Cubs Positional Performance, Part 2: The Outfield and Pitching

Only Junior Lake felt like hopping. - Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

In the second half of this new feature, we turn our attention to the performance of the Cubs outfield and pitchers. Some of the figures may just surprise you.

Greetings again, stat-lovers!

When last we met, we talked about the performance of the Cubs across the infield. The best position is currently shortstop, where Starlin Castro (and to a very small extent Emilio Bonifacio) have put up numbers that rank the Cubs second in the National League in average, slugging, and OPS at the position. The worst infield position is currently third base, where the tandem of Luis Valbuena and Mike Olt (with another small dash of Bonifacio) has the Cubs 12th in batting average and on-base percentage, and 11th in OPS.

In the second half of this feature, we will take a look at the performance in the outfield and on the mound.  The outfield figures presented below are the standard four-way split line (AVG / OBP / SLG / OPS).  For pitching, we'll be looking at ERA, WHIP, and FIP (taken from FanGraphs) as our metrics.  If you have any that you feel are worthy candidates, feel free to leave a comment.  The rank in the National League and NL Central is also included. Statistics are as of games played on Sunday, May 4.

LEFT FIELD

Cubs: .259 / .297 / .420 / .716
NL Rank: 7 / 11 / 5 / 7
Division Rank: 3 / 4 / 1 / 2
NL Average: .250 / .311 / .406 / .718
NL Best: Braves, .298 / .372 / .561 / .933
NL Worst: Phillies, .229 / .305 / .295 / .600

These results probably come as somewhat of a surprise. Even more surprising is the performance of Junior Lake, who has three homers and a .902 OPS as a left fielder. A .441 BABIP is certainly helping Lake out there. Unfortunately, the performance of the Ryans - Ryan Kalish (.608 OPS) and Ryan Sweeney (.301 OPS) - doesn't quite match up.

CENTER FIELD

Cubs: .287 / .341 / .365 / .706
NL Rank: 5 / 3 / 8 / 8
Division Rank: 2 / 2 / 3 / 3
NL Average: .263 / .323 / .397 / .720
NL Best: Rockies, .362 / .399 / .569 / .968
NL Worst: Reds, .214 / .275 / .278 / .553

The results here are not as surprising as left field, given the hot start to the season for Bonifacio (.328 AVG, .814 OPS in center field, but a .438 BABIP). The Pirates lead the division, entirely due to the performance of Andrew McCutchen who has all of Pittsburgh's plate appearances in center.

RIGHT FIELD

Cubs: .205 / .226 / .274 / .499
NL Rank: 13 / 15 / 15 / 15
Division Rank: 4 / 5 / 5 / 5
NL Average: .251 / .319 / .397 / .716
NL Best: Marlins, .290 / .367 / .605 / .972
NL Worst: Us.

And... welcome to the black hole. You knew it was out there somewhere. Obviously Nate Schierholtz is to thank for these rankings (.191 AVG, .438 OPS), and it's only the .750 OPS for Kalish and .707 for Justin Ruggiano that keep it from being even worse. In case you're wondering who's actually hitting worse than the Cubs in the division, that would be the Cardinals, where the best hitter they have in right is Allen Craig at .190.

STARTING ROTATION

Cubs: 3.72 / 1.291 / 3.39
NL Rank: 9 / 8 / 4
Division Rank: 4 / 4 / 1
NL Average: 3.65 / 1.258 / 3.82
NL Best (WHIP): Braves, 2.50 / 1.065 / 3.35
NL Worst: Diamondbacks, 5.73 / 1.471 / 4.54

This set of numbers paints a very interesting picture. The Cubs' rotation is in the middle of the pack in the National League in both ERA and WHIP, yet they're fourth in the division in both categories. That goes to show just how powerful the pitching is in the Central. Just imagine where we'd be if we didn't have Carlos Villanueva included in there. Then again, we do have Jason Hammel's performance on the other side of the coin, so we're probably right where we should be. Oh, and in last? That'd be the Pirates, whose starters are 3-15 with a 4.59 ERA and a 1.327 WHIP. Quite a change from 2013, wouldn't you say?

BULLPEN

Cubs: 3.68 / 1.342 / 4.35
NL Rank: 8 / 10 / 12
Division Rank: 3 / 4 / 4
NL Average: 3.36 / 1.252 / 3.65
NL Best (WHIP): Giants, 1.86 / 0.941 / 3.34
NL Worst: Reds, 4.39 / 1.522 / 4.60

The workhorses of the bullpen are currently Hector Rondon (16 IP, 1.69 ERA, 1.188 WHIP), Justin Grimm (12 2/3, 2.13, 1.421) and Pedro Strop (12 1/3, 2.92, 1.216). The FIP would be better if not for the 43 walks and nine homers allowed; the pen's strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.79 is second-worst in the NL. The Reds are last in the division and are eagerly awaiting the return of Aroldis Chapman.

So that's it for this time. Tune in next time to see if the Cubs can hold their rank at shortstop and escape the cellar in right field. Those questions, and more, to be answered in the next installment of Positional Performance!

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