Chicago Cubs: Kerry Wood in 2011
2011 was Mike Quade’s only season as Cubs manager, as the team went 71-91. It would be the end of an era, as it was the last season under Jim Hendry. Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano are among those who played their final season with the Cubs that year. 2011 also marked the return of a Cubs legend.
It’s hard to categorize Kerry Wood as an “underrated” player or “unsung hero”, but he quietly had a nice year for the Cubs in 2011. Wood had converted to a reliever during his first stint with the Cubs after injuries forced him to stop starting. He pitched for the Cleveland Indians in 2009 and part of 2010 before being traded to the Yankees. Wood was masterful in the Bronx, allowing just two earned runs in 26 innings pitched. That earned him another shot with the Cubs in 2011.
The big right-hander got into 55 games that year, pitching 51 innings, and put up a solid 3.35 ERA. He also continued his career-long trend of piling up strikeouts, with a rate of 10.1 per nine innings of work.
Wood began the 2012 season with the Cubs, but he struggled to start the year and decided to retire. His last outing, in which he struck out Dayan Viciedo of the Chicago White Sox, was one of the highlights of what was otherwise a miserable 2012 season. I’ll never forget the long-standing ovation he received from the audience at Wrigley Field that day as he walked off the field to end his career.