This feature has turned into an excuse for me to find an extra picture of Javier Baez every week or so. That’s because when we look at the Cumulative Standings, I use a picture of the player leading them and Javy has jumped out to such an early large lead that he’s in first place every time. What a welcome change that is after he bounced around at or near the bottom all of last year. WPA and Heroes and Goats have traditionally not been kind to Javy and I’ve been accused of being biased against him a few times as a result (as a reminder, there is nothing subjective about Heroes and Goats. I read the numbers and that’s all).
Today we’ll have our usual look at the standings to date for Heroes and Goats. I’ll also check in on the run differential and some hitting and pitching stats. Finally, we’ll take a look at today’s pitching matchup.
As a reminder, Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA. The highest WPA will be the Superhero. A superhero is worth +3 points in the cumulative standings. Second place is the Hero and that is worth +2 points and third place is the Sidekick and that is worth +1 points. On the other side of the ledger, last place is the Billy Goat and that’s worth -3 points. Second and third to last are the Goat and the Kid which are worth -2 and -1 points respectively.
* = Player currently in the minors (change since last full standings)
- Javier Baez 15 (2)
- Kyle Hendricks 8 (3)
- Pedro Strop 8 (3)
- Kyle Schwarber 6
- Steve Cishek 6 (1)
- Tommy La Stella 6 (3)
- Tyler Chatwood 5 (-1)
- Brian Duensing 5 (2)
- Kris Bryant 5 (5)
- Brandon Morrow 4 (-1)
- Efren Navarro * 2
- Carl Edwards Jr. 2
- Ben Zobrist 1 (-4)
- Mike Montgomery 1 (3)
- Justin Wilson 0
- David Bote 0
- Ian Happ -.5
- Cory Mazzoni * -1 (-1)
- Luke Farrell * -3 (-5)
- Eddie Butler -3
- Jon Lester -3
- Jen-Ho Tseng * -3 (-3)
- Albert Almora Jr. -4
- Jason Heyward -6 (2)
- Yu Darvish -9
- Anthony Rizzo -11.5
- Willson Contreras -12 (-6)
- Addison Russell -17 (-4)
Javy continues to lead and Pedro Strop and Kyle Hendricks check into second, seven points behind. Three players follow with six and three more with five, so the top ten continues to be very dynamic with players jostling for position. At the bottom, Addison Russell has fallen to a five point gap from second to last. Hard to see three every day players in the bottom three spots. All of them have been swinging the bat better, I expect at least a couple of them to escape before we get our next look at this 11 games in 10 days from now.
Kris Bryant had the biggest positive stretch at +5 to get him back up where he’d been most of the early season. He appears to have returned to the dominant form he was showing in the early season after shaking off the effects of being hit in the head. Willson Contreras had the biggest negative week (-6). He passed Luke Farrell for that dubious distinction on the last day and in a game where Willson had two triples and a double. There are definitely days when Heroes and Goats just seems mean.
National League Standings and Run Differential:
The Cubs have “fallen” from third to fourth place in the time between updates. They are 1.5 games out of first place. The National League currently has 11 teams at .500 or better including four each in the East and Central. Amazingly, with 11 teams being at .500 or better, none of those 11 teams are pre-season favorites for many people, the Los Angeles Dodgers who are being ravaged by injuries.
The Cubs have increased their run differential to +43. That is the second-best mark in the National League behind the Atlanta Braves who the Cubs will face four times next week. Yes, the Cubs padded those numbers a fair bit in the last couple of days by pounding the Marlins. But the Cubs will make no apologies for that. The Marlins have lost 24 games, the Cubs are far from the only team to have taken advantage of the team with the worst differential in the entire Major Leagues.
Overall, the Cubs run differential checks in at fifth (Astros, Yankees, Red Sox, Braves). I never remember when Expected Wins and losses clicks in as a meaningful number, but it shows the Cubs in front of the National League Central at 22-12. In fact, not surprisingly, the Cubs and Braves would have the best records in the National League.
Hitting and Pitching Statistics:
The Cubs beefed their hitting statistics back up over the last few days. They are back up to fourth in MLB and second in the NL in runs per game at 5.24 (Yankees, Red Sox, Braves). The batting average has climbed to .254 (3rd NL), on base to .327 (4th NL), slugging to .427 (2nd NL) for an OPS of .754 (2nd NL).
On the other side of the ledger, the pitchers have allowed 3.97 runs per game. That ties them for sixth best. Their WHIP has improved to 1.304 that’s still ninth in the league. The culprit remains walks as the team allows the second most walks per nine innings at 4.2. The Cubs allowed the third fewest hits per nine at 7.5. I remain surprised that the Cubs are below average in strike outs at 8.4 per nine, good for ninth in the league. There is still a fair bit of improvement in these numbers available for the pitchers as there has not been a lot of consistency in the starting rotation.
Up Next: The Cubs start a three-game set with the White Sox at Wrigley Field. As I noted above, this starts a stretch of 11 games in 10 days necessitated by two rescheduled games from April rainouts. A lot of those games are against subpar opposition, so this will be about the Cubs trying to stay as fresh as possible and take advantage of the favorable schedule.
The White Sox come in at 9-25, having lost five in a row and nine of 10 (and 15 of 20). Carson Fulmer will start for the Sox today. He’s 2-2 with a 5.02 ERA in six starts this season. He’s never started a game against the Cubs. Last time out, he threw 3.2 innings against the Twins and allowed seven hits, two walks, five runs (four earned) while striking out six. Oh, and four home runs. Four home runs in 3.2 innings. On the season he’s allowed seven of them in 28.2 innings. He does have one really great start against the Royals. So he’s not incapable of that. He’s right handed but get knocked around quite a bit by right handed hitters. Good day for an Almora start. Not the best day for the Cubs switch hitters. But then, it’s not like Fullmer is good against left handed hitters, he just stops treating everyone like an All-Star (.918 OPS v RHH and .826 v LHH).
Tyler Chatwood is the Cubs starter. He is 2-3 with a 3.31 ERA on the year. You know the drill, his issue is walks. He’s a large reason for the Cubs poor standing in walks as he’s allowed 27 of them in 32.2 innings. Last time out he faced the Cardinals and threw four innings allowing three hits, five walks, four runs (three earned) and struck out five. The time before that he was very good and the one before that pretty good. The Cardinals have not been kind to him so far this year. So let’s hope he bounces back. This one looks like it could be a high scoring affair. Maybe it’ll be something like a 9-5 Cubs win. We’d all take that I think.