2021 was a bitter year for Cubs fans as we said goodbye to some World Series heroes. Even so, there were some great moments both before and after the trade deadline that are worth recapping as the year draws to a close. Here are my top Cubs moments of 2021.
3. Patrick Wisdom Breaks Franchise Rookie Home Run Record
Patrick Wisdom was one of the Cubs’ success stories in 2021. After short stints with Texas and St. Louis in 2018 and 2019, Wisdom made just two plate appearances for the Northsiders in 2020. At the end of May 2021, he joined the Cubs’ starting lineup. His power soon earned him a regular spot in the starting lineup. On September 19th, he broke the Cubs’ rookie home run record previously held by 2015 Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant with his 27th home run during a 6-4 road victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Wisdom would finish the year with 28 home runs and a 117 OPS+.
2. Cubs Staff Throws First Combined No-Hitter in Franchise History
Cubs pitchers Zach Davies, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel joined forces for the 17th no-hitter in franchise history and the first combined no-hitter for the Northsiders against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodgers Stadium on June 24, 2021. It was the seventh no-hitter of the 2021 season, tying the MLB Modern Era (1900 to present) record. Tepera, Chafin and Kimbrel were later dealt at the trade deadline but their effort will forever be part of Cubs history.
1. Javier Báez’s Run-Stealing Rundown vs. Pirates
Javier “El Mago” Báez reached into his bag of tricks to make the top play of the 2021 MLB regular season in the Cubs’ 5-3 victory at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Báez stepped to the plate with two outs and Willson Contreras at second base in the top of the 2rd inning. Báez’s speed and baserunning skills frequently intimidate opposing defenders.
After fielding Báez’s ground ball, third baseman Erik González‘s throw to Will Craig at first went wide, pulling Craig down the first base line. As Craig moved in to tag Báez, the Cubs All-Star turned back and danced toward home plate, confusing Craig, who chased Báez instead of stepping on first to record the out. Contreras rounded third and slid home as Báez waved his arms to give the “safe” sign. After the slide, Báez immediately sprinted to first base to ensure the run would be scored, advancing to second on a throwing error by catcher Michael Pérez.
While some of these Cubs players are no longer part of the team, they provided some great memories in 2021. The Cubs are expected to add some new faces for 2022 in addition to Marcus Stroman, who was signed just ahead of the owners’ lockout. I am looking forward to a new year of Cubs memories with Stroman and his North Side teammates after the owners and players’ union reach a new collective bargaining agreement.
Featured Image: Chicago, IL/USA July 6, 2019 – Wrigley Field Aerial Summer Morning Beautiful View by Kent Weakley / Shutterstock.com.