Remembering the random Chicago Cubs bats that played in 2021
On offense, the random Cubs stuck out in their own little ways. Matt Duffy and Sogard made their mark, for better or worse early on in the year. Duffy became an on-base machine early on, earning a mainstay spot in the order until injuries took him out for well over a month. His year ended with a surprising power surge as he hit four home runs and had a .937 OPS across September and October. Sogard was just not good, becoming the butt of many a joke about bad random Cubs.
There were a fair few feel-good stories on offense too. Trayce Thompson returned to the majors after a three-year hiatus and tore the cover off the ball in his 35 plate appearances with a .714 slugging percentage. Austin and Andrew Romine got their long-awaited chance to play with each other and even pitch to each other. It was the elder Romine who had the coolest overall baseball moment though as he hit a three-run, game-tying home run off Craig Kimbrel when the closer returned to Wrigley Field as a member of the White Sox. Andrew also retired after this year, ending his 11-year career.
For Austin, it was a bit of a tough break initially as he was slated to be the Cubs’ backup catcher until injuries started a chain reaction of random catcher replacements, a rabbit hole you can dive down in Alex Patt’s latest piece. Of them all, it was Robinson Chirinos, the former Cub farmhand, that finally anchored the position in his first-ever appearance with the team that initially signed him out of Venezuela.
As someone with ties to Central Illinois, it would also be wrong of me to not mention Michael Hermosillo, a native of Ottawa, the “rival” to my hometown of Streator. He showed enough promise last year to earn a major league deal from the Cubs to come back next year which is a big win for us Central Illinoisans. Special mention to Crystal Lake native Nick Martini, Cubs legend and Josh Hader owner Ildemaro Vargas, late call-up Trent Giambrone, and Johneshwy Fargas, all of whom also appeared this year.