That’s certainly an unusual face up top. Addison Russell has spent almost the entire season in one of the last two spots in the cumulative standings for Heroes and Goats. His biggest contributions are generally defensively and so that isn’t rewarded by WPA and by extension, Heroes and Goats. This was his first Superhero award since May 15. When the full standings come out in a few days, he’ll still be in last place, possibly by a very large margin. But it certainly seems to be me like Addison has been on a bit of a roll. Certainly the last two games with a home run and eight RBI doesn’t hurt.
Since the game on April 26, Addison has played in 51 games, starting 43 of them. He’s amassed 189 plate appearances in that time. His line? .315/.378/.464. He had five home runs, a triple, 23 RBI and 27 runs in that time. He’s even stole two bases. To be sure, the .400 BABIP over that stretch isn’t sustainable, but at least some of that BABIP luck is because of good, hard, quality contact and reflects a hot streak. Addison continues to be one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. Even just looking at the full season line, Addison is at a .282/.354/.407 line (.350 BABIP) over 272 PA. You can always count on Cubs twitter for a super hot take, but I was amused to find someone calling Russell trash yesterday. The guy doubled down by including Russell directly on his tweet.
In the last two games, the Cubs have scored 11 and 10 runs. The games were started by Clayton Kershaw and Jose Berrios, their e best pitchers the Dodgers and Twins have to offer. The Cubs have also won two games started by Ross Stripling who still sports a 1.98 ERA. They’ve won a start by Jacob deGrom. A start by Aaron Nola. These are all guys who will be considered seriously for the All-Star game. Even after a couple of tough weeks, the Cubs are second in the National League in runs scored per game, just .01 per game behind the Braves. If the Cubs can win today, they’ll close the month at 16-12. That pace would be a 93 win pace. I may have mentioned recently that everything was going to be all right.
With that, we turn our attention to yesterday’s game as we look at what WPA had to say about Heroes and Goats. As always the Heroes and Goats 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 80, June 29 - Cubs slug their way out of early deficit to win 10-6 (45-35)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Addison Russell (.371). Addison had only one hit in four at bats. He also had a fifth plate appearance in which he drew a walk. But the one hit was a grand slam.
- Hero - Ben Zobrist (.169). Ben also had just one hit on the day in three official at bats. It was a two-run home-run. He also had a walk and a hit by pitch. Ben was trashed pretty heavily in Cubs nation last year while he battled injuries. This year? .290/.385/.433 (wRC+ of 125 and and fWAR of 2.1). He also strikes out in just 13.1% of his at bats, so he avoids the strike out like people are often asking of Cubs players.
- Sidekick - Jason Heyward (.143). I’m starting to forget the guys who bemoaned every single day what trash Jason Heyward was. He had another two hits yesterday in four at bats. Included was a two-run home-run of his own that got the Cubs in the scoring column. He drove in two and scored three. He strikes out in just 11.4% of his plate appearances on the season. His full season line is now up to .281/.341/.434. He appears to be the player the Cubs signed and dreamed about.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Mike Montgomery (-.295). I honestly feel that this line isn’t as bad as it looks. He lasted just five innings, allowed seven hits, three walks and five runs (three earned). But for an error of his own, it would have probably been only two runs. But for Joe Mauer, it would have been an even better day.
- Goat - Chris Gimenez (-.093). Chris actually had a hit in this one, but his 2018 season has been a mess at the plate. He grounded into a key double play in this one while the game was still tense.
- Kid - Tommy La Stella (-.082). Tommy’s April and May were among the best performances anyone could ever hope for out of a pinch hitter. He’s been flat out terrible in June. Hopefully when the calendar turns to June he’ll get back in gear. He’s a powerful weapon when he’s hitting.
WPA Play of the Game: No doubt about this one. After Berrios retired the first Cub hitter in the fifth inning, Jason Heyward started things off with a single. Ben Zobrist was then hit by a pitch. Anthony Rizzo found a hole for a single. Addison Russell followed with a grand slam. (.364). The Cubs offense was 4 for 11 with runners in scoring position by my count. There is positive regression on the way and it should be delightful to watch.
*Twins Play of the Game: Joe Mauer batted with runners on first and third and two outs in the second inning. He hit a three-run home-run to give the Twins an early 3-0 lead. (.252).
- Superhero - Javier Baez 13.5
- Hero - Jon Lester and Pedro Strop 13
Up Next: Game two of a three game set. Tyler Chatwood returns to the hill after missing a start due to the birth of his first child. He is 3-5 on the year with a 3.95 ERA. Over his last seven, it is pretty ugly. He’s 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA. He’s also allowed almost a hit per inning (29 in 30.2) and more than a walk per inning at 31. It’s frankly amazing that he’s only got a 4.70 ERA with those numbers. Last time out, he faced the Dodgers at Wrigley on June 19. He lasted five innings and allowed two hits, five walks and one run. I have to believe the Cubs would be ecstatic with those results at this point. He did face the Twins last year and took a loss. He threw five innings, allowed five hits, five walks and two runs. Again, I think the Cubs would take that line.
Adalberto Mejia will be the Twins starter. He will be making his first MLB start of the season. He is a left handed pitcher. For his MLB career, he has a 4-7 record with a 4.57 ERA. He got 21 starts last year in the majors. He’s been working at Rochester, where the Twins have their Triple-A team. He’s 4-2 with a 2.74 ERA on the season. He’s only thrown 49.1 innings over 11 appearances (nine starts), so I wouldn’t expect him to get particularly deep in the game. But he’s kept the ball in the park (two home runs). The Cubs occasionally struggle against guys they’ve never seen before. I’m sure the Twins will hope they can get four or five innings out of him with the game relatively close and then get into their pen.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Albert Almora Jr.