Cubs Status Halftime Edition

Since we’re now in All Star Break, let’s do another Cubs Status Halftime Edition  The real   halftime  to this season was a couple weeks ago at the end of June.  The formal halftime with the All Star Game as halftime show is now.  Compared to last season’s Cubs Status halftime update, this one will be more pleasant.  And to celebrate, two Blast From The Pasts at the end, one feature the 1984 Cubs.  Let’s get started with team status now and from the last time we did this.

BAT PITCH Rs Ra W L UR LR TeamID
49.8 51.4 440 336 50 36 3.1 -0.3 CHN 7/8/2018
51.0 58.9 476 362 55 38 4.1 -0.0 CHN 7/16/2018

BAT up a little, PITCH up a little more and the Cubs went 5-2 gaining 3 games to give them a real WAA=+17.  UR up which is a good sign.  This means they give up less unearned  runs than league average.  Unearned runs are the only fielding metric that can be almost 100% accurate on a play by play basis.  The above shows a very balanced team.  Let’s see the current top Cubs as of now.

Top Cubs

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+007+ 5.46 Javier_Baez_CHN 2B-SS-3B
+020+ 4.18 Jon_Lester_CHN PITCH
+069+ 2.31 Steve_Cishek_CHN PITCH
+085+ 2.04 Jason_Heyward_CHN RF-CF
+093+ 1.95 Brandon_Morrow_CHN PITCH
+120+ 1.74 Anthony_Rizzo_CHN 1B
+143+ 1.55 Kyle_Schwarber_CHN LF
+144+ 1.53 Pedro_Strop_CHN PITCH
+154+ 1.45 Randy_Rosario_CHN PITCH
+180+ 1.28 Justin_Wilson_CHN PITCH
+181+ 1.28 Ben_Zobrist_CHN 2B-LF-RF
+199+ 1.18 Anthony_Bass_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.07 Kris_Bryant_CHN 3B
XXXXX 1.05 Albert_Almora_CHN CF
XXXXX 0.84 Carl_Edwards_Jr._CHN PITCH

Baez still holding onto a top ten spot.  Lester dropped to #20 but much better than last season.  I recall him getting shelled his last start before 2017 all star break.   Heyward on track to post a career year this season.  His best year was 2012 with ATL where he ended with WAA=+3.1.   You can’t tell from this table but Kris Bryant is on the upswing since he came back.  New guy Anthony Bass breaks into top 200 but one bad outing and he’ll drop.  It’s difficult to hold onto a 0.63 ERA forever — except if you’re Mariano Rivera in the playoffs.

CHN Tier Data

Type Tier Name_Teamid WAA
Lineups 1 CHN 11.13
SP 4 Tyler_Chatwood_CHN -1.68
SP 3 Kyle_Hendricks_CHN 0.69
SP 1 Jon_Lester_CHN 4.18
SP 3 Jose_Quintana_CHN 0.50
SP 3 Mike_Montgomery_CHN 0.48
RP 1 CHN 6.97

This is now a standard feature for these reports showing Tiering used in simulations.  When Lester pitches the Cubs have a 1-1-1 lineup/starter/relief combo which is best you can get.   Starters are hanging in there but it’s tough winning playoff series with Tier 3 (average) starters and Lester can’t pitch every day.  Here are relievers in the Cubs’ top of MLB relief.

CHN Relief

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+069+ 2.31 Steve_Cishek_CHN PITCH
+093+ 1.95 Brandon_Morrow_CHN PITCH
+144+ 1.53 Pedro_Strop_CHN PITCH
+154+ 1.45 Randy_Rosario_CHN PITCH
+180+ 1.28 Justin_Wilson_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.06 James_Norwood_CHN PITCH
XXXXX -0.08 Rob_Zastryzny_CHN PITCH
-115- -1.53 Brian_Duensing_CHN PITCH
Total 6.97

Five guys on CHN relief staff in top 200, two in the top 100.  That’s good.  Total WAA=6.97 which is right by the Tier 1/2 border of 6.73.  Average relief staff is WAA=+2.85.  Simulations use deltas so not dependent on hard borders.

