Chicago Cubs: Bryan LaHair in 2012
2012 was one of the worst seasons in Chicago Cubs history. It was the first year under the Theo Epstein regime and also the first year under another new manager, Dale Sveum. The Cubs went 61-101, and there were few individual performances to get excited about. However, there were a few choices for my “unsung hero.”
I considered Tony Campana, who batted .264 and stole 30 bases while playing center field. I also considered two relievers, Shawn Camp and James Russell, as the former got into 80 games and the later into 77 games while both posting ERAs in the 3.00’s. However, I decided to go with All-Star first baseman Bryan LaHair.
LaHair became the Cubs’ primary first baseman to start 2012 after the club decided not to retain Carlos Pena, who lasted just one year as a Cub. LaHair performed well in a brief audition in 2011, and the team decided he would fill in while they awaited the arrival of Anthony Rizzo. LaHair was batting .303 as late as June 14, with 12 home runs, earning him a spot on the National League All-Star team. That included a grand slam in St. Louis in the defending champion Cardinals’ home opener.
However, LaHair quickly faded after that, and Rizzo was called up and took over in the second half. LaHair wouldn’t play in the majors again after 2012, but his brief career ended on a high note: On the final day of the season, against the Houston Astros, he hit a walkoff single.