State of the Cubs 7/28/2017

Since it’s Friday let’s look at the state of the Cubs again.

3.0 30.7 443 416 49 45 -8.0 1.3 CHN 7/20/2017
2.6 36.3 477 443 54 47 -5.5 0.6 CHN 7/28/2017

BAT was pretty flat, PITCH was up as well as Unearned Runs above average (UR) and they went 5-2 gaining 3 more wins putting them at +7 for the season so far.   Currently they’re in first place again but that doesn’t matter until the end of the season.  A team should shoot for at least +20 for the year (91-71) to be considered true playoff contenders who can win a DS and CS and ultimately a WS.

Let’s look at Cubs’ current top players.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+100+ 2.18 Anthony_Rizzo_CHN 1B
+128+ 1.85 Brian_Duensing_CHN PITCH
+133+ 1.78 Wade_Davis_CHN PITCH
+137+ 1.74 Willson_Contreras_CHN CR
+142+ 1.68 Carl_Edwards_CHN PITCH
+154+ 1.60 Pedro_Strop_CHN PITCH
+171+ 1.47 Jon_Lester_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.03 Mike_Montgomery_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.99 Kris_Bryant_CHN 3B
XXXXX 0.94 Jake_Arrieta_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.73 Koji_Uehara_CHN PITCH

Cubs now have 8 guys in the top 200 which is why they’re +7 in the win/loss columns now.  An average team cannot be packed with superstars.  This table shows how the Cubs are climbing back to the top of MLB.  I’m reticent seeing Rizzo on top like this because the last bunch of status reports the top Cubs’ player faltered and fell (i.e Montgomery, Edwards, etc.).  Hopefully there isn’t a jinx. <anti jinx on> Duensing has been rising slowly and consistently all season with little fanfare.  Every out counts!<anti jinx off> 

As we mentioned in our All Star picks earlier, catchers are typically not good hitters but are the most important defensive asset on the field.  Willson Contreras’ hitting has been a huge asset and although we don’t have a evaluation model for fielding in general, catching in particular, he seems to keep hitters from running around the bases willy nilly.

<anti jinx totally on> This guy is missing from above table.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
XXXXX 0.04 Kyle_Schwarber_CHN LF

Kyle is now at the value he started the season at, ~0.  He didn’t have to climb much because he didn’t dip much below -0.5.  He wasn’t as bad as stat heads and so called experts were saying about him.  He’s now showing signs of positive movement.  In 2015 he put up +4.5 for a single player between the end of June to mid September.  That is proven capability.  There still is the rest of the season and playoffs that need to be played so we’ll see.  <anti jinx totally off>

We did an optimistic estimate of 92-94 wins during halftime edition of this report. That’s  +22 to +26 so they have to put up another +15 to +19 from now until the end of the season.  If the players above put up that value we should see many Cubs players in the top 100 before they start the playoffs.

Blast from the Past

Sometimes it’s good to put a current situation into perspective.  Let’s look at where the Cubs were this day in that infamous year 2003.

-29.5 40.9 470 467 52 52 -8.4 -0.0 CHN  7/28/2003

PITCH is about the same as current Cubs, BAT pretty bad as well as bad fielding and the Cubs were an even steven mediocre team.  They finish the year with 88 wins which was enough to win a weak NL Central.   This means they added +16 from now until the end of the season, almost as much as the current Cubs need  to hit our optimistic prediction.  That bad fielding haunted the Cubs in the NLCS — especially that flubbed double play after the Bartman incident.  But I digress….

Here were your top Cubs on this day in 2003.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+030+ 4.26 Mark_Prior_CHN PITCH
+045+ 3.72 Sammy_Sosa_CHN OF
+046+ 3.67 Carlos_Zambrano_CHN PITCH
+053+ 3.42 Kerry_Wood_CHN PITCH
+123+ 2.04 Corey_Patterson_CHN OF
+141+ 1.74 Moises_Alou_CHN OF
+143+ 1.74 Joe_Borowski_CHN PITCH
+182+ 1.43 Mark_Guthrie_CHN PITCH
+185+ 1.39 Kyle_Farnsworth_CHN PITCH

Nine guys in the top 200 and 4 guys in the top 100.   Since they had so many guys at the top of the league there had to be many at the bottom of the league pulling this team down to an average record.   The current Cubs don’t have many flashy superstars this season but they don’t have players dragging them down either.  They all seem to play together as a team which means when some players are slumping others are picking up the slack.  And then they trade places.   The 2003 team didn’t have that.  When those top players started playing bad, well, the Cubs lost.  As simple as that.  The next year, 2004, this team totally collapses because of this.

Cubs are playing the Brewers and we’ll do an analysis of the current Brewers and both team’s lineups for the second game tomorrow.  Until then….