We all love quality baseball, but some some reason Jeff Samardzija has emerged as a fan favorite after only 1 real season of being a starter.
And really, it’s a peculiar thing.
He’s yet to really prove his true value to the team and yet, Cubs’ fans can’t get enough! Knowing how difficult we Cubs fans can be sometimes, I find this shocking as I’m totally caught up in Samardzija-rama myself.
This Samardzija love-in happened so organically, it consumed almost a full day’s worth of my thoughts trying to figure out why? Why do we Cubs fans love the Shark so much?
After much thought, I’ve assembled the top 10 reasons why Cubs fans have expressed such a deep admiration for the young man:
10. He passed up the NFL draft to pursue professional baseball after a solid college football career with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Anyone who choses baseball over another sport has a special place in my heart almost immediately… even if the other sport is cool like skydiving karate, or chicken-wing eating.
9. He doesn’t shy away from swinging the bat, even attempting a few bunts. Most pitchers will willingly take a strikeout when they’re at bat. Not Shark.
8. Samardzija impressed former Cubs manager and legend Lou Piniella so much during his major league debut (as a bullpen arm) that he put him in two days later for a save, which he earned.
7. That hairstyle and mustache. I mean come on, man… It’s just awesome.
6. 5 pitches at his disposal: fastball, sinker fastball, cutter, slider and his famously effective splitter. How effective? Try a .183 wOBA against it, 41% of his K’s coming on a strike 3 splitter, a 27% whiff rate, with 55.2% of batters taking a swing at the pitch. Ouu wee, that’s about as nasty as it gets.
5. Shark is smart on the mound. For example, you’ll never see him throw his cutter to left-handed batters who can see the arc and square up the pitch much better than right handed batters.
4. He took a Matt Garza shaving cream pie to the face during a post game TV interview with style and grace.
3. He rebutted the Matt Garza pie to the face by calling his fellow rotation mates “a bunch of idiots” on live TV after they threw seeds at him during a dugout interview with Len and Bob. Clearly he has a sense of humor and is light hearted.
2. A 3.3 WAR in 2012. Not much more to say about that in a pitching staff that was lacking at best.
1. Threw 2767 total pitches in 2012, an increase in 1200+ pitches from the previous year and is projected to pitch another 190+ total IP for the Cubs this season. All this despite the fact he was shut down early last season. Talk about arm strength and security for the future.
When you really break it down, it’s quite obvious why Cubs fans love Shark. Here’s hoping he has a successful career with the North Siders.