With 13 straight games (and one trade deadline) in the books since we last checked in and with an off day this week, it’s time to take the vitals on this Cubs season. As always, we’ll take a look at the year to date standings for Heroes and Goats as well as year to date team statistics.
When last we checked in, 13 games ago, the Cubs were 56-49. They were tied for first with the Cardinals and were one game ahead of the Brewers. The Cubs won eight of 13. Now they enter this off day with a two-game lead on the Cardinals (one in the loss column, thanks to two more games played by the Cubs) and a 2½-game lead on the Brewers (who have played one more game than the Cubs).
The Cubs have also moved 1½games ahead of the Nationals who lead the NL Wild Card standings, with the Cardinals currently occupying the second spot. The Cubs enter the off day with Fangraphs estimating a 72 percent chance that they win their division and an 85.8 percent chance that they make the playoffs in some way. They also have the Cubs as having a 7.3 percent chance of winning the World Series. That’s just 0.1 percent worse than the Braves who right now would have home field over the Cubs in a best-of-five first round playoff matchup. The Dodgers are the favorite in the NL to win the series (16.8) and the Astros as the most likely overall (30.7). The Yankees are the only other team Fangraphs thinks has a better chance of winning it all (12.8). So the Cubs are the fifth most likely team to win it all by an eyelash.
My takeaway from the previous paragraph? Fangraphs is more optimistic about the Cubs than I am. Though on the days where the Cubs are steam rolling anyone and everyone at Wrigley Field, they are probably right about in line with where I am. I guess they are less nervous about the road woes than I am. We’ll see what happens with the conclusion of the current road trip.
For now though, let’s dive into the cumulative standings for Heroes and Goats.
Year to Date Total (change since last full standings)
(# = returned to minors, * = injured list, @ = restricted list, ! = out of the organization)
- Kris Bryant 27.75 (-1.75)
- Anthony Rizzo 22 (0)
- Javier Baez 14.5 (+6.5)
- Kyle Hendricks 11 (0)
- Ian Happ 10.5 (+8.5)
- Cole Hamels 8 (0)
- Rowan Wick 5.5 (+3.5)
- *Willson Contreras 5 (-5)
- Nicholas Castellanos 5 (+5)
- *Daniel Descalso 4 (0)
- *Brandon Kintzler 3.5 (0)
- Tyler Chatwood (PH) 3 (0)
- @Ben Zobrist 2.5 (0)
- Kyle Schwarber 2.24 (-3.75)
- Tyler Chatwood 1.5 (+2)
- *Xavier Cedeno 1 (0)
- Kyle Ryan 1 (0)
- Dillon Maples .5 (0)
- *Randy Rosario .5 (0)
- Derek Holland .25 (+.25)
- Duane Underwood Jr. .25 (+.25)
- @Tony Barnette 0 (0)
- #Taylor Davis -.5 (0)
- David Bote -.5 (0)
- #Mark Zagunis -1 (0)
- Tony Kemp -1 (-1)
- David Phelps -2 (-2)
- Alec Mills -2 (0)
- #Addison Russell -2 (0)
- *Allen Webster -2 (0)
- *Craig Kimbrel -2 (+1)
- #Adbert Alzolay -3 (0)
- !Carlos Gonzalez -3 (0)
- !Martin Maldonado -3 (0)
- Jose Quintana -4 (+3)
- Jon Lester -5.5 (-8)
- Victor Caratini -5.5 (-4)
- *Steve Cishek -7 (-3)
- #Robel Garcia -7 (-3)
- !Mike Montgomery -7 (0)
- !Brad Brach -7.5 (0)
- Yu Darvish -10 (+1)
- Albert Almora Jr. -11.5 (+1)
- Jason Heyward -12 (0)
- !Carl Edwards Jr. -12 (0)
- Pedro Strop -17.5 (-.5)
Once again, Kris Bryant holds on to the top spot. Anthony Rizzo stays in second. But Javier Baez has resurfaced and sits in third place. Those three have been the most consistent offensive leaders and their presence at the top of these charts make sense. For the period, Ian Happ (+8.5) made the biggest move, followed by Baez (+6.5) and Nicholas Castellanos (+5). These three have done the heaviest lifting with the Cubs’ push back to the front.
