The 2012 season began with the promise of a bright future with Dale Svuem as the new Manager, Theo Epstein as the new President of Baseball Operations, and Jed Hoyer as the new General Manager. This future will be made by means of establishing a "Cubs Way" throughout the entire organization. It all begins with building from the bottom roots and moving upwards. With these standards put in place came the expectation of a "re-building" year to construct the organizations's foundation. A foundation that expects to be competitive every year instead of taking a shot one year, and then taking another shot a few years later.
The 2012 Chicago Cubs finished with a 61-101 record, which is only the third time the Cubs have eclipsed the century mark in losses in one season. Since the World Series era began, the Cubs have had only three worse winning percentage seasons than the .377 2012 campaign. In 1981, the Cubs finished a strike shortened season with a .369 winning percentage (38-65). The 1962 "College of Coaches" and 1966 seasons are tied for the worst in Cubs history with a .364 winning percentage (59-103). However, three years after both the 1966 and 1981 seasons, the Cubs put out playoff-caliber teams. The first of which competed well until the final few weeks of the 1969 season and the second of which came within one win from advancing to the World Series in 1984. Furthermore, after a horrid 65-97 (.401) 2000 season, the Cubs came "oh-so-close" three years later in 2003. After the Cubs hit rock bottom, three years becomes the magic number. All signs are pointing to a competitive playoff-caliber Cubs team in 2015. That is my "silver-lining" for the 2012 season.
Even after suffering through a 101-loss season, there were some positives that we can take from 2012.
-Ron Santo's long awaited induction into Baseball's Hall of Fame finally happened on July 22.
-Kerry Wood's final pitching appearance ever as a Cub concluded with a strike-out and a ceremonious good-bye to the fans as he walked from the mound to the Cubs dugout for the final time to end his career.
-Darwin Barney wins his first Gold Glove award.
-Alfonso Soriano produced a 30+ HR, 100+ RBI season.
-Anthony Rizzo provided us with the promise of a rising super-star slugger with a .285 AVG, 15 HR, 48 RBI in just 87 games played after his first game as a Cub on June 26; the same date that Ron Santo made his debut 42 years before Rizzo's debut.
-Jeff Samardzija looks to be turning into a solid top of the rotation starting pitcher.
Here's the top 3 position player performers of the 2012 season:
1. Alfonso Soriano. After having shown improvement in his defensive game, with an 11.8 fielding value ranking second to the leading Darwin Barney with a fielding value of 13.0, Soriano also stepped it up at the plate. Soriano ranked first with a .499 SLG, .821 OPS, 4.0 WAR, 1.97 WPA, and a 15.1 batting value. At age 36 Soriano appeared in 151 games, batted .262 with 68 runs, a .322 OBP, 32 HR, 108 RBI and six stolen bases.
2. Starlin Castro. Having not missed a single game in 2012, the 2012 All-Star ranked second with a .283 AVG and a 3.3 WAR. He hit 14 HR, drove in 78 runners, stole 25 bases, and scored 78 runs.
3. Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo ranked first with a .285 AVG. He ranked second with a .342 OBP, .463 SLG, .805 OPS, and a 9.0 batting value.
The top 2 starting pitchers are:
1. Jeff Samardzija. In his first season as a starting pitcher, "The Shark" led the rotation with a 9.27 K/9, 3.3 WAR, 174 IP, and 28 games started. Samardzija ranked second with a 1.07 WPA. Also, Samardzija had a 2.89 BB/9, 3.81 ERA, .237 AVG, and a 1.22 WHIP.
2. Ryan Dempster. Having been traded at the trading deadline and slogging through weeks of the media and their trade rumors, Dempster led the rotation with a 2.34 BB/9, 2.25 ERA, .208 AVG, 1.04 WHIP, and a 1.57 WPA. Dempster was second with a 2.1 WAR. Dempster also had a 7.18 K/9.
The top 2 relief pitchers are:
1. James Russell. Russell led the bullpen with a 0.7 WAR and a 0.57 WPA. He was second with 69.1 IP in 77 appearances, 7.14 K/9, 2.99 BB/9, and a 3.25 ERA. Russell also had a .250 AVG and 1.30 WHIP.
2. Shawn Camp. Camp led the bullpen with 77.2 IP in 80 appearances (which ranked 1st in the National League... no surprise there, huh?) and a 2.43 BB/9. Camp was second with a 0.6 WAR and 1.29 WHIP.
Here's the top 10 Win Probability Added Plays from 2012.
10.) Thu 8/30 vs. MIL (W 12-11): Bottom 9, Cubs trail 10-11, 1 out, runners on 1st and 3rd. Anthony Rizzo hits a ground ball double down the right field line off Francisco Rodriguez. Luis Valbuena scores and Starlin Castro advances to 3B. Score tied at 11. WPA: 38.7%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 84.2%.
9.) Fri 6/8 at MIN (L 7-8, 10 inn.): Top 8, Cubs trail 5-6, 0 outs, runner on 1st. Alfonso Soriano hits a two-run home run into the third deck in left field off Glen Perkins. David DeJesus scores. WPA: 38.9%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 73.8%.
8.) Tue 4/24 vs. STL (W 3-2 in 10 innings): Bottom 10, score tied at 2, 2 out, runners on first and second. Alfonso Soriano hits a ground ball single past the second baseman off Fernando Salas. Tony Campana scores and the Cubs win 3-2. WPA: 39.0%. Cubs Win Expectancy: 100.0%.
7.) Fri 5/11 at MIL (L 7-8, 13 inn.): Top 9, Cubs trail 4-5, 1 out, runner on 2nd. David DeJesus hits a triple to right-center field off John Axford. Ian Stewart scores. Score tied at 5. WPA: 43.0%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 66.4%.
6.) Wed 5/30 vs. SD (W 8-6): Bottom 9, score tied at 6, 2 outs, runner on 1st. Darwin Barney hits a 2-run home run to left-center field off Dale Thayer. Bryan LaHair scores. Cubs win 8-6. WPA: 43.8%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 100.0%.
5.) Tue 4/24 vs. STL (W 3-2 in 10 innings): Bottom 9, Cubs trail 1-2, 0 out, bases empty. Bryan LaHair hits a solo home run to deep left-center field off Marc Rzepczynski. WPA: 44.0%. Cubs Win Expectancy: 63.4%.
4.) Sun 8/5 at LAD (L 6-7): Top 7, Cubs trail 3-4, 2 outs, runners on 1st and 2nd. Alfonso Soriano hits a fly ball double to deep left field off Javy Guerra. David DeJesus and Brett Jackson score. Cubs lead 5-4. WPA: 44.5%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 71.6%.
3.) Thu 6/7 at MIL (L 3-4, 10 inn.): Top 8, Cubs trail 1-2, 2 out, runner on 1st. Bryan LaHair hits a two-run home run to right-center field off Francisco Rodriguez. Alfonso Soriano scores. WPA: 48.7%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 68.7%.
2.) 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: 49.1%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 53.4%.
1.) Mon 4/23 vs. STL (W 3-2): Bottom 9, Cubs trail 1-2, 2 out, runners on second and third, 2-2 count. Joe Mather hits a ground ball single to center field off Jason Motte. Bryan LaHair scores, Geovany Soto scores and the Cubs win 3-2. WPA: 76.2%. Cubs Win Expectancy: 100.0%.
Below is a selection of 20 Cubs games from the 2012 season. Which game do you think is the best? Happy Voting, and Keep The Faith : )
2003 Chicago Cubs Video Tribute - Keeping the Dream Alive (via mikeg332008)