-David DeJesus: .262/.350/.403, .753 OPS.
All-around professional, quality at-bats, terrific defense, durable, team leader.
He’s been the Cubs’ best leadoff man since Juan Pierre in 2006 while leading the team in OBP (.350), finished second in triples (8), third in doubles (28) and fourth in hits (133).
There’s not a better player for the youthful Cubs players to look up to than DeJesus. He plays the game the right way–every day. It’s a blessing the 33-year-old returns for a second season on the North Side, even if he only lasts to the July 31 trade deadline next year.
Honorable mention: Shawn Camp (3-6, 3.59), 77.2 IP, 1.29 WHIP and tied for league lead with 80 appearances.
-Anthony Rizzo 2012: .285/.342/.463, .805 OPS.
After an underwhelming debut with San Diego in 2011 (.141, 1 HR, 9 RBI) Rizzo revamped his swing at Triple-A Iowa to become a legit hitting threat for the Cubs upon his arrival in late June.
In just over half a season (87-games) Rizzo hit 15 HR and drove in 48 RBI. In addition to his power, he also hit for average, against left-handers (4 HR, 17 RBI) and in the clutch with a sparkling .338 average with RISP. He finished second only to Soriano in game-winning RBI and held down the No.3 spot in the order from day one.
All signs indicate Rizzo will be a fixture at first base for years to come, a perennial All Star and a key figure in the Cubs’ rebuilding plans.
Perhaps the only thing more exciting than Rizzo’s improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 is how much better he could become next season.
Honorable mention: Alfonso Soriano 32 HR, career-high 108 RBI, best defensive season of his career.
There were obviously a ton of disappointments this season. Bryan LaHair, unfortunately, may have been the biggest of them all.
If we didn’t have high hopes for LaHair when he broke spring camp as the starting first baseman, we certainly did after he hit .308/.396/.582, .979 OPS after the first two months of the season.
Despite his hot start, most fans, including myself, remained curious if LaHair could consistently hit for an entire season. Ultimately, he proved he could not.
Although LaHair earned a somewhat surprising selection to the Mid-Summer Classic, it quickly became a tale of two season afterwards.
LaHair hit–.286, 14 HR, 30 RBI before the All Star break…and .202, 2 HR, 10 RBI thereafter. He went from starter to role player…and eventually to bench warmer come August.
Whether or not the arrival of Anthony Rizzo negatively effected LaHair offensively, I don’t know. But I still suspect it did as LaHair’s transition from first base to right field coincided with his decline at the plate.
What’s certain is the league’s pitching adjusted quicker to LaHair than he could counter back. Additionally, his inability to hit left-handers (.063) and overall sharp decline offensively leaves LaHair hanging in the balance of the Cubs’ plans this offseason.
Can LaHair retool his plate approach again this winter? Is it worth keeping his left-handed swing as a pinch-hitting threat…or is it time to move on from LaHair?
If the Cubs can trade LaHair I suspect they will. Otherwise, due to the lack of overall talent on the roster, he may get one more shot next spring…with better results, I hope.
Honorable mention: Ian Stewart .201, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 55-games.