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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Monday, July 29, 2019

Taking the current temperature

Starting a new thread, as it’s way overdue.  I’m not sure I have that many original thoughts, so I’m going to steal some comments from the last thread here.

First thing on my mind is the ridiculous home/road splits.  I haven’t updated these since I originally posted them before the Brewers series, but nothing has really changed and the 2 losses fit the general theme.  The Cubs are 10 under .500 on the road; if they were just .500 on the road they’d have a 5 game lead in the division instead of being tied with the Cards.

They hit essentially the same on the road as at home - .785OPS at home, .790 on the road - but the pitching is *significantly* worse, in virtually every way. I can never get these tables to look right, but:

HOME: 3.36 ERA, 1.185WHIP, 8.7k/9, 2.9bb/9, 1.1hr/9, .233/.300/.384 line against
ROAD: 4.86 ERA, 1.451WHIP, 8.4k/9, 3.8bb/9, 1.3hr/9, .266/.343/.448 line against

The Cubs do hit more HRs on the road than home (12 more in about 50ABs), but walk less to cancel it out in OPS. So I don’t think this is just a case of extreme park factors. I have no idea what would explain this (every team is stealing signs against them everywhere but Wrigley? the pitchers are always drunk on the road?).

Second, we’ve talked quite a bit about the holes on the team.  I never really considered “leadoff hitter” as a hole, or even a position, but I’ve been rethinking that quite a bit lately.  Cubs leadoff hitters this year are hitting a putrid .218/.289/.399; only the 9th spot in the order is hitting worse.  Some of that is because the Cubs really don’t have a typical guy to put there, though I’ve made the argument before that Heyward should go there.  Of course, he’s not really hitting this month again anyway (.282/.311/.705), so maybe that’s a bad suggestion.  I wonder why he hasn’t done it more (he’s done it 6 games, which is 6 more than I remember - and didn’t do #### in those 6 with a .383OPS), perhaps he just doesn’t like doing it.  Garcia is just as bad of a fit as Schwarber, and I understand not rushing to put Happ back up there so soon after bringing him back.  Maybe it’s time for Rizzo to spend a couple of weeks there again.

I’m glad Garcia is up and playing pretty regularly, but it’s also becoming clear that he probably isn’t an everyday guy.  His defense is only so-so at best, and he’s such a free swinger that he’s always going to struggle against certain types of pitchers.  If Bote were hitting lefties, perhaps that’s an ideal platoon.  Since he’s not, I’d guess the Cubs are still looking to add someone who can at least play there part time.  Walt listed a few guys*, but Sogard may have been the best option and he went to TB instead.  So now I’m eyeing Hanser Alberto; he’d be cheap, but the draw here is the multiple positions and he’s hitting .404/.413/.529 vs LHP.  That’s assuredly a fluke, but it kinda fits a need and he’s still likely to be better than Descalso the rest of the year.  I still would guess the Cubs end up with Castellanos for RF, just because there aren’t any other great option (Dyson would also be fine).  The problem here is that there really aren’t any great options that really move the needle.

*Rojas 2.4/1.2 88
Sogard 1.9/0.9 126
Dietrich 1.7/0.9 122
AFrazier 1.5/0.3 93
Galvis 1.5/0.2 98
Alberto 1.3/0.2 97 (on the O’s, 26 years old)
GGarcia 1.0/0.3 102 (on Pads)
Iglesias 1.0/-0.1 78

Which means, the Cubs probably do end up overpaying for another decent RP.  I also kinda think they have to, what with so many guy punch 7th/8th inning blown leads.  I’m not going to be happy about it, and maybe this team isn’t worth adding another guy for, but I’d hate to see what would happen if that’s the reason the Cubs lose a playoff game, or worse, series.

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 29, 2019 at 11:03 AM | 387 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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Page 2 of 4 pages  < 1 2 3 4 > 
   101. Howie Menckel Posted: August 06, 2019 at 10:03 AM (#5868698)
Cub bump
   102. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 06, 2019 at 10:09 AM (#5868700)
Cubs are looking like they're going to run away with the NL Central.
   103. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 06, 2019 at 10:27 AM (#5868706)
They've looked like they should all year, at least IMHO. For whatever reason though, they turn into the Marlins or Orioles on the road (they have basically the same road record as those 2 teams) while they're almost the Astros or Dodgers at home. It's maddening.
   104. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 06, 2019 at 10:40 AM (#5868707)
Jon Heyman @JonHeyman ·14h

Cubs are considering Jonathan Lucroy. With Contreras out, there’s a need.


He's really fallen off a cliff, both offensively and defensively* it looks like. Not to mention that bad concussion from the collision last month. He's been a negative WAR player last year and this one so far. But he does seem like the type of guy the Cubs would go after, and I really don't think the Cubs are comfortable with Davis as the backup for a whole month (not to mention they probably don't want to see Caratini back there every day that long either**), so considering the options out there I'll go on the record and say I'll be surprised if they pick a different backup than him (it's always possible he chooses somewhere else). Who knows, maybe they get lucky with him.

