The 2008 Chicago Cubs had eight All-Stars, a club record, and almost as many as we have seen in the past eight years. The thing is, these players aren't the ones that drive this team.
Obviously, it doesn't hurt, but the Cubs are without a doubt driven by the guys "behind" the scenes.
Ryan Theriot, Mark DeRosa, Mike Fontenot, Reed Johnson, and Ronny Cedeno are just as important as the "Stars" we saw last week in New York. These are the grinders, the wheels, and the players that have taken the Cubs from an offensive enigma to an offensive powerhouse.
Think back a few years; remember Sosa and H-Rod? How bout Sosa, Alou, and Ramirez, featuring Rondell White? Some of these offenses that featured Slammin' Sammy Sosa hitting 50-60-plus bombs were never at the top of the National League in offense.
Despite being at the top of the league in home runs year in and year out, they were also up there in solo home runs.
The Cubs haven't had mainstays at the top of the lineup in years. They rented Kenny Lofton and had Brian McRae and Eric Young, but none had an adequate on-base percentage.
That's not even mentioning that they didn't drive in runs and their No. 2 hitter was no more adequate than they were.
Theriot, DeRosa, Fontenot, and Johnson are regulars, and Cedeno has been their most productive pinch-hitter this year. None are powerful, but they play their roles as good as any.
Theriot, bouncing between leadoff and the two hole is now batting .329 with a .401 OBP. DeRosa has played 2B, 1B, 3B, LF, and RF, and has contributed a .280 BA and 50 RBI. Fontenot has a .530 slugging percentage, with eight home runs and 14 doubles in just 151 ABs.
Johnson has held strong in CF, helping more with his defense. His batting average is still above the league average, and he has contributed numerous clutch hits that are more important and that have evaded the Cubs in the past.
The stellar play of Theriot and Fontenot, along with DeRosa's versatility, has cut down Ronny Cedeno's playing time. He has not used any excuses. Despite only 31 starts, he has driven in 20 runs while scoring 21 himself.
I dub these five, "The Quiet Riot" after their leader. As long as they keep going, the Cubs keep going. This is the heart and soul of the team that could end 100 years of sorrow. I personally thank Jim Hendry for knowing his personnel.