The Cubs went 4-3 last week -- the team's first winning week. The team lost two of three against the Reds and won three of four against the Marlins in Miami. After the first three weeks of the season, the Cubs find themselves in last place, 5½ games behind the Pirates.
Runs Scored: 23 | Runs Scored per Game: 3.29 | Runs Allowed: 21 | Runs Allowed per Game: 3.00
Competition Adjusted Runs Scored: 0.80 | Competition Adjusted Runs Allowed: 1.03
The Cubs were 20% worse than the average offense and 1% worse than the average pitching staff. The offense continued to struggle, scoring only fifteen runs against one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball. The pitching staff continued to perform well, yielding only eight runs to one of the best offenses in the majors.
Cubs starters pitched 45⅓ of the 65⅔ innings played this week, or 69% of the innings pitched, which is down from last week's 77%, but higher than last year's average of 60%.
The Three Most Important Plays
4/25 Top 9, bases empty with two outs, 3-3 Tie: Luis Valbuena hits a home run off Steve Cishek, resulting in a .419 WPA. The Cubs had a 17.9% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 59.8% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
4/22 Bot 13, men at 2nd and 3rd with one out, 4-2 Cubs: Jay Bruce hits a double off Michael Bowden to tie the game, resulting in a -.416 WPA. The Cubs had a 69.2% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 27.6% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
4/23 Top 10, bases empty with one out, 2-2 Tie: Darwin Barney hits a home run off Manny Parra, resulting in a .388 WPA. The Cubs had a 16.8% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 55.6% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
Most Valuable Cub Hitter
Luis Valbuena: Valbuena hit a couple of huge home runs this week: a two-run home run in the top of the 13th against the Reds and a solo game-winning home run in the top of the 9th against the Marlins. In 19 games this season, Valbuena has posted a .254/.347/.492 line with a .357 wOBA and a 126 wRC+. Valbuena's great start has almost made the return of Ian Stewart inconsequential.
Most Valuable Cub Pitcher
Travis Wood: Wood threw very well against a potent Reds lineup and somewhat well against an anemic Marlins lineup, surrendering only four earned runs in 12⅓ innings. Last week, I mentioned Wood's unsustainably low 0.0% HR/FB rate -- this week, Wood surrendered three home runs. That said, Wood did a great job of limiting the damage by giving up all three of those homers with no one on base.
Wood is not going to continue to pitch at a 2.25 ERA-level -- he's sporting a sub-.200 BABIP, and an abnormally high 82.7% LOB%. Both of these numbers will likely revert to the mean over the course of the rest of the season, and while that means Wood won't be nearly as good as he has been, he could still be a sub-4.00 ERA pitcher and a good back-of-the rotation starter for the next several years.
Least Valuable Cub Hitter
Alfonso Soriano: Soriano has compiled nearly 100 at-bats this season and has floundered at the plate. He has a .258/.290/.337 line with a 72 wRC+, and looks like he's back to his pre-2012 self. If Soriano's 2012 season was just an anomaly, then the team may no longer have a legitimate shot at trading him before the expiration of his contract. According to ZiPS, Soriano is projected to post 0.4 WAR this season, which would make him entirely undesirable for any teams looking for outfield help.
Least Valuable Cub Pitcher
Michael Bowden: Bowden blew a two-run lead in the bottom of the 13th against the Reds. According to PITCHf/x, Bowden's fastball velocity has fallen 1.6 mph to 89.7 mph, and his change-up velocity has fallen 1.5 mph to 82.9 mph. Bowden isn't going to strike many hitters out and needs to hit his spots if he is to get hitters out. When he misses, Bowden is susceptible to getting hit hard, and that's exactly what happened in the bottom of the 13th against the Reds: Bowden surrendered two singles and two doubles, in a span of six batters, five of whom hit line drives.
The Cubs head back home for a four-game series against the Padres and a three-game set against the Reds.