Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Cubs All-Decade Single Season Team- Hitters

This team is simple. The best season at each position between 2000-2009 on the Cubs. I'm guessing that nobody besides Theriot on the Cubs team this season will crack this list. If some miracle happens I'll happily revisit the list, but come on.

Catcher- Geovany Soto 2008- .285/.364/.504/.868 120 OPS+ 23 HR 35 2B 86 RBI
Soto came on at the end of 2007 and was handed the Cubs catching job going into the 2008 season. Soto responded in a big way, winning the NL Rookie of the Year and giving Cubs fans hope for the future. What happened since then doesn't matter for this piece, and Soto certainly deserves all kinds of praise for having one of the best offensive seasons for an NL catcher in 2008.
Runners up- Michael Barrett 2006- 121 OPS +; Michael Barrett 2005- 110 OPS+

First Base- Derrek Lee 2005- .335/.418/.662/1.080 174 OPS+ 46 HR 50 2B 107 RBI 15 SB
The easiest choice, Lee was the best hitter in the NL in 2005. He won the batting title, lead the league in slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+, hits, and doubles. Had that Cubs team had better players around Lee, he probably would have won the MVP and even made a run at the triple crown. A wrist injury in 2006 cost Lee some of his power, leaving many of us to wonder how good he could have been the last three years had he not been injured.
Runners up- Lee 2007 131 OPS+; Fred McGriff 2002 125 OPS+

Second Base- Mark Bellhorn 2002- .258/.374/.512/.886 133 OPS+ 27 HR 24 2B 56 RBI
Bellhorn was Mark DeRosa before Mark DeRosa. His 2002 season saw him play at five different positions and carry a big stick at the plate. His low batting average was more than made up for with a great OBP and a solid slugging percentage. Ignore the low RBI total, he can't be held accountable for his teammates inability to be good at baseball.
Runners up- DeRosa 2008 118 OPS+; Todd Walker 2005 112 OPS+

Shortstop- Ryan Theriot 2009- .295/.347/.422 99 OPS+ 7 HR 17 2B 36 RBI 10 SB
This isn't a joke, the Cubs have been that bad at shortstop this decade. I would have taken Theriots 2008, and at the end of this season I may have to go back and do that. Still 2009 Theriot started to hit for some power, and his defense improved to the point where it was passable. Hopefully when somebody does this in 2019, they can point to a league average season.
Runners up- Theriot 2008 93 OPS+; nobody is getting third place

Third Base- Aramis Ramirez 2004- .318/.373/.578/.951 138 OPS+ 36 HR 32 2B 103 RBI
The name of the player wasn't in question, just which season was the best. Ramirez made Jim Hendry look like a genius in 2004. Him and Moises Alou carried the Cubs offense throughout a very good season. Aramis set his career high in OPS, OPS+, and hits. While this would be his best overall season, he wasn't close to as evolved a hitter as he became in 2008.
Runners up- Ramirez 2005-2008 OPS+ 135,126,129, 128

Left Field- Moises Alou 2004- .293/.361/.557/.919 131 OPS+ 39 HR 36 2B 106 RBI
Alou had his finest season as a Cub in the final year of his contract. With Sammy Sosa not sure about what his commitment to the team was, Alou was able to pick up the slack. While Alou will be forever remembered for the incident in the 2003 NLCS, history should recognize that he ultimately did everything the Cubs wanted over the time of his contract. 
Runners up- Alfonso Soriano 2007-8 OPS+ 123/121

Center Field- Jim Edmonds 2008- .256/.369/.568/.937 136 OPS+ 19 HR 17 2B 49 RBI
Edmonds came in as a chance pickup in mid-May. He was awful at first for the Cubs and was probably about one bad game away from being released. Next thing you know he helps to propel the Cubs, and is the left handed power bat everybody thought Fukudome would be. He also hit about 100 home runs in the playoff series, they just all fell victim to the Wrigley Field wind. 
Runners up- Kenny Lofton and Corey Patterson 2003. OPS+ 120/114

Right Field- Sammy Sosa 2001- .328/.437/.727/1.174 203 OPS+ 64 HR 34 2B 160 RBI
The single greatest offensive season in Cubs history. Yes Sosa was using steroids, but as most of this decade was marred with steroids, I can't pretend like those seasons didn't happen. What Sosa did this season was ignored by the national media because of the show Barry Bonds was putting on, but it was almost as good. Sosa had his most patient year at the plate, and also had a low number of strikeouts (for him). I cannot say enough about what Sosa did in this season, it was awesome to watch.
Runners up- Sosa 2000, 2002 OPS+ 161, 160

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