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Cubs Heroes And Goats: 2014 Revisited

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The feature full of numbers and charts that you loved from 2014 (or knew little to nothing about) is coming back again for the 2015 season! But how did 2014 truly end?

Will anyone unseat Anthony Rizzo as the top Hero for 2015?
Will anyone unseat Anthony Rizzo as the top Hero for 2015?
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 season starts tonight!  For all of you number-lovers out there, that can only mean one thing:

It's only one more day until Heroes and Goats starts again! (Insert celebratory music and thunderous fanfare here.)

Yes, Heroes and Goats will be making its triumphant return (or at least it's coming back) for the 2015 season.  For those of you who are not familiar with the Heroes and Goats feature, here's how it works.  During each game, Fangraphs has a chart that is updated after each batter that shows each team's probability of winning the game based on the situation at that point in time. Here's the chart from last season's opening game as an example. They also keep track of the typical box score statistics for each game as well as a statistic called WPA, which stands for Win Probability Added. This statistic measures each player's contribution to a team win or loss based on their performance in the game.

After each game ends, the final chart and statistics will be posted here and the players will be ranked based on their WPA performance in the game from highest to lowest. The three highest WPA scores for the game become the game's three Heroes, while the lowest three scores become the game's three Goats. A running tally of each player's "Hero Points" and "Goat Points" are also kept, using a completely unscientific and unoriginal method designed by me which gives three points for the top position in a game, two points for second and one point for third.

There will be one change to Heroes and Goats this season, and that change is in regard to how pitchers are handled. This season a pitcher will only be judged on his pitching performance, meaning that pitchers will not potentially show up twice in the Heroes and Goats list for a particular game if they have a good or bad night hitting. If a pitcher ends up with a score in the top or bottom three because of their hitting, it will not be included in the official rankings but I will keep a separate record of it to see how it would have impacted each pitcher's total points.

With this change for the 2015 season, I wanted to go back to the 2014 season to see how the points would have changed had pitchers only been judged on their pitching.  As a frame of reference, here are the final rankings from last season with pitchers' hitting included. I went back to each game from 2014 in Fangraphs and separated out the hitting performances for the pitchers where they would have ended up in the top or bottom three in a particular game.  There was also some re-balancing done by Fangraphs to the percentages in each game which caused some shifting in the rankings on a game-by-game basis. The majority of the rankings from each game stayed the same, but there were some changes here and there.

Here are the points that were given to pitchers in 2014 as a result of their hitting performances:

Overall

Hero

Goat

+/-

Travis Wood

10

3

7

Edwin Jackson

6

1

5

Jeff Samardzija

3

1

2

Brian Schlitter

2

0

2

Jake Arrieta

2

3

-1

Felix Doubront

0

1

-1

Dallas Beeler

0

1

-1

Kyle Hendricks

0

7

-7

Jason Hammel

4

14

-10

Not surprisingly, Travis Wood had the best hitting performance of the pitchers last season and gained the most points as a result of it. Jason Hammel had a particularly bad time at the plate which dragged down his overall ranking last season. The surprise to me was the positive score for Edwin Jackson; I didn't recall him being that great of a hitter last season, probably because it was hidden by the awful pitching performances.  Regrettably for him, that made his 2014 total look even worse than it already was.

After factoring out the pitchers' hitting and factoring in the re-balancing done by Fangraphs, here are the revised totals for the 2014 season:

Overall

Hero

Goat

+/-

Anthony Rizzo

87

39.5

47.5

Jake Arrieta

42

12

30

Starlin Castro

76

55.5

20.5

Chris Coghlan

55

37

18

Luis Valbuena

75

61

14

Justin Ruggiano

43

29

14

Jorge Soler

21

9

12

Kyle Hendricks

19

7.5

11.5

Ryan Sweeney

27.5

17.5

10

Brian Schlitter

22

14

8

Jason Hammel

20

12

8

Tsuyoshi Wada

17

9

8

Zac Rosscup

8

2

6

Chris Valaika

16

11.5

4.5

Pedro Strop

22

18

4

Kyuji Fujikawa

3.5

0

3.5

Emilio Bonifacio

26.5

23.5

3

Felix Doubront

6

3

3

Ryan Kalish

14.5

12

2.5

Darwin Barney

18

16

2

Jeff Samardzija

18.5

17

1.5

Chris Rusin

3

2

1

Rafael Lopez

1

0

1

Dallas Beeler

3

3

0

Welington Castillo

58.5

59

-0.5

Blake Parker

6

6.5

-0.5

Matt Szczur

9

10

-1

Hector Rondon

20.5

22

-1.5

Logan Watkins

3

4.5

-1.5

Eric Jokisch

1

3

-2

Mike Olt

26

30

-4

Dan Straily

1

5

-4

John Baker

15

19.5

-4.5

Wesley Wright

13

18

-5

Neil Ramirez

6.5

12

-5.5

Eli Whiteside

0

7

-7

James Russell

11

19

-8

Jose Veras

0

8

-8

Jacob Turner

4

12.5

-8.5

Justin Grimm

19

29

-10

Carlos Villanueva

11

23

-12

Javier Baez

16

32

-16

Arismendy Alcantara

20.5

43

-22.5

Travis Wood

22

45

-23

Junior Lake

22.5

46.5

-24

Nate Schierholtz

30

57.5

-27.5

Edwin Jackson

12

49

-37

Anthony Rizzo stayed at the top of the list but fell under the plus-50 mark that he originally had. It was still an extremely impressive performance for him nonetheless. On the other side, Jackson fell from his original total of minus-29 to a new total of minus-37, almost 10 points behind Nate Schierholtz who was second from the bottom.

Who will be the big Hero of the 2015 season? Who will be the top Goat? Will anyone surpass the plus-50 mark again this season? Will anyone be bad enough to hit the minus-40 mark? (Man, let's hope not.) We'll find out starting in just a few hours, when the road to the top Heroes and Goats begins for the 2015 season!