Chicago Cubs: End-of-season grades for key players from the 2021 team

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Rafael Ortega / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Production from the outfield was very mixed this season

The departed outfielders: 

Kris Bryant: A-

We have to list him as an outfielder because he played a ton of it as a Cub in 2021. Bryant, for the most part, looked like his old self. He hit 18 home runs and slashed .267/.358/.503 with a .861 OPS and 129 wRC+. He also made his fourth All-Star team. His numbers were better through the first few months, but he went through a slump which saw his slash dip a bit. It was tough seeing him in a Giants uniform when he returned to Wrigley last month, and the trade return was very disappointing, but he will always be a hero on the North Side.

Joc Pederson: C

The “big” acquisition of the offseason, Pederson was either red hot or ice cold. He ended up finishing his brief Cubs tenure with a .230/.300/.418 slash with 11 home runs and a .718 OPS in 73 games. Balance out the hot and cold and Pederson showed solid power with a pretty mediocre slash. It was an overall forgettable tenure with the Cubs for the former All-Star slugger.

Jake Marisnick: C-

The numbers are not that great, .227/.294/.438 in 65 games. However give some credit to Marisnick, during the Cubs’ early success in the season he came up with some big hits. From April 21 through June 11 he hit .318 with four home runs. His nice stretch in May was fun at least and he helped the Cubs sweep the defending champion Dodgers.

The rest: 

Ian Happ: C-

Alright, I know many will want to grade Happ harshly for the year he had, but look at the end results. He hit a career-high 25 home runs with a .226/.323/.434 slash, 103 wRC+ and 1.2 fWAR. On the surface that is at least a C grade with a .320+ OBP and 400+ slugging. That said he really struggled for most of the season. Do this same evaluation on him in July and it is no doubt an F, but his resurgence at the end of the year helped bump him up. From August 10 through the end of the season he posted a 1.004 OPS in 48 games.

Jason Heyward: F

Yeah, you do not expect .214/.280/.347 from a guy making over $20 million in a season. Good dude, good teammate, not good numbers.

Rafael Ortega: A

Another guy who came out of nowhere and performed. The 30-year-old Ortega has bounced around several organizations over the years and had only 143 MLB games under his belt since his 2012 debut with the Rockies prior to this year. Ortega slashed .291/.360/.463 with 11 home runs and a 120 wRC+ in 103 games. He hit for a good average, got on base and showed nice pop with his bat. Very impressive and professional approach from Ortega in 2021, props to him.

There were plenty of other guys who played in the outfield, but all under 30 games and it is hard to grade those players.