*A lot of which I believe was framing related.
**Maldonado started 4 of the 11 games he was here, which was a higher ratio than I predicted. It'll be interesting to see which catcher gets Lester tonight.
   105. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 06, 2019 at 11:46 AM (#5868728)
Kemp for Maldanado. Make it happen!

I was listening to the ninth inning on the radio last night, which was probably a good thing because the way the ball was carrying all night, that ball hit by Semien definitely looked gone.
   106. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 06, 2019 at 12:11 PM (#5868756)
Oh, there was no doubt in my mind that last out was going to be a HR. He sure seemed to square it up more than Javy did on Javy's 2nd HR.

It sounds like Kintzler may have gone out for the 9th if he wasn't hurt (he only threw 9 pitches in the 8th), but I also think Ryan should be given more chances in those spots. So should Wick, but he also came in for a pretty big spot in the 7th. I think Maddon maybe could have pushed Hendricks a little further than he did, but I also was fine with him being pulled there. Assuming Cishek didn't #### the bed, Kintzler would have probably had the 9th.

I'd like to see Underwood get a shot soon, but I'm sure Joe is looking for an easy spot to use him. If Kintzler goes on the IL, there isn't an obvious replacement in AAA at the moment:
Cubs Prospects - Bryan Smith @cubprospects ·12h

Guys in IA pen, last 6 wks.

Brooks: 17.2 IP, 16 H, 5.09 ERA, 11 BB, 28 K
Norwood: 16.1 IP, 11 H, 4.96 ERA, 9 BB, 27 K
Maples, since demotion: 12.2 IP, 9 H, 4.97 ERA, 12 BB, 22 K
Mekkes: 11.1 IP, 12 H, 9.53 ERA, 16 BB, 16 K
Rosario, since demotion: 6 IP, 10 H, 9.00 ERA, 4 Bb, 6 K


Maybe Norwood, maybe Mills as a RP. I guess they could try Alzolay too, but I'm sure they'd like him to start some more to know whether or not he's a real option to be a 5th SP next year. Actually, now that I type this, I think Alzolay would be my top choice because he's maybe the most likely to actually stick in that role down the stretch/playoffs and could go back to starting again next year.
   107. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 06, 2019 at 12:13 PM (#5868759)
Kemp for Maldanado. Make it happen!

Sure, that's the obvious joke, but really Maldonado never made sense in the first place when everyone was healthy, unless the Cubs wanted Caratini catching more regularly in AAA. I'm fine with Kemp as a bench part anyway, and I doubt there's really that big of a difference between whoever the Cubs pick up and whatever starts Maldonado would have gotten in the next month+ anyway.
   108. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 06, 2019 at 12:22 PM (#5868766)
Cubs are considering Jonathan Lucroy. With Contreras out, there’s a need.
Agreed with Moses in 104. I hope this is "considering" like "Rob Manfred considering effective measures to improve the pace of play" considering, but I have a feeling that it's more like "Trump considering tweeting something stupid and obnoxious" considering.
   109. Brian C Posted: August 06, 2019 at 01:57 PM (#5868831)
I was listening to the ninth inning on the radio last night, which was probably a good thing because the way the ball was carrying all night, that ball hit by Semien definitely looked gone.

I was in section 411 - or technically "411L" - so I had a good read of the angle right off the bat. And it looked ... close! I thought it was a bit short right away, but couldn't tell for sure. I was glad Happ was out there, though - I'm OK with Schwarber's defense for the most part, but he does seem to get a little yipsy close to the wall.

Happ's and Javy's first homers though ... damn. I've seen some bombs in my day but I don't think I've ever seen two in one game like that. The Wrigley board said Happ's was the longest hit by a Cub this year.
   110. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 06, 2019 at 03:15 PM (#5868875)
The not Pat Hughes PBP guy reacted like it was absolutely a home run, so that didn't help. He also made it sound like Happ's catch was a lot hairier than it actually was. That notwithstanding, I too was glad to see anyone but Schwarber out there to make such a critical play.

   111. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 06, 2019 at 03:18 PM (#5868880)
I was watching on TV, and my first reaction was absolutely that Marcus F-ing Semien had hit his third home run of the day against my fantasy team.
   112. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 06, 2019 at 04:19 PM (#5868901)
Heyward
Castellanos LF
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Almora
Bote
Caratini
Lester

Brett Anderson tonight; almost forgot about his horrible cameo here with the Cubs. Is this the first time Caratini has caught Lester? No one on the A's looks like a big base stealing threat, but I imagine we could see them try and run on him tonight without Contreras back there. Also, I know Almora has had a few hits lately, but I'm still not buying his bat.
   113. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 06, 2019 at 06:57 PM (#5868941)
Kintzler to IL and Strop back. I don't remember heatabout Pedro being ready or close to ready. This isn't reassuring, either part of this.
   114. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 06, 2019 at 09:28 PM (#5868984)
Jon Lester tonight:

Game Score: 3

That's the third worst of his career. Worst as a Cub.
   115. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 06, 2019 at 09:44 PM (#5868987)
I'm not even at this one, he has no excuse.
   116. Howie Menckel Posted: August 06, 2019 at 10:59 PM (#5868999)
fyi
the Mets won
again
   117. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 07, 2019 at 11:21 AM (#5869076)
Today's Cubs 9...

