Narratives can be fun. More than anything, they can be entirely based on perspective. The Cubs had one player have a very good night offensively Saturday night. That player was Jason Heyward. If I click the camera right now and I’m careful with how I frame the picture, how about this narrative? We’re in the middle of his contract, essentially, year five of the deal. If I gave you this narrative on the day he signed that contract back in early 2016, how would you feel? Jason Heyward leads the Cubs in OPS through last night’s game. The Cubs have already won a World Series during his time in Chicago and the Cubs have the third-best record in the National League. They are nearly certain to win the Central and have a chance to finish with the second-best record on the league in 2020. You’d have taken that deal, right?
Of course you’d have taken that deal. From the pre-2016 viewpoint, you’d have been ecstatic. A guy who is part of a championship club and a guy who is producing at star level in the middle of the contract. I mean, the reason we fear those deals is because you are always afraid that as we get into the back half of the contract you might be paying for past accomplishments while watching a guy play out the string. Of course, Heyward was relatively young when he signed that deal and so we had reason to believe he’d be playing well deep into that contract.
It’s been weird the way it has worked out. No question. But Jason Heyward did make important contributions to the 2016 championship team. And he is outproducing the remainder of the team. While it is true that the club’s other sluggers are underachieving in 2020, .930 OPS isn’t anything to sneeze at, nor is his 148 wRC+. Jason Heyward is one of the better hitters in the league this year.
And the bat isn’t really the main reason you sign Heyward. You sign him for leadership and defense with a decent bat. Let’s be clear, Heyward has only had two seasons above .800 OPS, with his previous high being .849 in his rookie season, way back in 2010. It’s going to be hard to look at this Jason Heyward contract as anything other than a success. He contributed to a championship in a meaningful way. To a man, that clubhouse will tell you that they don’t win that without him. He had his struggles offensively through the first half of the contract. But he never stopped working. Because of those struggles, he’s almost certainly going to record an odd accomplishment. He’s in year five of a deal and each year he’s posted a better OPS than the year before.
So to recap. Championship first year. Leadership. Defense. Hard work. Continued improvement through at least the second through fifth seasons. I’m not arguing that we should consider Jason Heyward’s contract, performance and contributions over, say, Jon Lester’s. But that was a big free agent deal that worked out for Theo too.
I mostly skipped over talking about last night’s game. The game was a dud. I’ll recap it below. What goes up must come down. Last night was one of those oh well, whatever games. Next? Turn the page. But first, let’s recap, rapid fashion.
And 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) 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. With that, let’s get to the results.
Game 52, September 19: Twins 8, Cubs 1 (31-21)
- Superhero: Jason Heyward (.058). Three at bats, three hits. Team leader in OPS.
- Hero: David Bote (.049). Just one hit in three at bats. The lone RBI.
- Sidekick: Rex Brothers (.002). Am I the only one who thinks that should have MD or DDS after it or something? Sounds like he should be an 80’s TV show. Rex might have been on borrowed time last night due to a bit of a roster crunch. If you were on borrowed time, you could do a lot of worse things than throw a scoreless inning, striking out three.
- Billy Goat: Nico Hoerner (-.096). Three at bats, no hits, one strikeout. They had five hits and Heyward had three of them, it’s pretty ugly for everyone else.
- Goat: Josh Osich (-.094). One hit allowed, one run. That doesn’t seem so bad. He inherited a runner on second and no outs in a 3-1 game. The first batter had the single. Then he hit a batter. The next batter hit a ground ball, but an error opened the flood gates allowing the first run. Duane Underwood Jr. followed and allowed all three inherited runners to score.
- Kid: Alec Mills (-.088). He probably deserved better. He pitched into the seventh and left with the game 3-1 and just a man on second. The offense wasn’t doing anything, but if the bullpen shuts that down, three over six plus, not so bad. He was charged with six hits, a walk, four runs and struck out seven. If the playoffs go beyond the first round for the Cubs, Alec is going to add “started a playoff game” to his growing resume.
WPA Play of the Game: With a runner on second and two outs in the sixth inning, the game was still just 1-1 at the time, Eddie Rosario singled to right to break the tie. (.152)
*Cubs Play of the Game: David Bote batted with runners on first and third and two outs in the second inning. He doubled, driving in the Cubs lone run to tie the game at one. (.117)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
- Yu Darvish 16
- Kyle Hendricks 15
- Ian Happ 14.5
- Jason Heyward 14.5
- Jason Kipnis 11
- Victor Caratini -9
- Willson Contreras -9.5
- Kris Bryant -10
- Javier Baez -12
- Anthony Rizzo -12.5
Cubs fans will pack Wrigley for the regular season home finale The Cubs will wrap up this empty-stadium era (please don’t make be wrong about this) at Wrigley Field against the Twins. Yu Darvish makes the start for the Cubs. He’ll be looking to add to his argument for NL Cy Young. He might pick up some support among those voters who look at team performance on top of gaudy numbers. Winning a game against another playoff team would be a nice add here at the end. Jose Berrios starts for the Twins. The Cubs bats have been essentially dormant in the series, let’s hope they come alive behind Yu tonight. As you might imagine, with one of the top starters in baseball the Cubs are pretty decently favored to win tonight. Two out of three sure ain’t bad against a quality Twins team.
Scoreboard Watching: The Cardinals are heavily favored to win in Pittsburgh. They sit 4½ games behind the Cubs. The Brewers host the Royals (and are also favored to win). The Reds host the White Sox, they are the lone underdog in the group. The Reds and Brewers both sit a game behind the Cardinals for the second guaranteed playoff spot. Both are alive for wildcard spots beyond that.