Here ends our story. For the 2023 Cubs season anyway. Had I gone to journalism school or in some other way had some other formal type of training ahead of taking on this position, one of the things I suspect I’d have been taught is to not dismiss what I was going to write during the open. Here’s the thing, I don’t have that formal training and also, there isn’t a lot I could write up here as a hook to make it seem like this was a particularly interesting game.
It was particularly not interesting from a Heroes and Goats standpoint. Let’s go over our recipe. First, the Cubs were eliminated from contention on Saturday night. Second, the core of this Cubs team had little to no rest down the stretch. So most of the core players took a well-earned Sunday afternoon off. Third, to the extent that any of you may have ben interested in this game anyway, the Cubs fell behind by three runs in the first inning and then never scored. From a Heroes and Goats standpoint, by the end of the first inning, the Brewers were already 78 percent likely to win based upon WPA. The Cubs were then retired in order in the top of the second and third innings. At the end of the third inning, the Brewers were 81.5 percent likely to win. So it got lopsided early and just stayed that way.
And so, there isn’t much to talk about with this game. Sorry for the early spoiler, but I don’t have much need to try to create something out of nothing. Instead, I’m going to change up the formula for this edition of Heroes and Goats. I’m going to give you the numbers from this game right away. Then I’m going to give you the season standings in full. Then I’m going to give you some parting thoughts. Finally, I’m going to freeform ask you for a little feedback for me to devour over the offseason. So let’s get right to it.
Game 162, October 1: Brewers 4, Cubs 0 (83-79)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Daniel Palencia (.049). 2 IP, 8 batters, 2 H, 4 K, WP
- Hero: Luke Little (.046). 1⅔ IP, 6 batters, BB, 4 K
- Sidekick: Mike Tauchman (.019). 1-3, 2B, BB, 2 K
- Billy Goat: Drew Smyly (-.251). ⅓ IP, 6 batters, 2 H, 3 BB, 3 R (L 11-11)
- Goat: Alexander Canario (-.111). 0-4, 2 K
- Kid: Patrick Wisdom (-.092). 1-4, 2 K
WPA Play of the Game: Josh Donaldson drew a walk with the bases loaded and one out in the first inning, the Brewers were already up one. (.072)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Jeimer Candelario had a one-out single with a runner on first in the first inning, the runner on first going to third. (.070)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Christopher Morel (2-4)
Shane Greene (2 IP, H, 2 BB, 2 K)
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Yesterday’s Winner: Yan Gomes 44-29 over Alexander Canario (Superhero is 110-51)
A final note on the Superhero in relation to the Player of the Game. This is the first year that I tallied these results. The Superhero wins more than two-thirds of the time. WPA does a pretty reliable job of “getting it right.” I think my favorite thing about Player of the Game voting is that for those of you who regularly write in, you will regularly talk about voting for someone for various reasons not necessarily indicative that you actually think the player was the PotG. Obviously, this is a for fun poll in a for fun blog. It does amuse me, because I know many of you would give a hard time to someone who gave a stray vote for a year ending award of the Hall of Fame. Alas, we see the same scenarios here that we do there. When you are fairly certain that there is a definite PotG, you’ll consider tossing a vote to a stray person. But when the voting is to be close, you tend to bear down. No judgments here, I did all of the same things when I was a voter and not the author.
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 6/Bottom 6)
The award is named for Anthony Rizzo, who finished first in this category three of the first four years it was in existence and four times overall. He also recorded the highest season total ever at +65.5. The point scale is three points for a Superhero down to negative three points for a Billy Goat.
With no surprise or drama this year, Cody Bellinger is the 2023 Rizzo Award winner. Ian Happ got to within 10.5 late in the season, but it just was hard to imagine anyone running down Bellinger, even after he tailed off in September. For a little while, it looked like Cody might approach some of the all-time high numbers. This was the highest score since Rizzo had +35 in 2019 when he won this award for the last time. The last player to go past that was, unsurprisingly, Rizzo in 2017 with 38. This is tied for the eighth-highest score in the 10-year history of this award.
The most top heavy year remains 2015, when all three of the finalists (Rizzo 65.5, Arrieta 51, Bryant 39) were more than +35. That score by Rizzo remains the highest score ever. Rizzo won the award four time and no one else has yet won it twice. The award has been won twice by starters, twice by relievers and six times by position players.
Had I been inclined to have named favorites ahead of the season, he’d have been in my top five choices. I probably would have given you some grouping of Justin Steele, Marcus Stroman, Cody Bellinger, Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson. Some of you would have suggested that I should have also included Jameson Taillon. Seiya Suzuki was maybe the only other reasonable suggestion, but I don’t think he showed enough in 2022. He would, of course, be one of my favorites leading into 2024. There is definitely a viable scenario where Suzuki takes a step forward and is the best hitter on the 2024 Cubs.