1. Heyward CF
2. Castellanos RF
3. Bryant 3B
4. Rizzo 1B
5. Baez SS
6. Schwarber LF
7. Happ 2B
8. Caratini C
9. Quintana SP

Happ's first MLB start at 2B since Sept. 19, 2017.


I approve.
   118. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 07, 2019 at 11:21 AM (#5869077)
116- no one here cares
   119. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 07, 2019 at 02:55 PM (#5869235)
AUGUST 7:
1884 Cubs sell Fred Goldsmith to Baltimore
1894 Bill Dahlen's then record 42 game hitting streak ends as he goes 0-for-6
1911 Joe Tinker hits 1B, 2B, & 3B against Christy Mathewson. Also steals home. Cubs 8, Giants 6
1921 CHC replace Johnny Evers as manager w/ Bill Killefer
1970 Billy Williams is supposed to end his consecutive games played streak today, but called into service as pinch hitter in the 9th. Gm #1,093
1980 Cubs give 15K Dave Kingman T-shirts at Wrigley. Kingman doesn't show up - instead at festival for a fee to promo Jet Ski
1987 Ryne Sandberg. 872 games
2001 Steve "Mongo" McMichael ejected at Wrigley for insulting the ump during 7th inning strech. Ump: Angel Hernandez
2004 300 wins: Greg Maddux
2017 Don Baylor dies at age 68
   120. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 07, 2019 at 03:19 PM (#5869252)
116- no one here cares

Are you not baseball fans?
   121. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 07, 2019 at 03:23 PM (#5869254)
Len and JD are reporting that the inevitable Jonathan LuCroy signing is happening.
   122. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 07, 2019 at 06:12 PM (#5869317)
Cubs will pay Lucroy the prorated league minimum the rest of the year. Angels pay the rest.

Now for that most dangerous moment of the Cubs season - they go on the road. Eventually, they got to win a road series. Since the conclusion of play on May 26, they are 8-22 on the road, and 24-9 at home. That's a pretty odd way to go 32-31.
   123. Red Voodooin Posted: August 07, 2019 at 06:14 PM (#5869318)
Even if he is pretty much toast as a hitter or as a regular catcher, it's still a nice stroke of fortune to be able to grab a backup C off the scrap heap who has extensive experience catching both Darvish and Hamels.
   124. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 07, 2019 at 07:11 PM (#5869334)
He's probably better than Davis. I just hope Joe doesn't play him more than Caratini.

Happ better get most of the time at 2b now. He looked fine today, wasn't really challenged though.
   125. Walt Davis Posted: August 07, 2019 at 11:56 PM (#5869411)
Hi, remember me, the guy who whinged about the need for a new thread? :-)

Even if he is pretty much toast as a hitter or as a regular catcher, it's still a nice stroke of fortune to be able to grab a backup C off the scrap heap

Ahh for 20/20 hindsight ... earlier this year Howie's beloved Mets released d'Arnaud. He was in such demand that the Dodgers were able to grab him. Then 5 days later, they sold him to the Rays. Now 1.1 WAR, 0.4 WAA and a 133 OPS+. That was back in early May but still mildly surprised the Cubs didn't grab him and send Caratini down (just cuz the Cubs don't seem that faithful with Caratini). Alas, he'd be close to perfect right now.

I do wonder if teams are learning a lesson this year and will focus more on org depth at next year's deadline. Probably not, this sort of thing used to happen in Sept instead of Aug -- but the Cubs are scrambling for relievers and a C; the Mets are scrambling for a 2B or OF. Slim pickings for the next 7 weeks. If this was last year, they'd both have concluded some waiver trade by now.
   126. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 08, 2019 at 12:14 AM (#5869415)
I just hope Joe doesn't play him more than Caratini.
Call me cynical, but...
   127. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 08, 2019 at 12:25 PM (#5869544)
Theo Epstein radio interview on WSCR with Bernstein & McKnight:


THEO: Nice homestand, but not gonna start patting ourselves on our back. No one feels we've made real progress until we have a good road trip. Played well at home, but have to prove it on the road.

QUESTION: On deadline deals - Why Lucroy? THEO: Veteran presence. Think there's some baseball in him. Competitive at bats. Makes contact. Knows how to run a game and handle a pitching staff. Stabilizes thing. And he was available.

QUESTION: What can you do differently on the road? THEO: Struggle on the road was part of the reason we wanted to be more active at the trade deadline. Wanted to change the mix a bit, because we're repeating the same pattern with the same personal. Change the environment a bit, too. Looking at the right kind of personality. Guys who were hungry. Guys who were vocal. Guys who can enhance the clubhouse. Maddon made a comment about the Tiger guy saying he reminds people what it's like to be hungry. Not meant as a criticism of anyone. Sometimes it's hard to do that with the status quo. You have to give it a jolt sometimes. Helped change the environment at the homestead.

