As “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks once said, “Spring training means flowers, people coming outdoors, sunshine, optimism and baseball. Spring training is a time to think about being young again.”
Spring training is underway, and every year, there’s one Cub who plays out of his mind and makes us excited for the future. Sometimes they live up to the high expectations. Other times, they leave us wanting, reminiscing about the future that once seemed to be so bright.
Let’s take a look at some of spring’s greatest stars of years past, and whether or not they followed up their unofficial spring training MVP performance with a season to be proud of.
Chicago Cubs spring training MVPs of years past: 2012 – Joe Mather
In 2012, Joe “It Doesn’t” Mather (nickname unconfirmed) had a spring for the ages. Finishing up with a .382 average, he drove in 15 runs in 26 games and had a positively scorching 1.116 OPS. Had he sustained that number over the course of the regular season, he would placed right between Lou Gehrig’s 1928 number and this other little known fella called Lou Gehrig in 1937.
Did he sustain it?
Absolutely not! Joe Mather was, without hyperbole, one of the worst batters in the majors during the 2012 season. He finished with the third worst WAR of all qualified players, batting .209 with an OPS that was basically half of his number in spring, at .581. It’s not like Mather was dragging the Cubs down at all, though. For one, he wasn’t an everyday starter, more a utility outfielder, and Chicago, on the whole, was abjectly terrible that year, finishing 61-101.
Unfortunately for Mather, this was his last stint in the big show. He signed a couple of minor league deals after this, but never had much success. He’s now the hitting coach for the Diamondbacks (isn’t irony wonderful?)