Last Friday, I recapped the first game of the four game series with the Marlins. That was a fun one, as the Cubs had won 11-1. This weekend was a bit less fun as the Cubs dropped two out of three. This probably shouldn’t be surprising. After the June 10 game, the Cubs had lost four straight games (including one to these same Marlins). For the next six games, the Cubs would win a game and then lose a game. Each time they won, they moved back to .500. The Cubs broke the pattern with a three game winning streak. The game they won in the middle to break the pattern was a game they were trailing 2-1 in the seventh when they scored twice and held on to win against the lowly San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field.
If the Cubs were to continue that pace, they’d split the series that starts tonight against the Nationals and take two out of three from the Cincinnati Reds to finish a 6-5 road trip. I won’t speak for you, but I’d take it. I might be naive, but I have resigned myself to if this team can hang around a game or two out of first place until the All-Star break, that this team will get healthy and is more experienced than the Brewers and should be able to still win this division. You’d always rather be the juggernaut, win the division going away and have home field advantage in the playoffs. But, just getting into the post season and having enough firepower to compete could be enough.
At that, we’ll get to looking at the three games over the weekend and see what WPA had to say about Heroes and Goats. 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 Friday, June 23:
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Kris Bryant (.091). Kris Bryant got the Bryce Harper treatment as the Marlins wanted nothing to do with him and walked him three times in four trips to the plate. Kris now leads the major leagues in walks with 52.
- Hero - John Lackey (.038). He did allow the obligatory Giancarlo Stanton home run, but otherwise only allowed three hits, two walks and one other run which was unearned over six innings.
- Sidekick - Justin Grimm (.033). Faced five batters and retired them all. 11 outings now May 29th to present, totaling 12.2 innings of work, 18 strike outs, three hits and two walks. Holding opposing hitters to a .073/.116/.146 line over that time.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Albert Almora Jr. (-.152). Did have a hit in the game, but grounded into double plays in the sixth and ninth innings in a tight ball game.
- Goat - Addison Russell (-.144). Hitless in four tries, including two strike outs. The strike out in the fifth with runners on first and third in a one run game accounted for -.070.
- Kid - Ian Happ (-.114). You don’t see a ton of guys on the goats podium after a two for four night in a low scoring game. He is here almost entirely because of his ground ball double play in the eighth batting with no outs and a man at first.
Believe it or not, the Cubs are (only?) ninth in the major leagues at grounding into double plays.
Game Chart Saturday, June 24:
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Javier Baez (.194). Javy had a fantastic game, getting an RBI single in the fourth to cut the Marlins lead to 3-2 and then had a two run double in the sixth to give the Cubs a 5-3 win. No playing with sampling, his line on the year (222 PA) is .260/.298/.471. Good for an OPS+ of 98. Very good for someone known for playing plus defense, often at multiple positions.
- Hero - Ian Happ (.169). Ian had a two out RBI single in the first, a sacrifice bunt (which is negative WPA), and singled and scored in the sixth. He is leading the team in on base plus slugging at the moment and in the month of June (83 PA) he has a .297/.358/.689. I would imagine he has a very good chance at rookie of the month and if this continues he will be in talks for Rookie of the Year.
- Sidekick - Wade Davis (.088). Wade worked a 1-2-3 inning including strikeouts of Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich with a two run lead. Wade has been fantastic in the closer role for the Cubs.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Kris Bryant (-.116). From the penthouse one day to the outhouse the next. Kris did have a double in the seventh, but had already struck out in the first with a man on and then grounded into a double play in the third to make the first two outs of the inning while the Cubs were losing 3-1 (-.082 WPA).
- Goat - Mark Zagunis (.054). When Mark dreamed about his major league debut, he probably had a breakout weekend in mind. Instead, he gets two trips to the goat podium in his first two games. This one after an 0-3 game (with a walk). The big contribution here was his strike out with the go ahead run on second and one out in the fourth (-.042 WPA). He doesn’t take the negative credit for being doubled off on Jon Lester’s line drive.
- Kid - Anthony Rizzo (-.005). Great for the team that only four players posted negative scores and one of those was dropped due to pitcher’s hitting. That leaves Anthony Rizzo as the only other negative player. Anthony lined out in his only at bat in the ninth inning and ended up here as a result.
Game Chart Sunday, June 25:
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Miguel Montero (.147). Walked leading off the second, singled in the fifth, and singled in the seventh. Here for table setting, but didn’t score or drive in any runs for his efforts. Miguel has been pretty good at the plate this year with a .292/.373/.448 line good for an OPS+ of 116. There is still some life in that bat.
- Hero - Willson Contreras (.088). Came in after the Russell injury and played some right field. Drew two walks, including the fifth inning when he walked, stole second, moved to third on a Montero single and scored on a La Stella sacrifice fly. From May 9 to the present, he’s hit .278/.341/.487 (129 PA). That’s the kind of production many of us expected out of him this year.
- Sidekick - Mark Zagunis (.044). After being a goat in the first two games of his career, he finds his way to the hero side, making three podium appearances in his first three major league games. This time, he is here for drawing a one out walk in the eighth inning. Walks are going to be a calling card of his if he is going to stick in the majors.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Tommy La Stella (-.169). As noted above, actually drove in one of the two runs on the day. Also had a single leading off the fourth inning and ended up scoring. But Tommy is here because he grounded into a double play with one out in the seventh inning with runners on first and second after the Cubs last hit of the day (-.170 WPA).
- Goat - Ian Happ (-.155). Ian did have a hit to increase his current hitting streak to six games for the first time in his young career. Ian is here for his caught stealing following his single in the seventh (-.114 WPA), which does lead to wondering what might have been as the following two batter walked and singled in a game that was only 3-2 at that time.
- Kid - Anthony Rizzo (-.134). The last three podium appearances for Anthony have all been on the goat side. He did drive in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth, but that was actually a -.029 WPA owing to the fact that it came with the bases loaded and only one out in a 3-1 game. He also flew out in the second with the bases loaded (-.069) and flew out in the eighth with a man on first to end the inning (-.034).
Let’s 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 33
- Kyle Schwarber 10
- Mike Montgomery 10
- Wade Davis 10
- Willson Contreras 9
- Kris Bryant 7
- Miguel Montero 6
- Justin Grimm 5
- Kyle Hendricks 4
- Ian Happ 3
- Jon Jay 3
- Felix Pena 3
- Tommy La Stella 2
- Matt Szczur 2
- Brian Duensing 0
- Eddie Butler -1
- Carl Edwards -1
- Seth Frankoff -1
- Hector Rondon -2
- Mark Zagunis -3
- Pierce Johnson -3
- Pedro Strop -3
- Albert Almora -4
- Jason Heyward -4
- Brett Anderson -5
- Jeimer Candelario -5
- Addison Russell -6
- Ben Zobrist -8
- Koji Uehara -9
- Jake Arrieta -9
- Jon Lester -10
- John Lackey -12
- Javier Baez -22
As always, we end with a poll. On Friday, 58 percent of the votes went to Jake Arrieta, making him the Hero of the game for game 72. Today, we’ll vote for Player of the Week.
Who was the Chicago Cubs Player of the Week?
This poll is closed
Ian Happ (.407/.429/.704 with two homers and six RBI)
Javier Baez (.409/.458/.545)
Addison Russell (.348/.348/.609)
Jake Arrieta (seven innings with one run allowed, plus two hits an RBI and run scored)
Mike Montgomery (twelve innings pitched, no earned runs allowed, seven hits, four walks, 10 strike outs)
Wade Davis (three scoreless appearances and two saves)
Other (please leave your choice in the comments below)