What a terrific comeback by the Giants who become the first team in the National League to win the NLDS after losing the first 2-games of the series…not to mention, doing so in this one-year format where they had to play the last 3-games on the road. Outstanding.
Buster Posey’s fifth-inning grand slam made the difference as part of a 6-run inning against Reds starter Matt Latos. Cincinnati had plenty of chances, including having the game-tying runs at the plate in four consecutive innings. It was too little, too late from the Reds who could never finish off the Giants after leaving the bay up 2-0.
“The Reds did not lose this series, the Giants won it.” -Ron Darling TBS
-Alfonso Soriano: .262/.322/.499, .821 OPS.
Say what you will about Sori, but this was his best all-around season with Chicago. Despite a nagging knee injury, Soriano played in 151-games, hit 32 HR and drove in a career-high 108 RBI, leading the club in both categories, with little protection in the lineup.
He may not win the Gold Glove, but his fielding was the best it’s ever been and the guy earned every penny of his contract setting a positive example for the youthful Cubs both on and off the field.
Now it’s a matter of whether or not the Cubs should trade him this offseason? If so, how do the Cubs replace Soriano’s offensive production, or is it best to keep him for another season?
Honorable mentions: Darwin Barney (clutch fielding, leadership), David DeJesus (gamer, leadership), Anthony Rizzo (sparked lineup, solid defense), Shawn Camp (because Sveum says so!).
-Jeff Samardzija: (9-13, 3.81). Pitching far better than his record indicates, Shark led the team in starts (28), innings pitched (174.2) and strikeouts (180).
Had it not been for the club’s decision to cut Samardzija’s season short in September it’s likely he would’ve finished the 2012 campaign with 30-starts, close to 200.0 innings pitched and double-digit wins.
In his first full season starting, however, the soon-to-be 28-year-old proved he can be a reliable top-of-the-rotation arm entering his sixth season with Chicago.
Honorable mentions: Matt Garza (5-7, 3.91) and the departed…Ryan Dempster (5-5, 2.25) in 16-starts, Paul Maholm (9-6, 3.74) in 20-starts.
-James Russell: (7-1, 3.25). Easily the most reliable arm in the bullpen. The 26-year-old southpaw allowed just 5 HR in nearly 70 innings pitched (69.1) and was second in strikeouts (55) only to Carlos Marmol’s 72 and games (77) to Shawn Camp’s league leading 80-appearances.
He set career-highs in appearances (77), innings pitched (69.1), strikeouts (55), home runs allowed (5) and hit batters (1). His ERA+ was a solid 21-points above the league average.
Russell is one of the few, if only, bright spots for the Cubs’ bullpen heading into 2013. It took Sean Marshall a few seasons to become one of the best left-handed relievers in the National League, and Russell appears to be headed down the same path entering his fourth season.
Honorable mentions: Shawn Camp (3-6, 3.59) league-leading 80-appearances, led Cubs relievers in innings pitched (77.2), third in strikeouts (54) and WHIP (1.29). Michael Bowden (0-0, 2.95) fourth in strikeouts (29) second in WHIP (1.25).
-Darwin Barney: A no-brainer. Set the NL record and tied the major league record for most consecutive games at 2B without a fielding error (141).
And despite the consecutive-games errorless streak, Barney continued to show solid range, dive after balls and make difficult throws from his position.
He started the second most games (146), turned the second most double plays (96) and his two miscues were the fewest of any regular starting second baseman in the National League.
It’s a crime if Barney doesn’t win the Gold Glove. And no, I don’t think the Cubs should trade Darwin this offseason…see above. Honorable mentions: Alfonso Soriano (12 assists, 1 error, .996), David DeJesus (8 assists, 2 errors, .993), Reed Johnson (3 assists, 1 error, .987).