June started off with a 2-8 road trip, then a 2-4 home stand, followed by a 2-4 road trip, then a 5-1 home stand if you count the July 1st game. The Cubs won all four Tuesday's and lost all four Wednesday's. All of this adding up to a 10-17 June, which is the exact record the Cubs had in May. The Cubs ended the month 28-49, 6th in the Central (15 games behind Reds) and tied with Padres for 12th in Wild Card (14 games behind Pirates, Mets, and Dodgers). Even if the record doesn't indicate any sign of improvement, I feel the Cubs have been improving a little.
I think it starts with the better at-bats the Cubs have been putting together, which is coinciding with the addition of new hitting coach James Rowson, who was hired to replace Rudy Jaramillo on June 12. Actually, the wins have been coinciding with Anthony Rizzo's bat. With better at-bats, the starting pitcher throws more pitches per batter, which leads to a higher probability of relief pitchers coming into the game earlier in the game. Personally, I got tired of seeing the Cubs' opponent starting pitcher have about 75 pitches thrown and it would already be the 8th inning.
Here's the top 4 regular position player performers of June*:
1. Alfonso Soriano. The DH spot gave Soriano a chance to work on his swing during the game, and it showed. Soriano led the Cubs with a .582 SLG, .951 OPS, 5 doubles, 8 home runs, 18 RBI, 9 walks (!!!!), 57 total bases, and 13 extra base hits. Soriano was second with a .286 AVG, .369 OBP, and 28 hits. The only major offensive categories that Soriano didn't rank in was triples and stolen bases. No surprise there with his bad knee.
2. Reed Johnson. I was kind of torn on deciding where to rank Reed Johnson. He didn't play in 6 out of 27 games and had about half the at-bats as Castro, Barney, and Soriano. However, in the 54 at-bats Johnson had, he ranked high on the "average/percentage stats" categories, so I figured if I doubled all of Reed's stats, he would have led the team. He led the team with a .333 AVG, and a .390 OBP. Johnson was second with an .816 OPS and third with a .426 SLG.
3. Starlin Castro. Castro led the team with 29 hits and 3 triples. Castro is second with 45 total bases, 9 extra base hits and tied for second with DeJesus and Valbuena with 4 doubles. Castro was third with a .264 AVG. He was fourth with a .302 OBP, .409 SLG, and .711 OPS.
4. Luis Valbuena. I had to include Valbuena even though he didn't play the first half of June. Valbuena was second on the team with a .480 SLG, tied for second with LaHair with 3 home runs and tied with 4 doubles. Valbuena was third with a .744 OPS, 10 RBI and 7 extra base hits.
*ranked among the top 9 player at-bats.
Here's the top 3 starting pitchers of May:
1. Ryan Dempster. No suprise here. Dempster led the rotation with a 0.00 ERA. 22 innings pitched in 3 games, a total of 324 pitches to 83 batters, and zero earned runs were given up. Should Dempster have been an All-Star? Well, those are certainly All-Star kind of numbers, without-a-doubt. Here's some more of those numbers. Dempster also led the rotation with a 0.68 WHIP, .154 AVG, .195 OBP, .167 SLG, .362 OPS, 4.91 hits allowed per 9 innings, 1.23 walks per 9 innings, and 3 walks allowed.
2. Matt Garza. Garza led the rotation with 31 K's. Garza was second with a 1.16 WHIP, .295 OBP, 7.68 K's per 9, 1.73 BB per 9, and 7 walks allowed. Garza is third with a 3.72 ERA, .250 AVG, .379 SLG, .674 OPS and 8.67 hits per 9.
3. Travis Wood. Travis Wood was second in the rotation with a 2.27 ERA, .234 AVG, .342 SLG, .325 OPS, and 7.39 hits per 9. Travis was third with a .325 OBP, 1.20 WHIP and 24 K's.
The top 2 most reliable relief pitchers of June are*:
1. Manuel Corpas. Corpas led the bullpen with a 1.64 ERA, .184 AVG, 1.09 WHIP, .289 SLG, .601 OPS, and 5.73 hits per 9. Corpas was third with a .311 OBP, 6.55 K per 9 and 4.09 BB per 9.
2. James Russell. Russell was consistently good as usual. Russell was second with a 1.13 WHIP, .283 OBP, 7.43 K's per 9 and 2.70 BB per 9. Russell was third with 7.43 hits per 9. Russell was fourth with a .666 OPS, .383 SLG, .234 AVG and a 4.05 ERA.
*ranked among the top 5 relief pitcher innings pitched.
Just for fun, here's the best and worst of Cubs pitching in June:
Here's the top 5 Cubs Win Probability Added plays of June:
5.) Mon 6/25 vs. NYM (W 6-1): Bottom 4, scoreless game, 2 out, runner on 1st. Joe Mather hits a two-run home run to left-center field off Johan Santana. Geovany Soto scores. WPA: 24%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 77%.
4.) Tue 6/12 vs. DET (W 4-3): Bottom 8, score tied at 3, 2 out, bases loaded. Starlin Castro hits a weak ground ball to short off Phil Coke, reaches on a throwing error (E6). Darwin Barney scores (un-earned run, no RBI), Reed Johnson advances to 3rd, Tony Campana advances to 2nd. WPA: 25%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 88%.
3.) Sat 6/30 vs. HOU (W 3-2): Bottom 5, Cubs trail 1-2, 2 out, runner on 1st. Anthony Rizzo hits a two-run home run to right field off J.A. Happ. Starlin Castro scores. WPA: 31%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 68%.
2.) Fri 6/8 at MIN (L 7-8, 10 inn.): Top 8, Cubs trail 5-6, 0 outs, runner on 1st. Alfonso Soriano hits a two-run home run into the third deck in left field off Glen Perkins. David DeJesus scores. WPA: 42%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 75%.
1.) Thu 6/7 at MIL (L 3-4, 10 inn.): Top 8, Cubs trail 1-2, 2 out, runner on 1st. Bryan LaHair hits a two-run home run to right-center field off Francisco Rodriguez. Alfonso Soriano scores. WPA: 52%, Cubs Win Expectancy: 71%.
Below is a list of the 10 Cubs wins from June. Which Cubs win do you think is the best? It's a little tricky this month, there's no walk-off wins to vote for. Happy Voting : )