- Cody Bellinger +35
- Ian Happ +21.5
- Adbert Alzolay +18
- Justin Steele/Javier Assad +16
- Seiya Suzuki +11
- Marcus Stroman/Matt Mervis +8
- Keegan Thompson/Mike Tauchman +7
- Jordan Wicks/Brad Boxberger/Jose Cuas/Yan Gomes +3
- Nico Hoerner +2.5
- Nelson Velazquez/Luke Little +2
- Jeimer Candelario +1
- Kyle Hendricks/Miles Mastrobuoni 0
- Edwin Rios/Mark Leiter Jr. -.5
- Nick Madrigal/Hayden Wesneski -1
- Jared Young -2
- Miguel Amaya/Brandon Hughes/Caleb Kilian -3
- Daniel Palencia -3.5
- Alexander Canario/Julian Merryweather/Pete Crow-Armstrong/Jeremiah Estrada/Eric Hosmer/Luis Torrens/Anthony Kay -4
- Tucker Barnhart -4.5
- Michael Rucker -6
- Christopher Morel -6.5
- Michael Fulmer -9
- Patrick Wisdom/Dansby Swanson -17
- Drew Smyly -18
- Trey Mancini -20.5
- Jameson Taillon -23
Luke Little reached a podium in the very last game, marking the 45th player to appear in H&G in 2023. Three players did not make a podium but appeared in at least one game. Those three are Shane Greene, Nick Burdi, and Tyler Duffey. In 2022, there were 59 different players in H&G, there were a record 65 in 2021. In 2018, we also had 45 different Cubs that appeared in H&G.
So this closes the door on the 2023 season. I will once again thank everyone who read and everybody who commented. Heroes and Goats wouldn’t exist if there weren’t readers and it wouldn’t be as interesting without commenters. A number of you have had very kind things to say about the work I do here. I do spend a lot of time on writing during the course of the season and it can at times be intrusive in life. Knowing that I add something to the fan experience and the BCB experience for a number of you makes that worth it to me. Thank you so very much.
You reach a certain point in life and you don’t guarantee anything anymore. That said, very different from where I was a year ago, I’m ready to go on the 2024 season. Last year, I was really worn out and thinking about hanging up the keyboard. This year, I’m energized. This team was so much fun covering and the interactions this season, felt very productive. I feel like there were some really good conversations in this space. This space is so very often respectful. There aren’t a lot of attacks, but we also aren’t afraid to disagree with each other.
Any number of you corrected me on some point or another over the course of the year. I thank all of you who did so in a respectful way. I welcome the feedback and the interaction. At least twice along the way I stepped on the toes of someone who had feedback for me. At least once it was very much tongue in cheek, but I was reminded that not everyone understands where there is sarcasm. It can be hard in writing and so another reason to not be mean towards one another (so that there is no expectation that you are being mean).
I think I’ve been inclined each of my seven years doing this to ask for feedback on my work on a larger sense. Certainly, if there is something you’d like there to be more of or less of, I’m all ears. Separately, I can be emailed at email@example.com. I can be followed on Twitter at @colbylives. I welcome any input always.
I’m inclined to drop “three stars” from this space. I did that defensively when the overall tone of anything about the Cubs was becoming very negative. With the team being more competitive, it doesn’t feel necessary. That information does end up feeling redundant next to the Heroes and Goats. This doesn’t mean I can’t talk about a player or a performance or an inning or several innings in the narrative. But I think many nights the three stars is somewhat duplicative. What do you think? Is there anything else I could do more of or less of that might add to the quality of this content?
What will the offseason look like? My day job grows increasingly busy. I’m never going to have the kind of time I once had for Historical Heroes and Goats. I will absolutely write up an overview recap of that 1989 season as part of staying visible in the offseason. I apologize to those who enjoyed my work there and didn’t get the last portions of that.
I’d like to write one or two medium length pieces per month through the offseason. My general plan is to look at either A) one season in an overview form and giving top and bottom five in the season standings. I would target either notable team or individual seasons. For instance: A Barry Bonds season, a Shohei Ohtani, or Mike Trout. This year’s MVPs? Maybe a look at what H&G has to say about the seasons of Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña Jr.
B) would be a spotlight on special games in MLB history. The Cubs comeback against the Astros in 1989 would be an obvious example. I do this from time to time and take you event by event through a game that went from lopsided to a come from behind win.
So, this is goodbye for now. But definitely not goodbye for good. I definitely should be more visible this offseason than last one. Don’t be afraid to reach out and make a suggestion.