On the bottom end, Pedro Strop has maintained his hold on the bottom spot. He’s healthy and getting some leverage spots, so he does have a chance to move out of this spot. Just ahead of him are the departed Carl Edwards Jr., tied with Jason Heyward. Jason has had a nice campaign, but it hasn’t been highly appreciated by H&G. Albert Almora Jr. and Yu Darvish have been slowly trending upwards and could escape this group. Not too far ahead of the two of them are two pitchers who are no longer in the Cubs organization. Over the period, Jon Lester had the biggest negative move (-8), followed by Willson Contreras before his injury. Victor Caratini has had increased playing time and it hasn’t produced positive WPA results to date.
45 different players have now recorded points in Heroes and Goats this year. 49 different players have played for the Cubs this year, so four haven’t yet appeared in any H&G. Those four are Tim Collins, Jim Adduci, James Norwood and Jonathan Lucroy.
- Average: .255 was .252 (7th NL, 11th MLB)
- On Base: .334 was .332 (4th NL, 8th MLB)
- Slugging: .453 was .452 (4th NL, 8th MLB)
- OPS: .787 was .782 (3rd NL, 7th MLB)
- Runs/game: 5.01 was 5.05 (5th NL, 11th MLB)
Oddly, the Cubs runs per game dropped over the period while they increased all of the other statistics. The Cubs continue to be right about the bottom of the top third on offense.
- Hits/9: 8.5 was 8.4 (5th NL, 9th MLB)
- Walks/9: 3.2 was 3.4 (7th NL, 14th MLB)
- HR/9: 1.3 was 1.2 (6th NL, 8th MLB)
- K/9: 8.8 was 8.6 (9th NL, 15th MLB)
- Runs allowed/game: 4.36 was 4.37 (3rd NL, 8th MLB)
- Quality Start %: 45 was 46 (5th NL, 9th MLB)
- Average Game Score: 52 was 53 (5th NL, 10th MLB)
- Save %: 59 was 56 (11th NL. 21st MLB)
- Inherited Runner Score %: 31 was 32 (11th NL, 20th MLB)
Phew. That’s a mixed bag. The Cubs are now allowing more hits and more homers. But significantly less walks while increasing their strikeouts. They’ve allowed less runs, but their quality start percentage and average game score have both moved in the wrong direction. Their save percentage has increased and their inherited runners allowed dropped (which is of course a positive).
I’m going to say this: Increasing the number of strikeouts while decreasing the number of walks is an incredibly positive development. We know from scores of data that increasing strikeouts while decreasing walks is a good fundamental goal. That walk number is the lowest of the season. The strikeout number hasn’t been that high since the 45-game mark and had been trending down to a season low of 8.6, so that’s a nice bump. The home run rate is essentially a season high (it was higher over the first 20 games when the numbers are subject to a lot of change due to small sample). But, a good percentage of the home run bump was one horrible series, and particularly a couple of games in Cincinnati over the weekend.
Three of the five starters had a full out clunker the last time through the rotation. That is baked into these numbers. But, the bullpen, despite a number of injuries, appears to finally be stabilizing. Rowan Wick and Kyle Ryan have been leading a revamped bullpen with whatever arms happen to be healthy and ready to pitch on a given night. The save percentage has reached the highest point in about a month. The inherited runner percentage is back down to pretty close to the season low (it checked in at 30% through 45 games.)
Despite those three terrible starts the last time through, the overall runs allowed is close to a season low (it was at 4.27 at 78 games and 4.09 as late as 45 games). In short, despite some noise in the numbers, the pitching seems to be trending positively.
- Errors: 79 was 72 (11th NL, 19th MLB)
- Defensive Efficiency [percentage of balls in play turned into outs]: .689 was .692 (7th NL, 12th MLB)
The Cubs nudged up slightly in terms of their overall ranking in the error department. Their defensive efficiency meanwhile moved in the wrong direction. That number particularly, I feel was dragged down by the debacle Saturday night. In addition to the six homers allowed in one game, they also allowed 12 other hits.
Be it bad execution or BABIP regression, three Cubs starters had particularly rough outings this last time through the rotation. I’m hopeful that there is more noise than substance in that.
Up Next: The Cubs continue this road trip with three in Philadelphia and three in Pittsburgh. Then they get an off day. Then they host the Giants and Nationals for three games each. After those 12 games, we’ll take another pause and look back in on these statistics. The Phillies are desperately trying to cling to the wildcard race, while the Pirates season has completely fallen apart. The Giants are on the periphery of the wildcard race and the Nationals are right in the thick of it. The Pirates are the only one of the four opponents who has clearly turned its attention to 2020. But, those three games are on the road where nothing has come easy for the Cubs this year. So, none of these next 12 games appear to be too much of a sure thing. I’d think seven would be decent and eight would be very good over this next stretch.
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