A disappointing ending, but a lot of good for Cubs in 2020
|Tuesday, November 17, 2020, 8:15 AM- -|
The past season for the Cubs has brought various positives in a year where not much else has gone right for the world.
At the forefront of it all, the Cubs handled the Covid-19 induced protocols and pandemic baseball with the best in the business. The attitude toward the virus was something the league inquired about as they sharpened protocols — and the Cubs came away as the only team who lasted the entire season without a player or staff member testing positive after intake toward the end of June.
Not only that, when the Cubs look back on 2020, they’ll always be able to see NL Central Champions next to their name. Even though the season was only 60 games, its first division title since 2017 and their third in six seasons is not something to discredit.
Individually, there were multiple performances and efforts that should be recognized.
For starters, the man at the helm in his first season as manager — David Ross — led the Cubs to a division title amidst the conditions the Cubs and the league dealt with this year. By the end of the year, a bullpen that ranked near the bottom of the majors finished near the tops, and many people attribute that to Ross’ knowledge of handling pitching staffs from his length major league career as a catcher. Ross was acknowledged for his efforts with a National League Manager of the Year nomination and placed third in the league.
Despite not winning the National League Manager of the Year award, David Ross did a TERRIFIC job managing during this crazy season. pic.twitter.com/2WVH1MXB2a— Cubs Zone ™? (@CubsZone) November 10, 2020
The next and easiest contribution to the 2020 Cubs to highlight is Yu Darvish. Darvish continued his dominance that began after the all-star break in 2019 and multiplied it in 2020. Darvish was fourth in the NL in strikeouts, led the league in wins, and also finished second in the ERA race in the NL. Darvish was also named the pitcher of the month in August. Darvish’s season led to him being named a finalist for the NL Cy Young award — where he finished second.
The pitching staff had various success points beyond Darvish. Kyle Hendricks had a solid season with a sub 3 ERA and was named NL Player of the Week after his dominating opening day win. Alec Mills was one of two pitchers in the entire MLB to pitch a no-hitter in 2020, and he was awarded NL Player of the Week for his efforts in that historic performance.
Kyle Hendricks, big fan of Wrigley Field!— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) November 13, 2020
?? 77 starts with 0-3 ER
?? 9 starts with 4-5 ER
?? 0 starts with 6+ ER pic.twitter.com/UHejxcPngQ
Darvish and Hendricks were also named as finalists for the All-MLB team, as well as Jeremy Jeffers. Jeffers was a Swiss army knife for Ross’ bullpen and finished the season with a 1.54 ERA and a 1.2 WAR and was a stabilizing force in the back end of a bumpy bullpen.
On the award front, Darvish and Ian Happ received a few MVP votes for their efforts this year. On a team full of stars, Happ led the team in numerous offensive categories and was a spark for an offense that desperately needed one.
Defensively might be where this team excelled the most in 2020. Following the end of the season, the Cubs had a record seven players nominated for gold gloves. Hendricks, Mills, Anthony Rizzo, Nico Hoerner, Javier Baez, Jason Heyward, and Willson Contreras all received nominations. Baez was ultimately awarded his first career Gold Glove, and Rizzo earned his fourth career prestigious award.
The team as a whole was also awarded the first-ever team Gold Glove award.
Heck, even Ryan Tapera garnered an MVP vote.
It was a season that had a disappointing ending, no doubt, but with ‘significant turnover’ expected out of an organization that had promised sustained success — there was a lot to be impressed with from this team under a rookie manager in the midst of a pandemic, to say the least.
As the offseason gets underway and the Cubs potentially say goodbye to some players who’s tenure may have been expected to be longer, looking back on 2020 will have a lot more positives than originally thought.