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2018 Cubs Stock Market Report: Opening weekend

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Who’s hot and who’s not for the Cubs after the first four games.

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago Cubs at Seattle Mariners Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

EDITOR’S NOTE: Alex Van Zante will be doing this “Weekly Stock Market Report” after each week’s worth of play this year. Obviously, we have just four games representing the first “week,” but it’s enough to post this report. This feature will highlight the best performers of the week, the worst performers of the week, and some of those that fall in between. Think of it as sort of a Who’s Hot/Who’s Not.

I would like to preface BCB’s first Stock Market Report by telling you that I got the idea for this series from Ted Glover at Daily Norseman, SB Nation’s Minnesota Vikings site. It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and while I am not nearly the caliber of writer as Ted is, I hope this weekly series will be a welcomed addition to BCB. So cheers to Ted and the Daily Norseman.

So, without further ado, your first Cubs Stock Market Report.

Must-Buy Stocks:

Kris Bryant: Bryant opened the season going 7-for-18 with a .389/.522/.722 slash line. That included a home run, four runs batted in, and four walks, good for a 226 wRC+. Bryant also had a bases-clearing, two-out double in the top of the 10th in Saturday’s 10-6 win to put the game out of reach. KB looks to be in midseason form, and is certainly a strong candidate for NL MVP this year.

Kyle Schwarber, The Hitter: Schwarber launched two mammoth home runs during the series, going 5-for-15 with a .333/.375/.867 slash, culminating in a .533 ISO over the four-game set. Four of Schwarber’s five hits were for extra bases, an early sign that Schwarber hasn’t lost any of that heralded power after his offseason body transformation.

Eddie Butler: After being the 25th man to make the roster out of spring, Butler showed everyone exactly why it’s so valuable to have a long man in your bullpen. Butler pitched seven innings, lasting longer than starter Kyle Hendricks did. Butler ultimately took the loss, but it was Butler’s longest outing of his Major League career, and it was good for 0.3 fWAR. Butler may have just bought himself a couple more months on the roster just by this outing alone.

The Cubs Bullpen: After lackluster performances from every starter not named Kyle Hendricks, the bullpen looked stellar. Over 24 innings, the pen only gave up two runs, good for a 0.75 ERA. It’s only four games against a mostly Quad-A team in the Marlins, but the bullpen looks to be much improved.

Trending Up:

Ben Zobrist: Zobrist made the most of his two opportunities to start, going 4-for-11 with two walks, one RBI, and he missed a home run by just a couple inches. After an injury plagued 2017, Zo could be a key component to what is supposed to be one of the best lineups in baseball this year.

Kyle Hendricks: All he does it get guys out. Pumping 88 mile per hour fastballs, Hendricks looked like vintage Cyle, giving up four hits and one run over six innings. A day removed from a taxed bullpen after Jon Lester’s poor outing, Hendricks delivered a solid outing to give the bullpen some rest. (Or so we thought!)

Anthony Rizzo: Rizzo only went 3-for-20 on the series, but after hitting a home run on Opening Day just 45 minutes down the road from where he’s been an integral part of the healing process for Parkland, that’s good enough for me. Rizzo also added a key two-out hit that plated three runs in Saturday’s game.

Steve Cishek: After coming into a one-out situation with runners on the corner in a tie game, Cishek proceeded to strikeout Starlin Castro and got Justin Bour to fly out, getting out of the inning unscathed. Cishek also added a scoreless inning in the bottom of the 5th, earning his first win as a Cub in the process.

Penny Stocks:

Ian Happ: After starting out the 2018 season with a bang, Happ proceeded to go 0-for-12 with eight strikeouts. He leaves Miami with a .077/.143/.308 line.

Kyle Schwarber, The Fielder: There were hopes that Schwarber’s new physique would lend itself to a slightly increased ability to field, but the early returns aren’t promising. After failing to catch a fly ball on the warning track (which was admittedly a tough play), Schwarber followed it up a few batters later by committing an error by over pursuing a line drive that turned a single into a triple. Schwarber still doesn’t look the part in left, but the season is still young.

Yu Darvish, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana: The trio of starters combined for 18 hits, seven walks, and 14 earned runs over 13.2 innings, good for a 9.22 ERA. It was a major letdown from the three starters, look for them to rebound in the coming week.

Buy/Sell:

Buy: Examining super small samples sizes is fun. Like Kyle Schwarber being on pace to hit 81 home runs, Kris Bryant being on track to set the single season OBP record, and Ian Happ set to strikeout over 400 times this season.

Sell: Super small sample sizes are meaningful. It was only four games people, R-E-L-A-X. Yu Darvish, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana all had poor outings, and Ian Happ struck out way too much, but it was just one series. Plenty of time for the poor performers to rebound. But Schwarber actually might hit 80 home runs this season. (Probably not, but we can dream!)

Buy: Ian Happ can be an effective leadoff hitter. Happ’s combination of power and speed will be an effective tool at the leadoff position, and it will bring flashbacks of Dexter Fowler.

Sell: Ian Happ is the best leadoff hitter on this team. I’m in the camp that still believes Kyle Schwarber can be an incredibly effective leadoff hitter, but his bat may be best suited in the five hole behind Willson Contreras. Happ strikes out too much for me, but he’ll continue to get the nod in the leadoff spot after his blistering spring, and rightfully so. But look for Joe Maddon to experiment with the leadoff spot in the next couple weeks if Happ continues to struggle.

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of the Week for 2018’s first week?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Kris Bryant
    (172 votes)
  • 17%
    Eddie Butler
    (70 votes)
  • 2%
    Kyle Hendricks
    (11 votes)
  • 2%
    Kyle Schwarber
    (9 votes)
  • 32%
    The entire bullpen
    (126 votes)
  • 0%
    Someone else (leave in comments)
    (1 vote)
389 votes total Vote Now