So that’s it.  Nothing to complain about.   It appears the Cubs are in first place but that doesn’t matter now.  Their team consists of a lot of above average players which is how teams make the playoffs.  Making it through the playoffs requires a team playing at their peak in September and October.

Since we haven’t done Blast From the Past much at all this season, today we’ll do two.  Because this Cubs team is close to the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs team that won a World Series trophy let’s reminisce about days yore — all the way back to july 17, 2016.

Blast From the Past  Part 1

CHN Team Status

BAT PITCH Rs Ra W L UR LR TeamID
60.5 81.7 469 322 55 35 3.9 0.9 CHN 7/16/2016
-2.1 25.0 426 410 46 45 -8.9 2.1 CHN 7/16/2017
51.0 58.9 476 362 55 38 4.1 -0.0 CHN 7/16/2018

The above show today and the last two years of team status on this day.  Cubs were +20 in 2016 and +1 last season.  At ASG last the season the Cubs were -2 but they played a week earlier.  UR was terrible last season and very comparable to this season in 2016.  Both BAT and PITCH were way above this season in 2016.  Let’s look at the top Cubs on this day in 2016.

Top Cubs 7/16/2016

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+005+ 5.33 Kris_Bryant_CHN 3B-LF-RF
+009+ 4.39 Kyle_Hendricks_CHN PITCH
+015+ 4.07 Jake_Arrieta_CHN PITCH
+027+ 3.72 Anthony_Rizzo_CHN 1B
+043+ 3.09 Jon_Lester_CHN PITCH
+083+ 2.37 Ben_Zobrist_CHN 2B-LF-RF
+104+ 2.06 Jason_Hammel_CHN PITCH
+113+ 1.91 Hector_Rondon_CHN PITCH
+148+ 1.60 Addison_Russell_CHN SS
+168+ 1.36 John_Lackey_CHN PITCH
+182+ 1.24 Travis_Wood_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.07 Trevor_Cahill_CHN PITCH

On this day in 2016 Kris Bryant is almost exactly where Javier Baez is today.  Lester is almost the same.  Rizzo was better in 2016 on this day as well as Hendricks.  There is a lot of season left however and a lot of potential.

Right now the code to display daily snapshots of tiers and relief roster from the historical dataset is not finished.

tl;dr Cubs much better than last season and almost as good as the 2016 team except for run differential.

Blast From the Past  Part 2

This brings us to Part 2 which was the original planned feature until the Cubs got so close to the 2016 team this season.  During a discussion at the local pub, after a few beers when I had exclaimed wins and losses are meaningless for pitchers in modern baseball, someone brought up Rick Sutcliffe and his Cy Young award winning year when he went 16-1 for the Cubs and 20-6 for the season.

This model doesn’t care about wins and losses and our purpose here is simplicity.  There are lots of baseball sites on the Internet that will show back of baseball card sized tables of stats.    The most useful of all baseball sites with its easy to use navigation is baseball-reference.com.  Click on this link to bring up Rick Sutcliffe’s career.  Here is his full WAA record for the year 1984 according to this data model.

Rank WAA IP ERA Gs Gr Name_TeamID Pos
XXXXX 4.07 150.3 2.69 20 0 Rick_Sutcliffe_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.97 244.7 3.64 35 0 Rick_Sutcliffe_TOT PITCH
XXXXX -3.04 94.3 5.15 15 0 Rick_Sutcliffe_CLE PITCH

Above is his full record showing innings pitched, ERA, Games Started, and Games Relief.  Sutcliffe ended the year WAA=+4.07 with the Cubs but he’s unranked, out of the top 200 that season even though he won the Cy Young award. Unfortunately he played for the Cleveland Indians earlier in the season and racked up a lot of earned runs making him way below average at -3.04.

