I can’t decide if the first 10 Cubs games this year were totally unexpected or exactly what everyone expected. I suspect the correct answer is somewhere in the middle. I’m going to do one of these “state of the union” pieces roughly every 10 games through the year. In this space, I’ll give you the updated year to date standings for Heroes and Goats. I’ll also look at some statistics from the hitters and the pitchers and we’ll track the progress of them over the course of the season to see how things are trending.
Of course, we’ve only had 10 games, and 10 games don’t particularly set trends so much as stake out what the trends might be. So what did we see in the first 10 games? The Cubs scored 72 runs in these 10 games. I think that has to have been at least a little unexpected. The Cubs did play in three parks that have generally been pretty favorable to hit in for the bulk of those 10 games.
The Cubs also allowed 71 runs in those 10 games. I’d think that was wholly unexpected. But again, the hitting conditions were pretty favorable over those first 10 games and for the bulk of it, the Cubs were facing dynamic offenses. So maybe not as unexpected as we might think.
Probably the thing that was most predicted for the 2019 Cubs was bullpen struggles. As it turns out, bullpen struggles obscured what may have been a very good start by the Cubs in these first 10 games. Regardless of the struggles of the starting rotation, the Cubs not only won three of their first 10 games, but they also blew three late leads. Had the Cubs held on to win those three games, this would be a 6-4 start having faced two reigning division champions on a nine game season-opening road trip. Fortunately, the Cubs finished out this stretch of 10 games with 12 consecutive scoreless innings out of their bullpen. And after heavy usage Sunday and Monday they get an off day behind that.
With that overview behind us, let’s first take a look at the year to date standings for Heroes and Goats and see how things have stacked up in the early going.
(# - returned to minor leagues, * - placed on injured list)
- Ben Zobrist 11
- Willson Contreras 5
- Javier Baez 5
- Daniel Descalso 4
- Victor Caratini 4
- Anthony Rizzo 3
- Jason Heyward 2
- Jon Lester 2
- Brad Brach 2
- Kyle Schwarber 1
- Brandon Kintzler 1
- Cole Hamels 0
- Steve Cishek -1
- Mark Zagunis -1
- Allen Webster -1
- David Bote -1
- Yu Darvish -2
- Pedro Strop -2
- *Mike Montgomery -2
- Tyler Chatwood -2
- Randy Rosario -3
- Albert Almora Jr. -3
- Jose Quintana -3
- Kris Bryant -5
- Kyle Hendricks -6
- #Carl Edwards Jr. -8
27 Cubs have appeared in the first 10 games. 26 of them have appeared as either a Hero or Goat with Kyle Ryan being the only exception to date. Unsurprisingly, the top of this list is dominated by Cubs hitters. Only four of the 14 pitchers who have so far been either a Hero or Goat have totaled an even or better score. Among those on the negative side are a few unusual names. Pedro Strop at -2 was last season’s cumulative winner. Kyle Hendricks has been a steady top five H&G performer for years now. But, he’s a slow starter. In 2017, he didn’t appear on the Hero podium for the first time until the last week in April. He went on to finish fifth for the year.
At this point, let’s turn our attention to the offensive statistics and see how the Cubs have stacked up.
- Average: .289 (2nd MLB, 2nd NL)
- On Base: .380 (2nd MLB, 2nd NL)
- Slugging: .486 (5th MLB, 3rd NL)
- OPS: .866 (3rd MLB, 2nd NL)
- Runs/Game: 7.2 (3rd MLB, 2nd NL)
The Dodgers have flat out laid waste to their opponents in their first 11 games. Their team slash line is .296/.396/.559 and they are averaging 7.91 runs per game. Basically, their entire offense is performing like a strong MVP candidate. But the Cubs are second in virtually every category in the National League. If, and that’s a very large if, this offense can sustain the approach behind this hot start, then the pitching staff doesn’t have to be elite for this team to be very good.
- Hits/9: 11.0 (30th MLB, 15th NL)
- Walks/9: 6.0 (30th MLB, 15th NL)
- HR/9: 2.2 (28th MLB, 15th NL)
- K/9: 9.4 (11th MLB, 5th NL)
- Runs allowed/game: 7.1 (30th MLB, 15th NL)
So this was a full dumpster fire over the first 10 games. The scary part of course is that the Cubs threw a team shutout on the last day of this stretch, significantly improving these numbers to still essentially be last across the board.
Cubs starters have a quality start percentage of 30% through the 10 games. 20 teams have done better than that. The Cubs average game score comes in at 41. That’s good for 29th best. Cubs relievers have no saves and three blown saves. They’ve also allowed 54% of their inherited runners to score. That is second worst in the majors (interestingly, the Dodgers are worst).
- Errors: 12 (29th MLB, 15th NL)
- Defensive Efficiency [percentage of balls in play turned into outs]: .622 (29th MLB, 14th NL)
As the season progresses, we’ll watch the balance as the Cubs surely come back to earth a bit offensively and almost definitely move up through the pack with their pitching and defense.
Who was the Cubs player of the first 10 games?
This poll is closed