The Cubs went 2-7 to finish up the last week and a half of the season. The team was swept in Denver by the Rockies, and dropped two of three to both the Diamondbacks and Astros. The poor week helped vault the Cubs back into the slot for the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft. The team ended the season three games ahead of the Rockies for that draft slot after starting the nine-game stretch a half-game behind them.
Runs Scored: 27 | Runs Scored per Game: 3.00 | Runs Allowed: 51 | Runs Allowed per Game: 5.67
Competition Adjusted Runs Scored: 0.61 | Competition Adjusted Runs Allowed: 1.33
The Cubs were 39% worse than the average offense and 33% worse than the average pitching staff. Cubs starters pitched 43 of the 79 innings played, or 54% of the innings pitched, which is the lowest it has been since we began tracking it mid-season. While these competition-adjusted numbers are relatively new, this last stretch of games was probably the worst stretch the Cubs had all season. The following should sum up the team's struggles: the Astros, owners of a .340 winning percentage, shut us out in two consecutive home games.
The Three Most Important Plays
10/3 Bot 9, bases loaded with 2 outs, 4-4 Tie: Bryan LaHair hits a walk-off single off Hector Ambriz to win the game, resulting in a .343 WPA. The Cubs had a 65.7% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 100% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
10/3 Top 8, men at 1st and 2nd base with no outs, 4-1 Cubs: Justin Maxwell homers off Shawn Camp to tie the game, resulting in a -.318 WPA. The Cubs had an 81.8% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 50.0% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
9/28 Top 5, man at 1st base with 2 outs, 2-0 Diamondbacks: Dave Sappelt homers off Ian Kennedy to tie the game, resulting in a .227 WPA. The Cubs had a 78.0% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 55.3% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
Most Valuable Cub Hitter
Alfonso Soriano: Soriano ended the season on a strong note, posting a .900 OPS in September. According to FanGraphs, Soriano finished the year with 4.3 WAR, which would make 2012 his second-best season as a Cub. He surpassed a couple of traditional metrics -- 30 home runs and 100 RBI -- and posted a couple of very good advanced metrics -- 116 wRC+ and 14.1 UZR -- that are all signals of a good player. On the basis of WAR, Soriano was the 35th best player in the game. That's awfully good for someone who most of us thought was done. While Soriano's resurgence likely won't lead to lucrative trade offers, Theo and Jed should receive one or two decent trade proposals over the winter.
Most Valuable Cub Pitcher
Carlos Marmol: After a rough first two and a half months of the season, Marmol pitched considerably better through the rest of the season. Below are Marmol's pre-All-Star Break and post-All-Star Break numbers.
It almost looks like we're comparing two different pitchers. Marmol's walk rate dropped by 45%, his strikeout rate inched higher, and his ERA fell by 72%. Another interesting pattern is his GB/FB ratio. Prior to the All-Star Break, Marmol was giving up nearly twice as many fly balls as ground balls. That ratio came back down to a nearly one-to-one relationship after the All-Star Break. It's great to see Marmol back in form -- hopefully this carries through to next season.
Least Valuable Cub Hitter
Darwin Barney: After another rough week, Barney may really have a endurance-related issue. This was something that some suggested last season and over the offseason. While I will dig a little deeper in the near future, the numbers don't look good. Through July 31, Barney posted a .700 OPS, but from August 1 through season's end, Barney posted a sub-.600 OPS. Barney still managed to put up 2.4 WAR -- his most valuable major league season. If he could bring some consistency to his performance, Barney could be a legitimate piece of a Cubs contender.
Least Valuable Cub Pitcher
Shawn Camp: Camp had a rough last couple of outings, giving up a few hits and runs in three innings of work. However, Camp was one of two pitchers, the other being Russell, who helped get the bullpen through the season. Aside from his horrendous August, and short October, Camp was stellar. Posting monthly ERAs between 0.00 (September) and 3.95 (April). Given the team's lack of quality bullpen arms, Camp should be back on the mound for the Cubs next season.
Apologies for not putting this together sooner -- classes started last week, so life has been busy. Thanks for all of the comments over the course of the year. I hope these recaps have helped those of you who missed a week or two of action over the course of the season. I plan on putting together one more recap that will cover the entire season in a similar format -- look out for that over the course of the next week. Until then, enjoy the postseason.