QUESTION: Tiger Guy doesn't like watching video. -- THEO: Doesn't matter how someone gets ready as long as they get ready. Video can be counterproductive. Some guys might watch too much video. Tiger Guy and Kemp are both among the first guys in the clubhouse. Tiger Guy does prep work in the weight room. I wouldn't look too much into video with Tiger Guy. Be self-aware. Create a customized routine. He's brought a real sense of hunger. I don't want to overstate it.

QUESTION: Sounds like you looked beyond bat profile with Tiger Guy. Are you thinking of any long term. THEO: Not thinking of long term now. Looking at the stretch run. The division could come down to one game, one run, 90 feet, like it did last year. We're not ruling anything out or anything in. It's all about 2019, not beyond.

QUESTION: Ian Happ's had success since coming back. In interviews, he said of AAA - 'the org wanted me to do this.' not 'I did this' - THEO: There's no division whatsoever. We're completely on the same page. The communication has been great. Elite athletes come with a type of personality and competitive spirit. Not many are gonna want to go down. He probably feels we overreacted sending him down, and I respect that. It's our job to listen to him. It's also my job to make a decision. I felt it was best for the club and him to send him down in a place better suited for his development. No one's declaring victory or anything. He was a great team player, his attitude was great. He perservered through a lot of problems and struggles in the first few months down there. I also want to credit our player development staff.

QUESTION: Bullpen has injuries. How's the injuries change bullpen management? THEO: The exception is when things are rolling in the bullpen. That's maybe 1-2 weeks all year. More common is when you need a lot of discussion. You're engaged with injuries, usage, guys developing in AAA. This is more the norm. Remember the big questions heading in, and we were transparent that there were questions. We knew we needed depth - need help from AAA, feel we've had that with Kyle Ryan. Next up from AAA Rowan Wick. And it's early obviously, but Underwood converted to the bullpen six weeks ago. Rough first outing in the 'pen in AAA, but really established himself since then. Obviously, Kinzler with the bounce back. Maddon done a nice job. Now we probably face our biggest challenge yet with all our injuries.

QUESTION: MVP Machine stuff. How much is fad and how much is new operating procedure? THEO: Not a bad. Proven effective technique. We don't broadcast it all the time, not to our advantage. Not a cure-all. As pitchers make adjustments individuals - the whole industry adjusts - you're seeing people learning how to combat the high fastball or lay off one out of the zone. Now sinkers like Kinzler more effective. A constant push/pull in how it works. Got to stay ahead of the trend. Other thing is you have to stay versitile. Everything can change, so have to go different directions.

QUESTION: Check on some players: Zobrist. And Kimbrel & Kinzler - 10 days for both? THEO: Both are expected to be back on schedule. Both on schedule. Work to be on those two guys. With Zobrist, it's the schedule he's laid out, subject to change. He'll play 3 games at a time, then take some time along, continue his workouts & recovery & be there for his family. Works where he is in his personal situation and rehab process. Subject to change as we get closer.
   128. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 08, 2019 at 12:31 PM (#5869548)
Well, I think Caratini will probably continue to catch Darvish, since they appear to have developed some sort of rapport. LuCroy probably gets Lester - not that the other night can be blamed on Caratini or that Lester would do that (Lester seems to have at least one of those games annually). I'd guess Hamels goes to LuCroy (and that LuCroy probably starts tonight). Quintana and Hendricks both seem pretty flexible and go vary based on the other teams pitcher.

So maybe only 40% LuCroy is optimistic and 60% is the worst case.
   129. Greg Pope Posted: August 08, 2019 at 12:42 PM (#5869556)
Now for that most dangerous moment of the Cubs season - they go on the road. Eventually, they got to win a road series. Since the conclusion of play on May 26, they are 8-22 on the road, and 24-9 at home. That's a pretty odd way to go 32-31.

Is the home-road record just a weird fluke or is there some reason behind it?
   130. Brian C Posted: August 08, 2019 at 01:37 PM (#5869570)
Is the home-road record just a weird fluke or is there some reason behind it?

Seems pretty random and fluky to me. It's frustrating as all hell, of course, but I'm not convinced that there's anything that can actually be done about it. It's mostly close games they're losing.
   131. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 08, 2019 at 01:59 PM (#5869578)
Yeah, the bad pen contributes to it, but it's not that simple. The road Cubs are on pace to be a 63 win team, the home 111; pythag is a little closer with 104 for the home Cubs and 82 for road Cubs.

I've given the splits before, but the pitching is so, so much worse on the road -

Home: 3.35ERA, 8.9k/9, 2.8bb/9, 1.1hr/9. .233/.298/.384 against. 3.8 runs/game
Road: 4.73ERA, 8.5k/9, 3.7bb/9, 1.3hr/9. .264/.340/.441 against. 4.9 runs/game

Hell, even HBP and WP are much higher on the road than at home.

