Welcome back. While it has only been a week since we last looked the cumulative standings of Heroes and Goats, it’s been 24 games since we checked in on team statistics. That is something I needed to remedy. Interestingly, the Cubs were exactly 12-12 over that 24-game stretch. So, the team was eight games over .500 54 games into the season and has tread water since that time. One would guess that the overall team rankings have probably gone down a bit, reflecting a team that has not played elite baseball in some time.
Before we can take a look at those team statistics, let’s update the full standings for Heroes and Goats, the core of this series.
Year to Date Total (change since last full standings)
(# = returned to minors, * = injured list, @ = restricted list)
- Anthony Rizzo 16
- Kris Bryant 14
- Cole Hamels 8
- Willson Contreras 8
- Javier Baez 7
- *Kyle Hendricks 5
- Daniel Descalso 4
- Brandon Kintzler 3.5
- Tyler Chatwood (PH) 3
- Tyler Chatwood 2.5
- @Ben Zobrist 2.5
- #Rowan Wick
- Victor Caratini 1.5
- #Xavier Cedeno 1
- Jon Lester 0
- #Dillon Maples -.5
- #Taylor Davis -.5
- David Bote -.5
- Carlos Gonzalez -1
- Mike Montgomery -1
- Steve Cishek -1
- #Mark Zagunis -1
- Tony Barnette -2
- Jose Quintana -2
- *Allen Webster -2
- #Randy Rosario -2
- Addison Russell -3
- Kyle Schwarber -3.5
- Kyle Ryan -4
- Brad Brach -6
- Albert Almora Jr. -6.5
- Pedro Strop -6.5
- Yu Darvish -9
- *Carl Edwards Jr. -9
- Jason Heyward -17
Anthony Rizzo is back on top. The Cubs have four offensive players that form the core of the team and it is no major surprise to see them in four of the top five spots. The other guy? That’s Cole Hamels who has been easily the most consistently good starter for the Cubs.
On the low end, Jason Heyward is in the cellar. Sadly, not an unfamiliar position for Jason. He’s hitting a fair bit better this year, but his timing hasn’t been great. One of the things that haunts Jason is the double play ball. He and Albert Almora Jr. have hit into eight and seven double plays respectively and find themselves near the bottom of the leaderboard. Of course Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo have hit into nine and eight, but they bat in prime RBI spots and also lead the team in homers. Carl Edwards Jr. remains in second to last, but in his defense, he hasn’t been on a negative podium since May 15. He just hasn’t gotten enough opportunities to move up the list. Yu Darvish is tied with Edwards. Yu looked like he was escaping this neighborhood but had a clunker last time out and fell into the Billy Goat role and tumbled back down.
34 players have now appeared in Heroes and Goats this year, including Tony Barnette who reached a podium in his first appearance as a Cub. Adbert Alzolay, Tim Collins, Jim Adduci and James Norwood are the three Cubs who have appeared in at least one game but haven’t yet appeared in Heroes and Goats.
- Average: .253 was .257 (8th NL, 16th MLB)
- On Base: .336 was .346 (3rd NL, 8th MLB)
- Slugging: .448 was .462 (6th NL, 12th MLB)
- OPS: .785 was .808 (4th NL, 8th MLB)
- Runs/game: 5.09 was 5.33 (5th NL, 11th MLB)
As expected, the Cubs have fallen back a bit across the board. The team OPS number has yo-yoed up and down in our checkpoints (.866, .787, .818, .796, .808, .785) and the current number isn’t too out of whack with that trend. But the batting average and on base percentage is in steady decline, as has the runs per game.
The offense remains above average, but I’ll say it over and over. When this team was being built, I expected that its hallmark would be elite offensive production. This team does not have elite offensive production. I think if the team is going to get to the next level, it needs a whole new breakout from Kris Bryant and then one other player to really step up their production. That could be a Kyle Schwarber breaking through to match some really strong peripherals this season or it could be someone like Addison Russell, Albert Almora Jr. or Carlos Gonzalez getting on a sustained hot streak to balance out the offense a bit.
- Hits/9: 8.3 was 8.5 (5th NL, 10th MLB)
- Walks/9: 3.5 was 3.8 (T10th NL, 21st MLB)
- HR/9: 1.2 was 1.1 (T2nd NL, T4th MLB)
- K/9: 8.7 was 8.7 (T9th NL, T14th MLB)
- Runs allowed/game: 4.27 was 4.39 (3rd NL, 6th MLB)
- Quality Start %: 47 was 46 (4th NL, 7th MLB)
- Average Game Score: 53 was 52 (5th NL, 9th MLB)
- Save %: 60 was 50 (T10th NL, T20th MLB)
- Inherited Runner Score %: 31 was 31 (T4th NL, T10th MLB)
The pitching numbers almost universally got better. While no Cub either in the starting rotation or the bullpen has really set themselves apart with an elite season, the Cubs have quite a deep staff in terms of quality performance. One of the things that happens to ordinary teams is that as the season wears on and the odd sore shoulder or tired arm occurs, there is a lack of available depth to handle the lost innings. This presses a minor leaguer to be called up out of necessity and not because they were necessarily deemed “ready.” The Cubs have already had two starts by Tyler Chatwood and tonight Adbert Alzolay will make a start before Chatwood makes a third start later in this series. Additionally, the Cubs have used 17 different non-position player relievers already this season. The famed Iowa shuttle has produced pitchers who in limited action have ERAs of (4.91, 3.52, 6.43, 0.00, 2.24, 2.45, 0.00, 0.00 and 27.00). Collectively, (not including Carl Edwards Jr. who was on the opening day roster and has extensive big league experience, or Kyle Ryan who appears to have worked his way into the core relief group) that group has allowed 20 runs (18 earned) in 42⅓ innings (3.83 ERA).
The soon to come addition of Craig Kimbrel should further bolster all of these numbers. Kimbrel has traditionally boasted a superior K/9 rate and also will slide some of the very good Cubs relievers into earlier innings and allow the Cubs to pick their spots better with some of the secondary pieces.
- Errors: 53 was 42 (14th NL, 25th MLB)
- Defensive Efficiency [percentage of balls in play turned into outs]: .692 was .682 (5th NL, 11th MLB).
The key takeaway here is that things are stabilizing. The last time we checked in, the Cubs were dead last in the NL in Defensive Efficiency and 23rd in MLB. That’s a significant move. The number right now is just a tick under the high water mark of .693 that we’ve logged so far this year. Defense was a hallmark of the championship team. After overall team consistency, a return to elite defense would be my second wish for this team.
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