The Chicago Cubs have reached the halfway point of a miserable season. The losses have mounted, while the team dives head-first into rebuilding. Despite the Cubs' dismal on-field performance several players have emerged to provide the Wrigley faithful with a bit of hope.
LaHair was recently named as a reserve on the National League All-Star team. After toiling in minor league obscurity for years, the 29-year-old rookie has had a season to remember. LaHair has slammed 14 home runs and posted an All-Star worthy .898 OPS in 71 games. He recently shifted from first base to right field to make way for another surprising Cubbie.
The Cubs acquired Anthony Rizzo from San Diego shortly after Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer arrived to head up Chicago's new-look front office. Rizzo bombed in his first extended taste of the major leagues last season with the Padres. He quickly emerged as the Cubs' top prospect in 2012 and spent 10 weeks making a mockery Pacific Coast League pitching. The Cubs added Rizzo to the roster in late June and this time his hot hitting carried over the big leagues. In his first nine games with the Cubs, Rizzo has three doubles, three home runs, and a lofty .990 OPS. He looks like a keeper.
Soriano was the topic of much trade discussion prior to the start of the season. His diminished production, recurring leg issues, and gargantuan contract rendered him virtually immovable. After getting off to a laughably slow start Soriano has re-emerged as the slugger of old. He does still loathe taking a walk and is generally considered a defensive liability, but the renewed power stroke could interest an American League team in search of a designated hitter. Soriano has hit 15 home runs since May 15.
The Cubs acquired Wood from the Reds over the winter in the Sean Marshall trade. Wood began the season at Triple-A Iowa and didn't join the Cubs' rotation until late May. In that short time he has established himself as one of Chicago's most dependable starters. Given the paucity of advanced pitching prospects in the Cubs' organization, Wood's emergence is an important step. Wood is 3-3 with a 3.05 ERA in nine starts. He has allowed just 41 hits in 56 innings.
The conversion of Samardzija from setup man to starter didn't figure to be a smooth transition. He's hit some rough patches, but the good has certainly outweighed the bad in Samardzija's first season as a major-league starter. The 27-year-old right-hander is 6-7 with a 4.77 ERA in 16 starts. He's fanned 96 batters and walked just 35. Samardzija has flashed the potential to be a solid middle of the rotation starter for the rebuilding Cubs.
*Information gathered from http://www.baseball-reference.com