The hitting has separated a bit since last time I posted the numbers -

Home: .263/.344/.463, 22.6Krate, 10.2BBrate, 3.9HRrate. 5.0 runs/game
Road: .245/.321/.422, 24.7Krate, 8.8BBrate, 4.3HRrate. 4.9 runs/game

I agree that is probably mostly flukey and there's nothing obvious that can be done about it.
   132. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 08, 2019 at 04:12 PM (#5869629)
Heyward RF
Castellanos LF
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Almora
Happ 2b
Lucroy
Hamels


   133. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 08, 2019 at 04:17 PM (#5869631)
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian ·32m

The Cubs’ home white jerseys are hanging in the lockers in Cincinnati.


Heh. Sure, why not.

---

Brach signs with the Mets, which makes any Mets content here relevant for the split second it takes you to read this sentence.
   134. Walt Davis Posted: August 08, 2019 at 10:16 PM (#5869725)
Holy crap!

I'm not worried about jinxing things because this guarantees the apocalypse is just around the corner anyway ...

while we've all noticed the Hottovy (sp?) miracle of reduced BB rates ...

after today's performance....

over his last 13.1 IP ...

Tyler Chatwood has 3 BB

Burn the witch!
   135. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 08, 2019 at 10:31 PM (#5869735)
Castellanos usage update - he's started all 8 games since the trade (5 RHP, 3 LHP). On the other hand, he's also 14/33 in that stretch, with 6 2B and 3 HR (.879 SLG), so I can understand maybe riding the hot hand a bit.
   136. Walt Davis Posted: August 08, 2019 at 11:37 PM (#5869746)
Hope for Almora?

Somebody here has probably pointed this out and I missed/forgot/ignored it but happened to peruse Albert's b-r page today and he's carrying a 259 BABIP this year. It was 334 coming into the year and while that might be higher than he can sustain, 259 is crazy low, especially for a GB hitter. I won't say it's all bad luck but an extra 40 points of BABIP to get him back to league average gives him 9 more hits, probably an extra double -- nothing earth-shattering but a line of 274/305/439 would be an 89 OPS+ which would probably keep him around league average. Another way to put it is that turning 9 outs into 8 singles and a double should add 7-8 runs which would still leave him below-average overall for the year but distinctly above replacement. And of course if his "true" BABIP is above-average then those numbers jump up a bit more.

Other peripherals are about the same -- Ks, BBs, career-best HR/FB, career-worst LD%, career-high G/F but not out of whack. Also Rfield puts him at average this year -- which I can't really contradict but I haven't been able to see many games this year. If anything, statcast rates him even worse. Certainly if he's an average defender from now on, he has no value beyond a 4th OF at best but I'm more hopeful about the offense than I was and hope the defense will bounce back to.
   137. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 09, 2019 at 09:34 AM (#5869780)
The Cubs have tied their season-best (so far) by making it to 11 games over .500. They were also there on May 14 (25-14).

(looks at it for a few seconds more). Huh. The May 14th win that put them over .500 was also against the Reds. In Cincinnati. In the first game of a series. That began a road trip. Doesn't mean anything obviously - but kinda neat how that lines up.
   138. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 09, 2019 at 01:46 PM (#5869878)
To my eye, Almora's defense has been fine this year. He's clearly better than Heyward in CF. I personally don't have a lot of hope for his bat. His approach is terrible, I don't think he has any sort of eye at the plate, he's not *that* fast, and he doesn't really hit the ball that hard or in the air enough. The HR spike this year has been pretty surprising to me, but I'm not complaining about it.
   139. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 09, 2019 at 03:29 PM (#5869925)
Szym wrote about the NL Central race today.

---

I hope everyone saw this last night.

"I was kind of nervous, but I wanted to swing so bad," Baez said. "I tried to wait for it, but it just never got there, and I kind of got jammed a little bit, because I was waiting too much."


I mean, he's describing all of his ABs right?
   140. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 09, 2019 at 04:01 PM (#5869937)
Heyward
Castellanos
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Happ
Schwarber
Caratini
Darvish

I really like this lineup, add Contreras back in there and yeah, that's pretty good.
   141. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 09, 2019 at 04:16 PM (#5869948)
Javy's lefty swing looked pretty damn good. Could be the new frontier of Javying.
   142. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 09, 2019 at 05:06 PM (#5869973)
Ryan to bereavement list, Mills up. I thought it was weird he pitched multiple innings last night.
   143. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 09, 2019 at 05:14 PM (#5869977)
Ryan to bereavement list, Mills up. I thought it was weird he pitched multiple innings last night.
I just thought Joe had decided maybe he could quit the managering when they put a position player in to pitch. But what was I thinking, surely Joe wouldn't do that.

So they must have pitched him multiple innings and then had his grandfather killed.
   144. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 09, 2019 at 05:42 PM (#5869982)
My book review of Ten Innings at Wrigley, a book about the 23-22 game from 1979.

