth inning with the Nationals in a commanding 7-2 lead. Porter approached the Cubs dugout, both him and Quirk yelled at each other, the benches cleared, even the bullpens. While all the players stood on the field thinking to themselves: "I ran out onto the field for THIS?!?!" Jamie Quirk got ejected, and Bo Porter didn't get ejected. Of course, it didn't end there.
In the bottom of the sixth, Lendy Castillo threw the first pitch inside to Bryce Harper and within moments, both benches and bullpens cleared again. It looked like nothing much was going to happen again, but Steve Clevenger shoved a Nationals player, initiating a push-and-shove fracas for about a half minute. Clevenger was ejected. When asked about the pitch, both Clevenger and Svuem denied Castillo intentionally threw at Harper... which is why Clevenger made no effort what-so-ever to catch the inside pitch, and jumped out to block Harper before he could finish recovering from dodging the ball.
- Starlin Castro became the 28th player in MLB history to reach his 500th hit before the age of 23 in a 12-2 win at Pittsburgh. Also, Brett Jackson showed us his best Sam Fuld impersonation by colliding into the center-field fence at PNC Park and bruising his knee in the process. Oh, yeah, he also caught the ball in the process.
- Jeff Samardzija was shut down for the remainder of the season after his first complete game, resulting in a 4-3 win in Pittsburgh. Samardzija reached his innings limit for the season and was shut down as a precautionary measure in his first season as a starter. The Shark finished 9-13 with 174 and 2/3 innings, which was more than twice as many from 2011 when he pitched 88 in relief.
- On September 8th, Theo/Jed bring in more of "their" guys by dismissing six members of the Cubs' Minor League coaching staff which includes 18 year Triple-A Iowa manager Dave Bialas.
- Darwin Barney passes Sandberg by extending his errorless streak to a National League single-season record 125 straight games on September 9th. A streak that ended on September 28th at Arizona when he tried to make an off-balance throw to get Justin Upton out at first. Fittingly, the error was committed just three outs shy of surpassing Placido Polanco's single-season record of 141. I'd say Darwin Barney has earned his gold glove. Will he win the award? Let's ask Brandon Phillips.
- Former Cub Adam Greenberg finally got his official at-bat since being hit in the head on the first pitch of his only plate appearance on July 9, 2005 at the Florida Marlins. After a successful online petition drive by Cubs fan Matt Liston, he was signed by the Miami Marlins to a one-day contract. In his only at-bat on October 2 against Mets knuckleballer and Cy Young Award contender R.A. Dickey, he struck out on three pitches. Aside from the strike-out, congratulations on your comeback Adam Greenberg.
Here's the top 2 position player performers of September/October:
1. Alfonso Soriano. Soriano became the fifth Cubs player, age 36 or older, to reach the "30-100" club of 30 home runs and 100 RBIs on September 19th. He's the first to do so since Moises Alou in 2004 when he hit 39 home runs and 106 RBIs at age 37. But that's not fair, because Alou played on a competitive Cubs team that year. So to make it fair, Soriano is the first to accomplish that feat on a non-competitive Cubs team since Fred McGriff in 2002 when he hit 30 home runs and 103 RBIs at age 38. Soriano finished with 32 HRs and 108 RBIs. Soriano led the Cubs with a .540 SLG, 1.1 WAR (tied with Castro), .876 OPS, 0.58 WPA, 8 home runs, and 26 RBIs. Soriano's team-leading 34 strikeouts held him to fourth on the list with a .265 AVG and fifth with a .336 OBP.
2. Starlin Castro. Starlin Castro is the first Cub to play all 162 games at shortstop, effectively becoming the "Iron Man" of the Cubs. In the final 31 of his 162 games, Castro led the Cubs with a .311 AVG, .368 OBP, 1.1 WAR (tied with Soriano), 10 doubles, 2 triples, and 38 hits. Castro is second with a .475 SLG and .844 OPS. Castro is fourth with a 0.24 WPA.
The top starting pitcher is:
1. Travis Wood. Among starting pitchers that pitched beyond September 8th, Travis led with a 3.05 ERA, .199 AVG, 1.11 WHIP, 7.62 K/9, 0.14 WPA. Regardless of pitching beyond September 8th or not, Travis led with a 0.9 WAR.
Honorable Mention: Jeff Samardzija. In just two starts, Jeff pitched in 2 and 2/3 less innings than Jason Berken pitched in four starts (Berken with 18 and 2/3, Samardzija with 16 IP). With 16 innings pitched in just two games, Jeff led with a 1.69 ERA, .186 AVG, 0.81 WHIP, 9.56 K/9, 1.13 BB/9 and 0.46 WPA. Because of his early shut-down, he gets the "honorable mention."
The most reliable relief pitcher is:
1. Michael Bowden. Michael led the bullpen with 17.1 IP in 14 appearances. He led with a 0.52 ERA, .133 AVG, and 0.92 WHIP. Even though James Russell led with a 0.46 WPA (Bowden second with 0.40), 0.3 WAR (Bowden second with 0.2) and 2.61 BB/9 (Bowden 4th with 4.15), I felt I should give Bowden the honor... just because. Russell comes close, but I give Bowden the edge.
Here's the top 5 Cubs Win Probability Added plays from September 1st thru October 3rd:
5.) Wed 10/3 vs. HOU (W 5-4): Bottom 9, score tied at 4, 2 outs, bases loaded. Bryan LaHair hits a line drive single to right field off Hector Ambriz. Darwin Barney scores, Tony Campana to 3B, Starlin Castro to 2B. Cubs win 5-4. WPA: 35%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 100%.
4.) Sun 9/16 vs. PIT (W 13-9): Bottom 6, Cubs trail 6-9, nobody out, bases loaded. Anthony Rizzo hits a grand slam home run to right-center field off Jared Hughes. Bryan LaHair, Joe Mather, and Darwin Barney score. Cubs lead 10-9. WPA: 37%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 75%.
3.) Fri 9/21 vs. STL (W 5-4, F/11): Bottom 11, score tied at 4, 2 outs, runner on 3rd. David DeJesus hits a ground ball single to right field off Joe Kelly. Brett Jackson scores. Cubs win 5-4. WPA: 38%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 100%.
2.) Sun 9/2 vs. SFG (L 5-7): Bottom 5, Cubs trail 2-3, 2 outs, runners on 1st and 3rd. Alfonso Soriano hits a home run to left-center field off Matt Cain. David DeJesus and Anthony Rizzo score. Cubs lead 5-3. WPA: 40%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 80%.
1.) Fri 9/21 vs. STL (W 5-4, F/11): Bottom 9, Cubs trail 2-4, 2 outs, runner on 1st. Darwin Barney hits a home run to left-center field off Fernando Salas. David DeJesus scores. Score tied at 4. WPA: 49%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 53%.
Just for fun, here's the top WPA play the Cubs had on the road:
Sun 9/9 at PIT (W 4-2): Top 8, score tied at 2, nobody out, runner on 1st. Alfonso Soriano hits a home run to center field off Jason Grilli. Anthony Rizzo scores. Cubs lead 4-2. WPA: 31%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 88%.
After a brief hiatus, I have access to the poll functionality. Thanks to Al Yellon for his efforts in lobbying for SB Nation to put the functionality back. Below is a list of the 10 Cubs wins from the final 31 games. Which win do you think is the best? Happy Voting : )