Addison Russell’s 2019 season was delayed at the start because of his suspension related to domestic abuse. Then, once he did finally join the Cubs, he got off to a slow start. But it is always important with small sample sizes to remember just how quickly things can change. I always preach patience, but sometimes it can be hard to do. I read a lot into the second half of the 2018 season for Albert Almora Jr. and assumed he was broken to start the 2019 season. Many have written off Addison due to his off the field issues coupled with two rough seasons at the plate.
I certainly understand after what ended up being a dismal 2018 season why people were really down on Russell. Don’t sleep on his offensive potential though. Addison was not a good player when hurt, but the Cubs let him keep running out there because they had a host of other injuries, including losing Kris Bryant for stretches of the season. Without cherry picking too much, Addison had 220 plate appearances between April 20 and July 3, 2018. Over that time, he hit .303/.361/.439 (wRC+ 117). He had a BB% of 8.2% and a K% of 22.3%. With above average shortstop defense, you are looking at a borderline All-Star.
I’m never going to ignore that Russell’s off-the-field issues happened. In this space, I’m always going to talk about him on the field and what he contributed to the team. On Sunday, he was the Cubs Superhero. You may not want to see him with a cape on, but today he wore pinstripes while delivering three hits, scoring two runs and driving in two runs in four at bats. One of his three hits was a home run.
I’d also like to debunk one other myth. Somehow after an early 2018 injury, Anthony Rizzo was labelled as a slow starter. Anthony Rizzo is not a year over year slow starter. Consider his month-to-month career numbers:
- March/April .836 OPS (35 HR in 736 PA)
- May .905 OPS (39 HR in 801 PA)
- June .913 OPS (35 HR in 778 PA)
- July .836 OPS (36 HR in 824 PA)
- August .855 OPS (36 HR in 831 PA)
- September/October .808 (24 HR in 796 PA)
To the contrary, Anthony actually finishes slower than he starts. But more than anything he is simply one of the most consistent hitters in the current era of MLB.
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 50, May 25: Cubs 8, Reds 6 (30-20)
- Superhero: Addison Russell (.294). Three hits in four at bats, one homer, two runs, two RBI. In 43 PA, Addison has a .256/.310/.436 line (wRC+ 98). His BB% is 7.0 and his K% is 20.9.
- Hero: David Bote (.253). One hit in one at bat and drove in a run. It was a big one, an RBI-double with one out in the bottom of the eighth to give the Cubs a 7-6 lead.
- Sidekick: Anthony Rizzo (.119). Rizzo had just one hit in four at bats. That one hit was a fourth innings two-run double.
- Billy Goat: Yu Darvish (-.430). Yu was asked to go as deep into this game as he could. To his credit, he was efficient with his pitch count on a day when the wind was blowing out pretty hard. He ended up allowing 12 hits, two walks and six runs over seven innings. It’s hard to look at this performance and being super excited, but this one felt pretty good to me.
- Goat: Kyle Schwarber (-.034). Kyle had one hit in four at bats. He drove in a run and scored one.
- Kid: Javier Baez (-.027). Javy had just one walk in four plate appearances. He struck out twice. Javy’s in just the slightest but of a slump.
WPA Play of the Game: Derek Dietrich hit a solo homer leading off the eighth inning to tie the game at 6-6. (.254)
*Cubs Play of the Game: David Bote doubled with runners on first and second with one out in the eighth inning to give the Cubs a 7-6 lead.
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Willson Contreras 13
- Tyler Chatwood/Anthony Rizzo 8.5
- Kyle Schwarber -8
- Yu Darvish/Carl Edwards Jr. -10
Up Next: Each team will be seeking to make it two out of three in this weekend series. The Cubs will be seeking a second straight win and to even the season series at three games apiece. The Sunday starter is Jose Quintana. Jose is 4-3 with a 3.30 ERA in 57⅓ innings. Jose hasn’t won since his first start of this month back on May 5. Last time, he threw six innings in a no decision against the Phillies. He threw six scoreless innings and allowed two hits, three walks and struck out four. He faced the Reds back on May 16. In that one, he lasted only five innings and allowed six hits, one walks and three runs. He struck out four. Current Reds have 169 PA with a .756 OPS against Jose. Jose Iglesias has the most plate appearances 29 (.586 OPS). Joey Votto has hit Q well (1.176 OPS in 17 PA).
Tanner Roark is the Reds starter. He is 3-3 with a 3.51 ERA in 51⅓ innings this year. He’s lost his last two starts including the last one when he lasted only five innings against the Dodgers. He allowed only two hits and three walks. He allowed two runs while striking out seven. He faced the Cubs on May 14 in the previous start. In that one, he lasted five innings and allowed eight hits, one walk and three runs. He struck out six.
The 32-year-old right-handed pitcher has allowed a .516 OPS versus right-handed hitters and a .947 against left-handed hitters. Current Cubs have 134 PA against Tanner with a .675 OPS. Jason Heyward leads the way (26 PA, .115 OPS). One Cub who has hit Roark well is Kris Bryant (14 PA, 1. 286). Anthony Rizzo has homered twice off of Roark.
I think the Cubs can get this done to post a 4-3 homestand and even up the season series against the Reds.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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