Short version: Meh.
   145. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 10, 2019 at 05:14 PM (#5870201)
August 10:
1859 Larry Corcoran, pitcher,born
1909 Ed Reulbach wins 14th straight
1912 Johnny Evers pushes ump Bill Finneran after he challenges Evers to fight under the stands after a game
1930 1,000 hits: Hack Wilson
1957 MLB debut: Milt Pappas (with Baltimore)
1969 Don Sutton ends his 13-game losing streak. LAD 4, CHC 2
1981 100 homers: Expos slugger Andre Dawson
2001 Lou Boudreau dies
2002 Sammy Sosa hits 3 HR in one game for a record-tying 6th time. 9 RBI
2006 last game: Mark Prior
2011 CHC unveil statue of Ron Santo outside Wrigley Field




   146. Walt Davis Posted: August 11, 2019 at 04:29 AM (#5870273)
To be clear, I don't have any hope for Almora as in "one day he'll actually learn to hit." But his approach is not much different than in previous years but BABIP (a fluky stat) has cratered. A BABIP shift to league average makes him useful, somewhere around 315 or so is probably good enough to start 120 games, his previous career average of 330 would put him back to average or better overall -- all assuming still a plus defender. Basically there's a reasonable chance he's still the guy we expected at season's start and it's just been bad BABIP luck.
   147. Spahn Insane Posted: August 11, 2019 at 11:14 AM (#5870296)
I took the liberty of loudly booing Almora at GAB last night after his pathetic inning ending strikeout on a pitch two feet outside, to the amusement of the surrounding Reds fans.
   148. Walt Davis Posted: August 11, 2019 at 11:39 PM (#5870436)
Russell at AAA (just over 100 PA now): 262/359/476, K-rate around 20%. Looks solid enough but team average is 258/338/445 and that includes some pitchers batting. So Phillip Evans, Dixon Machado, Zagunis and of course Robel all have better lines. While I'm pretty confident he'll be non-tendered, I'm less confident they won't sign him after the non-tender and I suppose he's a potential CF candidate for next year. Not a good one, hard to see why he'd be better than Almora, just thinking ahead ... and assuming that the mediocre deadline CF options are probably pretty similar to the offseason options meaning I don't hold out much hope for improved CF next year.
   149. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2019 at 01:49 AM (#5870445)
2002 Sammy Sosa hits 3 HR in one game for a record-tying 6th time. 9 RBI

I peeked at this a couple of weeks ago. He tied the record of Johnny Mize and he never got his 7th. Mookie Betts leads among active players with 5, so a good shot at the record. Trout has never done it.

The recent barrage of 3-HR games has moved 2019 up to 18 (not including Sun), one off of 2016 and 4 shy of the all-time in 2001. However, by rate, it looks like the 12 in 1950 is the best ... roughly 23-24 pro-rated to today's number of team-games, pretty much identical to this year.
   150. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 12, 2019 at 10:34 AM (#5870501)
To be clear, I don't have any hope for Almora as in "one day he'll actually learn to hit." But his approach is not much different than in previous years but BABIP (a fluky stat) has cratered. A BABIP shift to league average makes him useful, somewhere around 315 or so is probably good enough to start 120 games, his previous career average of 330 would put him back to average or better overall -- all assuming still a plus defender. Basically there's a reasonable chance he's still the guy we expected at season's start and it's just been bad BABIP luck.

I think, based on how he hits and what he swings at, that his current BABIP is more indicative of the player he is than his career rate - that higher number seems luckier to me than where he is now, if that makes sense. In previous years, he seemed like the guy that got the most bloop hits that found a spot than anyone else on the team; it never feels like he hits the ball hard and I can't recall very many loud outs. I know this is all based on my likely faulty memory, but anytime he seems to be on a good stretch it never feels like it'll last.

Maybe this is the future CF, though obviously not next year (or probably not the year after). Russell might be ok as a CF (I do think a strength of his is playing pop ups), but he's also not exactly a fast guy so whether he takes to it or not would depend on his instincts adjusting to the move. Considering he's so good at IF though, I highly doubt anyone would really consider moving him there anytime soon. I think Happ is our CF next year.
   151. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 12, 2019 at 10:43 AM (#5870503)
One of the many (MANY, MANY) reasons I'd be a terrible baseball executive is that I probably would have fired Maddon during the game Saturday. I don't really know if I think he should be fired or not, but another one of those losses (ones where he says to burn the tape or whatever) is just too much. There have been way, way too many of those this year. Where the pitching and offense both completely no show. I don't even know if that is something that's the manager's fault or not, but I sure would enjoy the temporary satisfaction of making someone pay for that.

To top that off, you have Maddon saying #### like this before the game yesterday (so right after that total sleepwalk of a game):
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian ·22h

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he's optimism about being re-signed remains "very high." Doesn't expect the team's decision to come down to wins and losses. Maddon: "It's about interactions."


I dunno. I still say it's a long shot he's back, but he would have a better idea than me.

