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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 111

Baez energizes offense; Arrieta another strong performance; Cubs win 5-3.

Chicago Cubs v San Francisco Giants
Baez just misses hitting one out of the park but ends up with inside the park home run.
Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

If you regularly follow this column, then you know that Javier Baez and WPA aren’t close friends. Despite constantly amazing us with things he does on the field, those same things often don’t show up in ways that WPA recognizes. Hopefully it won’t be too spoilery to tell you that Javy showed up on the Hero side of the ledger last night. That is his fourth consecutive positive podium appearance. Interestingly, that has all come since he took over the starting shortstop position following Addison Russell’s injury.

Javier Baez has always been a streaky hitter and I imagine his resurgence in the Heroes and Goats column is coincidental to him being a starter. Dating back to August 1st, the last game he played prior to Russell’s injury, Javy has a six game hitting streak over which he has hit .333/.417/.857 (with only a .333 BABIP). Amusingly, I looked to see if there was maybe something comfortable for Javier being back at his natural position, but that isn’t the case. in 34 games at SS, Javy has hit .222/.250/.398. So we’ll go with the first explanation. Javy was entering a hot streak at the time Russell got injured. Good timing for the Cubs.

The Cubs won last night, moving them to 3-4 over this 12-game stretch that figured to be the last really tough block of games. Realistically, you hoped for six wins in that stretch and so they need to win three of the last five to get there. They have a favorable matchup tonight, a less favorable one tomorrow and then they miss Zack Greinke (who they of course scored six runs off of last week) over the weekend. Though they very well might see Zack Godley who shut them down last week.

On that note, we’ll get to the heart of this column and look at the Heroes and Goats as determined by WPA. 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 Monday, August 7th:

Source: FanGraphs
  • Superhero - Javier Baez (.176). A very Javy kind of day. He only had one hit and struck out twice. But the hit was a showcase for Javy’s flat-out hustle. When his long fly ball struck off the top of the outfield wall, Javy sent it into high gear. When the ball bounced away, he kept on running. Gary Jones waved him around and despite a great throw to the plate, he beat the tag at home for an inside the park home run.
  • Hero - Jon Jay (.098). Jon hasn’t excelled as a leadoff hitter this year, with only a .627 OPS when batting out of that slot (vs. a season OPS of .776). What he has been excellent at is hitting left handed pitchers (.333/.426/.373). That is a peculiar stat line for a left handed hitter, but the Cubs have been using him increasingly in general, but also against lefties. It worked out last night with singles leading off the third and fifth inning. He scored following both.
  • Sidekick - Pedro Strop (.082). Partially due to an unusual error by Jason Heyward, Jake Arrieta was not able to finish the seventh inning. Pedro came in with a man on first, meaning that the tying run was at the plate and one of the two hitters he would face was Buster Posey. He retired both hitters to get out of the inning. Middle relievers don’t get a lot of high-leverage situations and don’t show up in this column a lot, but Pedro hasn’t appeared on the Goat side of the ledger since June 16. I suspect with the struggles of Carl Edwards Jr. that Pedro along with Brian Duensing could see a few higher leverage situations.


  • Billy Goat - Willson Contreras (-.122). One day after reaching first place in the season long Heroes and Goats standing and on the same day he was named National League player of the week, Willson went hitless in five tries. When the team has 12 hits, that’s almost certainly going to land you down here.
  • Goat - Ben Zobrist (-.085). Ben did draw a walk, but was hitless in his other four at bats. The complexion of the Cubs lineup changes when there is a productive Zobrist, but that simply hasn’t been the case this year. Hopefully down the stretch he can pick things up.
  • Kid - Tommy La Stella (.012). This is not a kind welcome back. Tommy pinch hit and drew a walk in the eighth inning with runners on first and second. But on a night where the Cubs led wire to wire, you can get a positive goat. Tough break. But I’m sure Tommy was just glad to be back playing with the major league team for the first time in quite some time.

With that, let’s take a look at the 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 three points for Billy Goat, two for Goat and one for Kid. Here then are the standings.

Cumulative Standings (Italics indicates no longer with the organization):

  • Anthony Rizzo 31
  • Willson Contreras 30
  • Wade Davis 13
  • Kris Bryant 12
  • Jon Jay 8
  • Mike Montgomery 5
  • Miguel Montero 5
  • Justin Grimm 5
  • Kyle Hendricks 5
  • Tommy La Stella 4
  • Jose Quintana 4
  • Kyle Schwarber 3
  • Brian Duensing 3
  • Pedro Strop 3
  • Felix Pena 2
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Alex Avila 2
  • Eddie Butler 1
  • Jake Arrieta 0
  • Mark Zagunis 0
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Jack Leathersich -1
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Hector Rondon -3
  • Albert Almora Jr. -3
  • Victor Caratini -4
  • Ian Happ -5
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -8
  • Jon Lester -8
  • Jason Heyward -10
  • Koji Uehara -11
  • Addison Russell -15
  • Ben Zobrist -16
  • John Lackey -18
  • Javier Baez -21

Two battles shaping up. Anthony Rizzo slides into the top spot as Willson drops down following his rough night at the plate. But I suspect that battle is far from over. Javier Baez has taken a large stride towards catching John Lackey and Ben Zobrist is sliding backwards. We could soon see reordering of things at both the top and bottom of this list.

As noted, the Cubs are back in action tonight in San Francisco against the Giants. Jose Quintana will take the ball for the Cubs looking to bounce back from his last start when he allowed six runs including three home runs. Jose hasn’t faced the Giants since 2014. That was one of the World Champion Giants teams and they tagged him for four runs in six and two thirds that day. Obviously, this year’s Giants team bears little resemblance to that team.

Ty Blach takes the ball for the Giants. He threw eight innings of two-run ball in his last outing against the A’s. He has thrown seven or more innings in four straight starts and six innings or more in six straight starts. He did face the Cubs back in May at Wrigley and he picked up a win with seven innings of three run ball. I’d expect this to be a low scoring game, but I favor the Cubs on this one because of just how depleted the Giants offense is. Also, the Cubs perform significantly better against left handed pitching.

As always, we finish with a poll. Yesterday, unsurprisingly, 88 percent of you voted Carl Edwards as the Goat of the week for last week. Given his nightmarish stretch, that was a safe bet. Last night’s Cubs game might not produce such lopsided voting, but we’ll see.


Who was the Hero of last night’s Cubs Win?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Javier Baez
    (71 votes)
  • 4%
    Jon Jay
    (6 votes)
  • 2%
    Pedro Strop
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Wade Davis
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Brian Duensing
    (2 votes)
  • 36%
    Jake Arrieta
    (48 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (please leave your choice in the comments below)
    (0 votes)
131 votes total Vote Now