There was some time towards the end of that stretch of games where I thought that Javier Baez might finally abdicate his throne as the reigning Super Hero of the 2018 Cubs. But, here we are now more than a quarter of the way into the year and he’s still leading. A cold stretch has let things get bunched up near the top, but he continues to lead. Several cornerstone Cubs continue to reside near the bottom of the list. Regardless of how reflective WPA and Heroes and Goats are of actual performance, I still think Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras are going to need to move much closer to the top of this list before the Cubs really take off. Alternatively, I recall fondly that in 2016 the Cubs placed five starting pitchers in the top six.
After looking at the year-to-date standings, we’ll also take a look at how run differential is stacking up in the National League where 11 teams are at or above .500 a quarter of the way into the year. We’ll also looking hitting and pitching statistics and where the Cubs are stacking up. Finally, we’ll look at the matchup for tonight’s game.
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.
Year to Date total (change since last full standings)
* = Player currently in the minors
- Javier Baez 10 (-5)
- Pedro Strop 9 (1)
- Steve Cishek 8 (2)
- Tommy La Stella 8 (2)
- Tyler Chatwood 8 (3)
- Kris Bryant 7 (2)
- Ian Happ 5.5 (6)
- Brandon Morrow 5 (1)
- Kyle Hendricks 4 (-4)
- Kyle Schwarber 6 (0)
- Brian Duensing 4 (-1)
- Ben Zobrist 3 (2)
- *Efren Navarro 2 (-)
- Jon Lester 2 (5)
- Jose Quintana 0 (0)
- *David Bote 0 (0)
- *Cory Mazzoni -1 (-)
- Mike Montgomery -2 (-3)
- Justin Wilson -3 (-3)
- *Luke Farrell -3 (-)
- Eddie Butler -3 (-)
- Jen-Ho Tseng -3 (-)
- Victor Caratini -4 (-2)
- Albert Almora Jr. -4 (0)
- Carl Edwards Jr. -5 (-7)
- Yu Darvish -6 (3)
- Anthony Rizzo -8.5 (3)
- Jason Heyward -11 (-5)
- Addison Russell -14 (3)
- Willson Contreras -15 (-3)
Ian Happ had the biggest move in the positive direction with a +6 stretch. His last four appearances have all been on the positive side of the ledger and two of them were Super Hero spots. Jon Lester was just a notch behind him at +5 over two starts. On the negative side, Carl Edwards had a brutal stretch of games with three straight rough outings in there. He had the dubious distinction of Billy Goat appearances in back to back games. Jason Heyward came off of the DL and two negative appearances totaling -5 in Cubs blow outs dropped him into the bottom three. Kyle Hendricks with two negative starts registered a -4.
For the season, Javier Baez remains the only Cub to reach the +10 mark and he spent two days below that this past week. With five other players within one big game away from that mark, I predict when I next look at the standings we’ll have other people in that group. On the negative side of the ledger, Willson Contreras has fallen into last place. I also predict that will change before we look at this again. There are three people in the -10 group as this list has become more than a little bottom heavy. But Anthony Rizzo escaped the group and Yu Darvish moved off of the doorstep, so maybe the list will pivot some. We’ll next look at the standings after the day off on June 4.
National League Standings and Run Differential:
The three largest run differentials belong to American League teams (Astros +98, Yankees +81, and Red Sox +75). Those will be three of the five playoff teams in the American League where only six teams currently boast winning records. Four of those teams are in the American League West which should eventually cannibalize itself I suspect. Someone has to win the American League Central, currently being led by the Indians who I suspect will eventually right their ship and run away and hide with that putrid division.
But this section is about the National League. A stretch of games against lesser competition now has the Cubs with the top run differential in the National League at +72. The Braves are second at +62 and then there is a good gap back to three teams in the 30’s (Phillies +38, Nationals +34, Cardinals +33). The Braves continue to have the best record in the National League. The Brewers are a notch behind them, but only have a +17 differential to this point. The Nationals appear to have found their groove a little until they were swept in a three-game series by the Dodgers. For the Dodgers, it was their first sign of life in quite some time. The Diamondbacks have faded and are now a half game behind the Rockies in the West. The Cubs are tied for third, two games back in the Central.
If you believe in expected wins and losses based off of run differential, the Cubs would be 30-14 and have a four and a half game lead on the Cardinals. It’s probably a little early to place a lot of stock in that number, but I still suspect the Cubs will eventually win this division comfortably. The Brewers are 11-5 in one run games. It does occasionally happen that a team maintains that kind of close game dominance, but more times than not those things even out over the season.
Hitting and Pitching Statistics:
The Cubs have the highest runs per game in the National League at 5.39. The Yankees are the only team in baseball higher than that at 5.87. The Cubs batting average of .259 is fourth in the NL, their on base percentage is .341 and that leads the league (2nd in MLB - Yankees .343), and their slugging percentage is .432 which also leads the league (3rd in MLB - Yankees .469, Red Sox .465). The Cubs added .005/.014/.005 to their team batting line over the last 10 games.
On the other side of the ball, they are fourth in the NL with a team runs per game of 3.75. Their WHIP is 1.271 (7th), driven by 4.3 walks per nine innings (worst in the NL). Conversely, they allow the least hits at 7.1 per nine innings. Their runs per game dropped by .24 in this stretch. Their WHIP dropped .033. Their walks per nine increased by .1 and their hits per nine dropped by .4. Progress.
Up Next: The Cubs start a two-game series with the American League Central leading Cleveland Indians. The Indians just lost two of three to the Astros and have dropped four of six over all, all on the road. The Cubs meanwhile won four of six on a road trip.
Tyler Chatwood will be the Cubs starter. He’s 3-3 with a 3.14 ERA on the season. He’s one of the main culprits on that walk rate for the Cubs with 34 walks in 43 innings of work. However, the last time out he threw 5⅓ innings against the Braves and only walked two. He allowed four hits and one run. Of course with his walks down, so were his strike outs. He faced the Indians in the two game series in Cleveland last month and notched the win. He threw six innings allowing four hits, five walks and one run while striking out five.
Trevor Bauer is the opposition. He is also 3-3 but he has a 2.59 ERA. He is coming off of eight shut out innings in Detroit in which he allowed four hits, no walks and struck out 10. He beat the Cubs in the other game back in April when he threw 6⅔ innings of four-hit, three-walk, one run-baseball. He struck out eight. This is one tough matchup.
Who will be the top performer in Heroes and Goats from now until June 4?
This poll is closed
Other (make your suggestion in the comments)