   152. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: August 12, 2019 at 10:52 AM (#5870512)
OK - I've given Thed plenty of grief of late in all elements of their roster/org work....

But I seriously do not understand why people are more ready to show Joe the door than Thed. Joe certainly has the capability to annoy me substantially on any given day, but all managers do that.... and the fact is that Joe's record as a Cub is ACTUALLY better than Thed's.

Despite my recent bashing of the FO's ineptitude drafting, poor trades/FA signings, and dumb roster construction moves - I'm not eager to see anyone canned.

But if I had the choice of retaining ONLY Maddon or the FO?

I think I'd take Joe.
   153. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 12, 2019 at 10:55 AM (#5870517)
I maintain my current opinion of Castellanos's defense as adequate so far. He has yet to look like a guy with the horrible numbers/rep coming in. He even has now made a plus play. Happ also has been completely fine at 2b so far. I've honestly yet to see either not make a play that I think an average guy in that position should make regularly. At the same time, I also think moving everyone around to make the defense as good as possible late in games where the Cubs are winning is still the best move (so you go from Happ 2b, Castellanos RF, Heyward CF, Schwarber LF to Bote 2b, Heyward RF, Almora CF, Happ LF).

I've already seen it come up in a couple different spots, but I do wonder if the Cubs would consider trying to keep Castellanos this offseason. The FA class sucks, which would be a reason his contract could end up being an overpay. He makes more sense than keeping Murphy last year would have been. Maybe it means the Cubs do finally end up moving Schwarber to NC goes to LF full time. The Cubs have a ton of money coming off the books (Hamels, Zobrist, Morrow, Cishek, Kintzler, Strop gives you over $55mil), even with the higher arb charges. They might resign some of those guys, and will throw more money into the bullpen again, but there isn't a ton else to spend on. I'd hope they wouldn't try to reduce the tax bill, not after they just spend so much time talking about how Marquee will give them more money. I don't want to just waste money, but it could be a fit.

---

I remain disappointed in Maples, yet cautiously optimistic that one day he'll figure it out. But I'll repeat what I texted Spahn - I think the Astros would have turned Maples into a dominant closer by now were he in their org.

Wick has been a helluva find, and honestly he should continue to get high leverage chances when everyone is back healthy. I want to see more Underwood to see if he's worth giving a shot to. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but they should also use Chatwood more.
   154. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 12, 2019 at 10:56 AM (#5870518)
But if I had the choice of retaining ONLY Maddon or the FO?

I think I'd take Joe.


You're crazy.

the fact is that Joe's record as a Cub is ACTUALLY better than Thed's.

And this is an intentionally stupid statement.
   155. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 12, 2019 at 11:11 AM (#5870526)
Chicago's regular season record under Maddon is 451-315 (.589). Their postseason record is 19-18.

I wonder if any manager has had a comparable record of success with a team and was let go or fired. There was Dusty with the Giants, but Maddon actually won a World Series.
   156. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 12, 2019 at 11:24 AM (#5870535)
I wonder if any manager has had a comparable record of success with a team and was let go or fired.

The Yankees let Casey Stengel go after the 1960 World Series. For that matter, the Yankees let Joe Torre go. Officially, he departed, but only after the Yankees gave him a contract offer they knew he'd reject.

I mean, Mike Matheny made it to three straight LCSs, never had a losing record in the regular season, and was fired mid-season last year. Don Mattingly won three straight division titles with the Dodger right before they fired him.

   157. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 12, 2019 at 12:17 PM (#5870557)
Officially, he departed, but only after the Yankees gave him a contract offer they knew he'd reject.

If I had to, this is my prediction for how it plays out. Others have pointed out before that the trend in baseball recently hasn't been to pay managers as much as Joe is making.

To reiterate, I'm not saying the Cubs should fire him or move on. I do think we tend to underrate all the stuff Joe is really good at because it's the stuff we can't see - players tend to love him. At the same time, Joe increasingly does come across more and more as a guy who is behind the times. If him and the FO are clashing at all over player usage or development, I don't think the FO would be wrong to move on from him. I don't think many of us here would disagree that he seems to have gotten worse/struggled with some of the on-field stuff over the years (the WS is a big one, but just everyday RP usage or PT allocation or even the lineup*). If the FO feels like there is enough talent and that the team is underachieving, there is some value to a new voice or structure.

Even with acknowledging all the mistakes the FO has made, I still think changing managers before changing FOs is the way to go.

*IOW, all the stuff we tend to overrate.
   158. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: August 12, 2019 at 12:39 PM (#5870570)

the fact is that Joe's record as a Cub is ACTUALLY better than Thed's.

And this is an intentionally stupid statement.


I don't think it is at all - it takes advantage of selective endpoints, but they are selective endpoints that simply fit the actual endpoints of their Cub employment.

However, you mention "behind the times" -- and I would argue that the FO has looked far (far) worse in this regard than Joe. Again.... the drafting has been utter #### for 3-4 years now (indeed - you can go back even further if you normalize the 1st rounder credit).... the trading has been shitty - at least, they've overpaid/paid clear premiums while other teams appear to be operating under different paradigms.... and the FA signings have been poor (again - some of which I loved, too -- but others I hated.... Descalso and Morrow just to name two).

