Another week and another Cubs status. Let’s start off with current team status with our last snapshot.
BAT improved, PITCH declined and the Cubs went 4-3 or +1 for the week. The Cubs have been bobbling the ball giving up runs because UR is down. A baseball season is a marathon and if they eek out +1 every week until October they’ll finish +12 or +14 which is 87-75 or 88-74. The 2003 Cubs won the NL Central with 88 wins.
Instead of listing top Cubs let’s do a roster dump for starting pitchers, relief, and hitters. This will provide a more accurate status based upon who is on the team. The BAT and PITCH numbers in team status are based upon season long accumulation. We did this for the entire league a few days ago.
Jake Arrieta pitched well again yesterday and has clawed his way back into the top 100. Lester is missing for some reason. The roster file has 25 players sans Lester. Interesting. His last game was bad so maybe he’s hurt.
Relief has been dropping gradually but they’re still fielding 4 guys in the top 200. Justin Wilson is listed twice because he’s an acquisition from Detroit. He has pitched -0.29 for the Cubs which drops him out of top 200. His 1.66 with Detroit is frozen and counts towards the overall value of the Cubs’ relief staff. This is still a top tier MLB staff. You can scan the table here to see all the other team’s relief values.
Wilson Contreras would have added another +2.5 to the hitter’s value. Rizzo is solidly in the top 100 and Baez is close. Sxhwarber is hovering around average and he has proven potential to put up +2 from now until October. Rizzo usually settles in ranked between #25 and #50 so he has some more climbing to do as well as Bryant.
Adding the above three totals comes to around +19 and the Cubs’ real W-L is +7. This discrepancy can be explained in three parts: 1) We don’t count the negative hitting value for pitchers so that number isn’t part of the hitters’ total. Perhaps we should. 2) Many negative players aren’t on the team anymore, and 3) The total team WAA reflects the Pythagorean Expectation estimation, not real life. PE and real life are often very close but there is error in the PE estimation. That error is the error in this model and we know exactly what it is. All estimations have error.
Edit: Clarification for the statement now in bold above. We absolutely count pitcher negative hitting value and it’s entirely necessary in order to balance all the books in this model. We show and count that value when displaying lineups. We don’t count that value against a pitcher’s pitching value. Pitchers are listed as two separate players; a hitter and a pitcher. Adding the negative pitching value for all Cubs’ pitchers this season comes to around -3 and around -2 for the current set of pitchers still on the roster. Right now we throw pitcher-hitters in a separate set from fielders as hitters.
The WAR value calculation is saddled with two sets of estimation errors; hits to runs and runs to wins. A run based model only has one estimation, runs to wins. The PE estimation was developed by Bill James and there is a proof you can read about here.
Blast from the Past 2003
Since we brought up the 2003 Cubs winning the NL Central with 88 wins let’s see where those Cubs were on this day in 2003.
Terrible hitting and great pitching and the Cubs were +4 in the real win/loss columns which is all that matters to the MLB commissioner. Here are the Cubs in top 200 on this day in 2003.
Nine guys in the top 200, 4 in top 100, this team was stacked with value compared with the current Cubs. I suspect their current roster is far better than their run differential indicates. We have historical lineups but don’t have a script to do these lookups and make a table. On this day the Cubs fielded an almost completely average lineup which is far better than their BAT indicates in team status.
That is all for now. Cubs play TOR in Wrigley at the standard 1:20pm.