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2019 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Season recap

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A look at the final standings for Heroes and Goats and other WPA data.

Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

In 2014, Russ La Croix created Heroes and Goats. He ran this series for three seasons. I’ve now essentially matched that total, starting during the 2017 season. For those of you who have followed along for part or all of those six years, on behalf of Russ, Al Yellon and me, we’d like to thank you for reading. This is a quirky little series based around WPA. It is meant for fun. Due to some of the idiosyncrasies that go into WPA and the tabulation of Heroes and Goats, this isn’t some new highly predictive statistic. It isn’t even necessarily a really great stat that tells you who the best and worst players on the Cubs were for a given season or even several seasons. But, it can be fun and often interesting.

Despite the flaws and inexactness that H&G can produce, it is amazing how frequently certain players appear at or near the top (or conversely the bottom). For instance, Addison Russell has appeared in the bottom three three times in the six years of this piece (and recall that he hadn’t debuted yet in 2014 when this series started). Jason Heyward, a member of the Cubs for four seasons, has also appeared three times, including two last place finishes.

On the plus side, Jake Arrieta had back-to-back second place finishes in 2014 and 2015. Kyle Hendricks has duplicated that feat in 2016 and 2018. Kris Bryant has three top three finishes in his five seasons with the Cubs (despite roundly being considered “unclutch”).

Javier Baez, Willson Contreras and Pedro Strop have pulled off the feat of appearing in both a top three and a bottom three. Baez was third from the bottom in 2016 and 2017, before finishing third in 2018. Willson Contreras went the other way, being second in 2017 and then third to last in 2018. Both spent time near the top of the 2019 leader board before injuries curtailed their seasons. Strop matched Willson a year later by going from the top (first in 2018) to the bottom (second to last in 2019).

One can’t talk about Heroes and Goats, or consistency without talking about Anthony Rizzo though. Anthony has the record for highest score in a season (65.5 in 2015). He finished first in 2014 and 2015 before falling to third in 2016. He was first again in 2017. He missed the top three in 2018 for the first time (tied for fourth). In 2019, he wins the closest-ever finish with a 35 to 34.75 win over Bryant. The drama of that photo finish was ripped out of the season due to injuries to those two. Rizzo was the last one to tally any points when he finished in the Hero spot on September 19 in a 5-4 loss to the Cardinals. Those two points pushed him past Bryant and ultimately gave him the win.

I can confidently say that if this series continues long into the future, the season-long award for the top score in Heroes and Goats will be known as the Anthony Rizzo award. Congratulations to Anthony on another outstanding season!

With that, I bring you the final standings for Heroes and Goats for the 2019 season.

  • Anthony Rizzo 35
  • Kris Bryant 34.75
  • Kyle Schwarber 19.25
  • Ian Happ 19.17
  • Kyle Hendricks 13
  • Nicholas Castellanos 11
  • Javier Baez/Rowan Wick 9.5
  • Cole Hamels 7.5
  • Ben Zobrist 4.5
  • Alec Mills 4
  • Daniel Descalso 3.67
  • Tyler Chatwood 2.5 (3 PH)
  • Dillon Maples 2.5
  • Kyle Ryan 1.33
  • Jonathan Lucroy/Xavier Cedeno 1
  • David Bote/Randy Rosario 0.5
  • Brad Wieck/Tony Barnette/James Norwood 0
  • Taylor Davis/Brandon Kintzler -0.5
  • Willson Contreras -1
  • Mark Zagunis/Duane Underwood Jr. -1.75
  • Allen Webster -2
  • Adbert Alzolay/Carlos Gonzalez/Martin Maldonado/Nico Hoerner -3
  • Addison Russell -4
  • Tony Kemp -4.17
  • Yu Darvish/Robel Garcia -5
  • David Phelps -6
  • Derek Holland -6.25
  • Craig Kimbrel/Mike Montgomery -7
  • Brad Brach -7.5 (-1 PH)
  • Steve Cishek -8.17
  • Jon Lester -9
  • Victor Caratini -11.33
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -12
  • Albert Almora Jr./Jose Quintana -15.5
  • Pedro Strop -19.5
  • Jason Heyward -20

In all 49 different players appeared in at least one Heroes and Goats. That is the record during my time running this piece. 52 Cubs appeared in a game for the team this year. Tim Collins, Danny Hultzen, and Jim Adduci each played for the Cubs but failed to appear in this series.

Top 10 WPA Game Scores:

  1. Tyler Chatwood .615 May 11
  2. Ben Zobrist .550 April 28
  3. Jason Heyward .536 September 10
  4. Kris Bryant .512 August 21
  5. David Bote .511 June 5
  6. Kyle Hendricks .500 May 29
  7. Kris Bryant .486 August 11
  8. Anthony Rizzo .476 June 15
  9. Kyle Schwarber .472 April 30
  10. Javier Baez .450 June 23

Bottom 10 WPA Game Scores:

  1. Craig Kimbrel -.813 July 3
  2. Craig Kimbrel -.802 July 27
  3. Brandon Kintzler -.802 August 16
  4. Steve Cishek -.708 May 24
  5. Pedro Strop -.703 July 22
  6. Pedro Strop -.682 May 6
  7. Derek Holland -.677 August 15
  8. Craig Kimbrel -.649 September 21
  9. Mike Montgomery -.628 March 31
  10. Carl Edwards Jr. -.606 March 30

Top 10 WPA Plays:

  1. Anthony Rizzo .581 June 15
  2. Javier Baez .540 June 23
  3. Daniel Descalso .527 May 20
  4. Kyle Scwharber .517 April 30
  5. Kris Bryant .499 August 11
  6. Kris Bryant .478 August 21
  7. Willson Contreras .423 May 11
  8. Kyle Schwarber .423 July 16
  9. Kyle Schwarber .414 August 25
  10. Tony Kemp .409 August 16

Bottom 10 WPA Plays:

  1. Derek Holland -.677 August 15
  2. Steve Cishek -.570 May 24
  3. Pedro Strop -.511 July 26
  4. Craig Kimbrel -.438 July 27
  5. Brandon Kintzler -.436 September 7
  6. Brad Brach -.426 July 23
  7. Kyle Ryan -.416 May 20
  8. Brandon Kintzler -.391 August 16
  9. Randy Rosario -.390 April 3
  10. Craig Kimbrel -.384 September 19

Up Next: This brings us to the end of the 2019 season. I hope you’ve enjoyed following along during the season. I interact with some of you on a regular basis during the season and I appreciate that interaction. I know many of you read and don’t comment. Please know that I appreciate you reading and I hope that you’ll find an occasion to join our conversations next year. The official next Heroes and Goats will be scheduled for March 27 following the 2020 season opener the previous day against the Brewers. (Given that the game is in Milwaukee, there is a near certain chance that the game will be played as scheduled.)

However, if you have followed me here at Bleed Cubbie Blue for the past two off seasons, then you’ll be aware of the Historical Heroes and Goats offseason series that I run here. This offseason will be no different. I’ll be looking to bring you one to two parts per week throughout the offseason. We’ll take a look game by game and see what the 1969 season looked like through the lens of H&G. As always, I’ll not only look at the games, but the Heroes and the Goats. I’ll also give you some season and career stats for key players and give you some biographical information on them. I hope you’ll join me on this journey to the past.