MLB Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs: 5 Biggest Surprises Through First Half Of 2014 Season

Chicago Cubs: 5 Biggest Surprises Through First Half of Season

Chicago Cubs
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs have had a few standout players during the first half of the 2014 MLB season. While the win-loss record may not be up to par, there have been some good points during the year thus far. In addition to this list, minor league top prospects Kris Bryant and Javier Baez also deserve consideration as pleasant surprises this season. The official halfway mark of the season was reached in Boston, and here are the Cubs' biggest surprises.

5. Luis Valbuena

Luis Valbuena
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

5. Luis Valbuena

Luis Valbuena
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro have been the offensive leaders for the Cubs through the first half, but that is to be expected of them. What is a surprise is the bat of Luis Valbuena. Excluding Rizzo and Castro, it is Valbuena who would be leading many of the offensive categories for the Cubs, which is a nice surprise to see from the utility man.

4. Hector Rondon

Hector Rondon
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

4. Hector Rondon

Hector Rondon
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

In the winter, the Cubs signed Jose Veras to be the closer. That move did not exactly pan out as Veras is no longer a member of the club. In his place, a few guys have gotten save chances, but it is Hector Rondon who has separated himself for the role. A long-term handle on the closer spot is still TBD, but Rondon has really thrown the ball well for the majority of the season. It has been a nice surprise to see out of the pen.

3. Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

3. Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

As the ace and Opening Day starter, it was expected to see Jeff Samardzija lead the staff this season. The surprising part has been just how well he has pitched. His walks are down, and he led the league in ERA for a while. He has been dominate in his starts. What has also been head-scratching is the hard luck Samardzija has had on the mound. His record deserves to be much better than what it is currently.

2. Jason Hammel

Jason Hammel
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

2. Jason Hammel

Jason Hammel
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In his first year as a Cub, Jason Hammel has had a strong first half. He leads the team in wins and sports a strong K:BB rate. Chicago has really gotten more than what they anticipated from the right-hander. Hammel's surprising success has now created questions on if he will finish the second half as a Cub, or be moved for prospects.

1. Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

1. Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Arrieta missed the first few weeks of the year due to injury. He has certainly made up for that lost time with the streak he has been on lately. In six June starts, Arrieta was amazing. He posted 39.1 innings pitched allowing just four earned runs and striking out an astounding 48 batters. Arrieta has flirted with no-hit bids in his last two starts. It has been a great surprise to see Arrieta really round into form.

 

Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.