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Today in Cubs history: What a difference a year makes

Just check out the difference between this lineup ... and now.

Nico Hoerner. P.J. Higgins and David Bote celebrate Bote’s homer on October 5, 2022
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

One year ago today, the Cubs defeated the Reds in Cincinnati 15-2, finishing up a season in which they went 18-13 after September 1. (If they’d played at that percentage in September 2023, we’d be watching the Cubs in the postseason right now.)

What I wanted to point out to you are the 18 men who played for the Cubs in that game:

Well, that’s a blast from the past. Of those 18 players, just seven were on the Cubs’ major league roster at the end of the 2023 season, with four others in the Cubs minor leagues.

Here’s where all 18 players were as the 2023 season ended.

Zach McKinstry: Hit .231/.302/.351 with nine home runs and 16 stolen bases as a more-or-less regular utility guy for the Tigers, starting 142 games.

Seiya Suzuki: Hit .285/.357/.485 with 31 doubles and 20 home runs for the Cubs, and finished strong.

Alfonso Rivas: Started the year with the Padres, traded to the Pirates at the deadline as part of the Rich Hill deal. Hit .229/.303/.422 with three home runs. He had a five-RBI game against the Reds September 23 in a wild 13-12 Pirates win that helped keep the Reds out of the postseason.

Patrick Wisdom: Hit .205/.289/.500 with 23 home runs in just 268 at-bats for the Cubs.

Ian Happ: Hit .248/.360/.431 with 35 doubles and 21 home runs for the Cubs.

Nelson Velázquez: Hit three home runs in 13 games for the Cubs, and was traded to the Royals for Jose Cuas at the deadline. Hit .233/.299/.579 with 14 home runs in 40 games for Kansas City.

Franmil Reyes: Hit .186/.231/.288 with two home runs in 19 games for the Royals, who released him in May. He signed with the Nationals and hit .219/.322/.383 with five home runs for their Triple-A team at Rochester before being released in August. Fun fact: Reyes is just six months older than Cody Bellinger.

Nico Hoerner: Hit .283/.346/.383 with nine home runs and 43 stolen bases as the Cubs’ regular second baseman. Played in a career-high 150 games and led the Cubs with 98 runs.

Esteban Quiroz: Traded to the Phillies for cash considerations in March and hit .231/.348/.354 in 96 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

P.J. Higgins: Signed with the Diamondbacks in January, re-acquired by the Cubs for cash considerations in July, played the entire season in Triple-A and hit .306/.382/.476 in 90 games split between Reno and Iowa.

David Bote: Played the entire season at Iowa and batted .258/.361/.456 with 29 doubles and 14 home runs in 99 games. He is under contract to the Cubs for $5.51 million in 2024, with team options for 2025 and 2026 with a total of $1.5 million in buyouts for those two years.

Christopher Morel: Hit .247/.313/.508 with 26 home runs in 107 games for the Cubs. The homers tied Bellinger for the team lead.

Adrian Sampson: Spent most of 2023 on the injured list. Was activated and traded to the Rays at the deadline for Josh Roberson, then released by the Rays two days later. In nine games in the Cubs system this year, posted a 9.32 ERA and allowed six home runs in 28 innings.

Adbert Alzolay: Became the Cubs closer and posted 22 saves in 25 opportunities before injuries forced him to miss a lot of the last two weeks. Still, posted a 1.8 bWAR season with 67 strikeouts and only 13 walks in 64 innings.

Mark Leiter Jr.: Had a really good season for the Cubs until the wheels fell off in September. Leiter had a 2.84 ERA and 0.965 WHIP in 59 games through the end of August, but September, yikes: 10 games, 8.59 ERA, only three strikeouts in 7⅓ innings.

Michael Rucker: Posted a 4.91 ERA and 1.438 WHIP in three separate stints for the Cubs totaling 35 appearances, but did not get recalled in September despite the Cubs’ relief troubles. He had a 1.35 ERA and 0.797 WHIP in 13 appearances for Iowa.

Rowan Wick: Made 23 appearances for Iowa with an 8.60 ERA and 1.747 WHIP. The Cubs released him in July and he signed with the Braves. Four days after they signed him, the Braves released him. He then signed with the Blue Jays and made 20 relief appearances for their Triple-A team in Buffalo with a 3.86 ERA and 0.952 WHIP.

Brandon Hughes: Made 17 appearances for the Cubs, did well early on (3.60 ERA in the first 12) but allowed seven runs in his last five outings and hit the injured list. Eventually a knee injury was diagnosed and he had surgery. He came back and pitched in eight games for Iowa in September, but the results were not good: 8.64 ERA, 2.160 WHIP. Perhaps he can return to form in 2024.

All of that goes to show how different the Chicago Cubs are on October 5, 2023 than they were a year ago today. More changes, hopefully good ones, are to come this offseason.