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2020 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 60

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The season comes to a mostly satisfying (regular season) conclusion

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Cubs had little to play for on Sunday but they went out and won anyway. As much as Al’s piece about the Cubs backing into the postseason is factually accurate, the Cubs did actually accomplish what they needed to accomplish this weekend. They won two games. Paired with two Cardinals losses, that was more than enough to win the division. In the end, the Cubs won the division by three games over a pair of challengers.

The Cubs won 34 games. They shouldn’t have to apologize to anyone. Yes, after a 13-3 start, playing the rest of the season at two games under break-even was a letdown. But, those 13 early wins count just the same as the ones the Reds piled on late. They came into the season ready. They attacked from the opening bell. They cheered each other through that early run in the season while others appeared to be trying to figure out what summer baseball in 2020 was all about. They were serious about their quarantine rules. They had not a single player test positive during the season.

Certainly, the Cubs played the White Sox during a time when the White Sox were not playing their best ball. And the Cubs missed arguably the Sox top two pitchers. But, the Sox played the Cubs while the Cubs were not playing their best ball either, having just lost three straight to the team that finished with the worst record in baseball. The Cubs didn’t have Kyle Hendricks for the series. So, neither team was in peak form. Yet the Cubs scored 25 runs over three games and won two out of three. I can’t say this enough, that White Sox team is overflowing with talent. That team has as much potential as any team I’ve seen in the last few years. Potential isn’t always realized, but that team looks poised to start a really nice competitive window.

Before I move on to the Heroes and Goats from the game as well as give the full and final standings for the season, I want to make one honorable mention for yesterday’s game. It’s extremely unlikely I’ll ever get to write about a player stealing home and hitting a homer in the same game again (sorry, Javy!). Because of the situation at the time it was done, Billy Hamilton doesn’t show up in today’s Heroes. But, that was quite a feat. The Cubs are a better team in the playoffs for the speed and defense that Hamilton is capable of. Billy Hamilton, I’m awarding you the first-ever honorary Superhero. I’m pretty sure this distinction has no value, but I wanted to recognize a pretty cool accomplishment.

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 60, September 27: Cubs 10, White Sox 8 (34-26)


Source: FanGraphs

THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero: David Bote (.154). David had a hit and a walk in five plate appearances. But the hit was a two-run homer.
  • Hero: Adbert Alzolay (.111). Adbert continues to show progress. He threw five innings allowing two hits, two walks and one run. He struck out eight. Clearly, he’s on the roster for the post season. With a schedule showing fewer off days, would they consider starting him?
  • Sidekick: Kris Bryant (.101). KB matched Bote’s line with a homer and a walk among five plate appearances. Bryant scored twice. Make no mistake, the single most important thing that happened this weekend was his return to the lineup as a productive hitter.

THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat: Javier Baez (-.035). It’s hard to see any Goats when your team jumps out to a 10-1 lead with a team that looks like it came right out of a split squad game in Spring Training. Javy was already locked into the bottom spot for the year, but he increases his hold with the bottom spot here. He had one hit and one RBI in five at bats. If you squint, you might be able to see a little Javy progress over the weekend too. He and KB are going to need to matter if this team is going to make noise.
  • Goat: Duane Underwood, Jr (-.030). One inning, five hits, two runs. Two strikeouts though. I don’t read too much into an outing where he was probably told to throw strikes and get us out of there. A clunker none the less.
  • Kid: Brailyn Marquez (-.012). I was really happy for the kid getting a chance. He needed to be added to the 40-man roster in the offseason anyway. Surely, he’s not quite ready for the majors, but it’s great for the Cubs to get to see him in game action. It has to be tough to have no meaningful season and then get the call. But he’ll always remember that strikeout of Jose Abreu in a season where Abreu is very likely to receive MVP votes. The line? He recorded two outs while allowing two hits, three walks and five runs. That amounts to a 67.50 ERA.

WPA Play of the Game: David Bote batted with a runner on first and one out in the second inning. The Cubs were leading 1-0. He launched a two run homer. (.157)

*Sox Play of the Game: Yasmani Grandal batted in the ninth inning with a runner on first, the Sox down by four. He launched a two-run homer and for a minute, it looked like the comeback just might be possible. (.055)

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    David Bote
    (22 votes)
  • 46%
    Adbert Alzolay
    (91 votes)
  • 10%
    Kris Bryant
    (20 votes)
  • 31%
    Billy Hamilton
    (61 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (0 votes)
194 votes total Vote Now

Heroes and Goats Final 2020 Standings:

  • Yu Darvish 19
  • Kyle Hendricks 18
  • Ian Happ 14.5
  • Jason Heyward 12.5
  • Jason Kipnis 9
  • Dan Winkler 6
  • Jeremy Jeffress 4.5
  • Jason Adam 4.5
  • Duane Underwood, Jr 4
  • Jon Lester 2
  • Steven Souza, Jr 2
  • Jose Quintana 2
  • Ryan Tepera 1.5
  • Tyler Chatwood 1
  • Billy Hamilton 1
  • David Bote .5
  • Albert Almora, Jr 0
  • Rex Brothers 0
  • Adbert Alzolay 0
  • Craig Kimbrel -.5
  • Brailyn Marquez -1
  • Josh Phegley -1
  • James Norwood -1
  • Cameron Maybin -2
  • Casey Sadler -2
  • Tyson Miller -2
  • Alec Mills -3
  • Andrew Chafin -3
  • Josh Osich -3
  • Jose Martinez -3
  • Brad Wieck -3
  • Colin Rea -3
  • Kyle Schwarber -3
  • Nico Hoerner -3.5
  • Rowan Wick -6
  • Willson Contreras -6.5
  • Kyle Ryan -7
  • Victor Caratini -8
  • Anthony Rizzo -8.5
  • Kris Bryant -10
  • Javier Baez -22

For those wondering, that’s 10 fewer players than scored points in the full season of 2019. Still, the mark of the fast forward season is that I had more trouble remembering the full names of some of these guys than I can ever remember having.

Yu Darvish wins our Player of the Year in a close one over Kyle Hendricks. I’m not sure how predictive these things are, but the last time Kyle finished second the Cubs won a World Series. Yu had -6 and -5 season scores in his first two years as a Cub, so this is quite a jump. Jason Heyward has never had a positive season in his time with the Cubs, so his was the biggest jump. He’d twice before had the dubious distinction of finishing last.

At the bottom, Javier Baez takes the bottom spot. In 2018 and 2019 he challenged for the top spot. But he’s not a complete stranger to this neighborhood. He finished tied for third to last in 2017 with a -19 season. So this one is not totally unprecedented. Kris Bryant too has had a love/hate relationship with H&G. Last year, he lost a photo finish to Anthony Rizzo for the top spot. In 2017 he also finished near the top. But he was at an even 0 in 2018 and was fourth to last in 2016 while winning Rookie of the Year. The real surprise is Rizzo. I’ve repeatedly said that I’ll eventually call our season award the Rizzo. He’s never been out of the top group until this year. The flip of Rizzo and Heyward in the standings is the biggest surprise of the season from a H&G perspective.

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of the Year?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Yu Darvish
    (128 votes)
  • 5%
    Kyle Hendricks
    (9 votes)
  • 5%
    Jason Heyward
    (9 votes)
  • 3%
    Ian Happ
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    Jeremy Jeffress
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (1 vote)
155 votes total Vote Now

Up Next: The playoffs begin. The Cubs will host the Marlins on Wednesday afternoon. H&G will start fresh for the playoffs. Perhaps Rizzo will bounce back and lead the Cubs to a World Series while winning a postseason player of the year.