For most of the game Monday night, I was thinking we’d follow up a game where nearly everyone who played had a positive WPA with one where nearly everyone would have a negative WPA. And boy did I feel negative about that one most of the game. The Cubs did mount a late comeback, but alas the hole was too deep and the rally wasn’t enough and the Cubs can hang another one in the loss column.
When you lose to the Giants, you usually expect the names that beat you to maybe sound like Cueto and Bumgarner, Posey and Crawford. Those were the stars of 2016 for them, but this year Cueto has been less effective, Bumgarner has been hurt. Posey has been excellent but was relatively quiet and Crawford has been okay, but was shut down. Last night the Cubs were beaten largely by Ty Blach and Joe Panik with frustrating support from former Cub Justin Ruggiano.
To be fair, Ruggiano has always hit lefthanded pitchers well enough to sustain a major league career. And he does show good power against them with a .523 lifetime SLG against lefties. The only problem with that is that the Cubs pitchers who allowed an RBI double and a solo home run were righthanded pitchers John Lackey and Hector Rondon .
And on that unhappy note, we’ll get on to the Heroes and the Goats from yesterday’s game to see what WPA has to say about what happened. As a reminder, the Heroes and Goats themselves are determined by WPA (Win Probability Added — here’s a good explanation of how WPA works) and are not in any way subjective. Many days WPA will not tell the story of what happened, but often it can give at least a glimpse to who rose to the occasion in a high leverage moment or who didn’t get the job done in that moment. Also note, for the purposes of Heroes and Goats, we ignore the results of pitchers while they are batting and hitters while they are pitching. With that, we get to the results.
Game Chart for Monday, May 23 (Game 43):
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Jon Jay (.078). If you are going to have someone who only batted once on the hero podium, you are hoping their WPA is about three times this high. Jon had a single during the eighth inning that set up the key moment in the game which I suspect we will talk about later on...
- Hero - Ben Zobrist (.064). If you’ve watched the Cubs this year, you know that Ben Zobrist is showing signs of age. He seems a step or two slower. But if you are being fair to Ben, you’ll note that he’s still a productive offensive player. Ben has been very hot over his last 20 games. He’s hit safely in 17 of those games and walked in all 3 of the games he didn’t. Over that time, Ben has raised his slash line from 197/319/328 to 252/347/443.
- Sidekick - Javier Baez (.036). Javy was one of the few guys who didn’t have trouble at the plate last night, with two singles and a two-run home run that ignited the eighth inning rally. Javy’s transformation is even more striking. Since bottoming out April 10th at .176/.263/.176, he’s raised his line now to .264/.301/.496. That kind of production with elite defense is definitely an asset to this team.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - John Lackey (-.237). The line was ugly last night. A fly ball pitcher and the wind blowing out at 15 miles per hour is not a great combination. John continues to strike out a lot of hitters, but between those strike outs there is quite a bit of hard contact.
- Goat - Willson Contreras (-.162). Willson was the batter immediately following the single that put Jon Jay on the superhero podium. Willson hit a ball with an exit velocity of 99 MPH... right to Brandon Crawford for a 6-4-3 double play that took the wind out of the sails on the comeback. The resulting -.177 WPA was the single biggest WPA event of the evening, beating out two Joe Panik extra base hits.
- Kid - Kris Bryant (-.102). After being voted as the Player of the Week in yesterday’s poll here, Kris was hitless in four at bats. Most of the damage to his WPA came from his fly out in the eighth inning after five straight Cubs had reached base to start the inning.
Honorable mention to Ian Happ who looked like he would reach the hero podium with his pinch-hit triple in the eighth but WPA can be a bit fickle and when he struck out to end the game after Javy had reached base to bring the tying run to the plate, that dropped him out of the mix.
This was a frustrating one for sure, with plenty to talk about and nitpick while we wait for tonight’s game which should be a good one with Jon Lester taking on Johnny Cueto. I’ll have another column tomorrow to discuss that one.
Before we go, we’ll look at our year to date standings for Heroes and Goats. As a reminder, we award three points for Superhero, two for Hero, and one for Sidekick. And we deduct -3 points for Billy Goat, -2 for Goat and -1 for Kid. Here then are the standings.
Year to Date Standings (italics means player no longer in the organization):
- Anthony Rizzo 16
- Wade Davis 9
- Tommy La Stella 8
- Kyle Hendricks 7
- Jon Jay 7
- Kyle Schwarber 4
- Ian Happ 4
- Kris Bryant 3
- Eddie Butler 3
- Matt Szczur 2
- Miguel Montero 2
- Mike Montgomery 1
- Albert Almora 1
- Felix Pena 1
- Justin Grimm 1
- Ben Zobrist 1
- Hector Rondon 0
- Brian Duensing -1
- Carl Edwards -2
- Willson Contreras -3
- Jason Heyward -3
- Jon Lester -3
- Pierce Johnson -3
- Brett Anderson -5
- Jeimer Candelario -5
- Pedro Strop -5
- Jake Arrieta -5
- Koji Uehara -7
- Addison Russell -8
- John Lackey -9
- Javier Baez -11
With John Lackey taking multiple steps backwards and Javier Baez moving forward, Javy now has a chance to move out of the cellar over the next four days. Meanwhile on the positive side, Jon Jay now appears in the top five. Jon has found some ways to contribute to this team in limited action.
On to today’s poll. Yesterday’s poll selected the player of the week and with 58 percent of the vote, Kris Bryant was the player of the week. Today, we select the Marmol Goat of the Game (Carlos Marmol posted the lowest single game WPA in Cubs history).
Who was the Goat of the game for game 43?
This poll is closed
Other (Please specify in the comments below)