In golf if you shoot +9 on the front nine and -9 on the back nine you can’t just count the back.  You shot even par for the day.  This model does not give mulligans.   The Cy Young award measures things other than stats and Sutcliffe did propel the Cubs into their first playoff series in 39 years of drought.  He deserved it.  His 16-1 number showed dominance.  In the end, for analysis the WAA value stat matters.  Let’s see how Sutcliffe fared with the rest of his team that year.

1984 Top Cubs

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+006+ 6.61 Leon_Durham_CHN 1B
+020+ 5.35 Gary_Matthews_CHN LF
+026+ 4.83 Ryne_Sandberg_CHN 2B
+035+ 4.41 Ron_Cey_CHN 3B
XXXXX 4.07 Rick_Sutcliffe_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 3.07 Dennis_Eckersley_CHN PITCH
+108+ 2.44 Jody_Davis_CHN CR
+117+ 2.35 Scott_Sanderson_CHN PITCH
+120+ 2.31 Keith_Moreland_CHN RF-1B
+148+ 1.97 Steve_Trout_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.20 Mel_Hall_CHN RF
XXXXX 1.11 Warren_Brusstar_CHN PITCH

Had Sutcliffe played average in Cleveland or not played at all he would have been ranked around #44 which is very good.  Eckersley was in the same boat.  He played terribly for Boston.  That these pitchers started the season so badly is probably why they ended up with the Cubs.  Had they pitched average Cleveland and Boston wouldn’t have given them up as easily and 1984 would have been like all the other Cubs seasons.  Let’s look at the top of the league that year.

MLB Top Ten 1984

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+001+ 8.92 Tony_Armas_BOS CF-DH
+002+ 7.83 Dave_Winfield_NYA RF-CF
+003+ 7.22 Jim_Rice_BOS LF
+004+ 7.08 Dwight_Evans_BOS RF
+005+ 6.80 Mike_Schmidt_PHI 3B
+006+ 6.61 Leon_Durham_CHN 1B
+007+ 6.51 Don_Mattingly_NYA 1B-LF
+008+ 6.51 Bruce_Sutter_SLN PITCH
+009+ 6.40 Mike_Boddicker_BAL PITCH
+010+ 6.26 Dwight_Gooden_NYN PITCH

Looks like plop plop fizz fizz oh what a relief it is Bruce Sutter was the best pitcher that year — and he played for the Cardinals!  It is very rare for a reliever to finish in the top ten.  Sutter was followed by Boddicker and Gooden who were the top three pitchers in MLB that year.  Good pitching was weak that season with only three pitchers in the top ten.  Below were the top ten MLB pitchers in 1984.

Top Ten Pitchers 1984

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+008+ 6.51 Bruce_Sutter_SLN PITCH
+009+ 6.40 Mike_Boddicker_BAL PITCH
+010+ 6.26 Dwight_Gooden_NYN PITCH
+011+ 6.05 Alejandro_Pena_LAN PITCH
+012+ 6.05 Willie_Hernandez_DET PITCH
+013+ 5.88 Dave_Stieb_TOR PITCH
+017+ 5.77 Rick_Rhoden_PIT PITCH
+022+ 5.14 Bert_Blyleven_CLE PITCH
+023+ 5.08 Charlie_Lea_WAS PITCH
+025+ 4.98 Orel_Hershiser_LAN PITCH

Not much else to say about the above.  Willie Hernandez won AL Cy Young.  He’s in the top two for AL pitchers that year according to this data model.  Sutter finished third, Gooden second in NL voting, not too different than what’s shown above.

tl;dr Sutcliffe deserved the Cy Young for his Cubs’ performance in 1984 and his contribution  galvanizing that team, all attributes difficult to measure  Wins and losses are meaningless as a value stat however.

That is all for now and perhaps until baseball starts up again.  Until then ….