I don't see Joe making any more (or fewer, to be fair) tactical decisions than any other manager.... The Cubs haven't gotten in on the opener game - but their staff makeup isn't really conducive to that idea (and, I presume, Joe wouldn't give it a shot without the FO -- not to mention at least Hamels and Lester, probably Q, Hendricks, and even Darvish if he gets a vote - weighing in).

Now... I can see arguments for not re-upping Joe from tied for highest paid manager in baseball to something 1.25 times highest paid manager in baseball (although the reality is that the cost of that is basically Descalso's contract).

But the thing is - I'm rather lacking in confidence at the moment that 'freeing up' 2-3 mil by hiring someone else for 2020 would be well-spent anyway.

When I look at the course of this dynasty - and it deserves to be called a dynasty, much to the credit of everyone involved - the creakiness and worn-out look I see at the moment (a moment when the Cubs are still leading the division by a couple games) emanates more from FO failures than dugout failures... Given that it seems that the FO has virtually total control over the coaching staff (to the extent one thinks that matters much), you even have to put the coaching staff failures (and hey - successes if you think Hottovy deserves credit for cutting BB rates) on the FO.

I'd dearly love to see this team tack on another title or two.... but if they don't, I think that's more a factor of the FO failing to keep an assembly line of reinforcements coming since - really - 2016 or so.
   159. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 12, 2019 at 03:08 PM (#5870643)
I don't think it is at all - it takes advantage of selective endpoints, but they are selective endpoints that simply fit the actual endpoints of their Cub employment.


But it has absolutely nothing to do with evaluating their work today; they were hired to do different things at different times. I don't think either of us really has interest in rehashing the whole rebuild discussion; regardless of where we each come down on it no one can seriously say with a straight face that Maddon has been better at his job than the FO because of their respective W-L records.

Additionally, if the Cubs were to move on from Maddon, it won't simply be because of his W-L record - which Joe is absolutely right about. This is arguably the most successful 5 year stretch in Cubs' history, and nothing that happens between now and the end of the year (good or bad) changes that.

I don't see Joe making any more (or fewer, to be fair) tactical decisions than any other manager.... The Cubs haven't gotten in on the opener game - but their staff makeup isn't really conducive to that idea (and, I presume, Joe wouldn't give it a shot without the FO -- not to mention at least Hamels and Lester, probably Q, Hendricks, and even Darvish if he gets a vote - weighing in).

If the idea of an opener is all you can come up with here (I personally hate the opener, but yes, there's no reason one makes sense with this rotation)...

Whether I agree or not, here's a partial list of things that come to mind with Joe and being with the times or not:
1. Defensive shifting. When he started, Cubs were on the high end of ABs with shifts; they're now at the bottom. The Cubs actually shift about the same % of the time now as back then, but everyone else does more. Whether that's the FO or Joe, I don't know. I also don't know if this is a good or bad thing, but they are very much behind just about everyone else here.
2. Bullpen usage. Again, this also has to be partially the FO and them putting a premium on "proven closers" but that doesn't mean Joe has to consistently have a 7th/8th/9th inning guy and only use them in those spots. Admittedly, Joe changes that up come playoff time, but the only time I can immediately recall the FO addressing that directly was with Morrow last year and how they felt they needed to limit him to keep him healthy (whoops). Joe's "circle of trust" leads to him taking a long time accepting guys should be given higher leverage chances (Wick is actually on the fast side, but that's probably mostly because everyone else is hurt) but worse has him keep guys in those spots well past times when they shouldn't be (Strop a bunch this year, CJ is probably the best example, but it even includes guys like Duensing who were continually put in spots they continually failed in) and wearing down guys because he doesn't trust anyone else (Cishek is the best current example of this).
3. Batting order. I know this is more of a personal pet peeve than anything, but why does Almora keep ending up at the top of the batting order? Too often this year the Cubs have put their worst OBP guys at the top of the order.
4. Any time he talks about launch angle, he sounds like he's yelling at the clouds.

We used to complain all the time about how quick of a hook he had with Hendricks, but I think Kyle's proven himself enough now that it doesn't exactly fit in here; besides, I think Joe tends to let his starters go longer than most of the more "modern" guys.

Given that it seems that the FO has virtually total control over the coaching staff (to the extent one thinks that matters much), you even have to put the coaching staff failures (and hey - successes if you think Hottovy deserves credit for cutting BB rates) on the FO.

IIRC, Joe got to pick the coaches the first time (Martinez, plus the holdovers he kept) and the second time (Davis and Hickey were his choices, and he was the one who wanted to move on from Bosio), but the current ones were picked by the FO for Joe because they didn't trust him anymore.

I also don't think it's about freeing up money, as whether or not the Cubs admit it, they still are printing money and it's not like anything saved from paying Joe goes into a player contract.

If you want to make the case that Theo and Jed need to go, just make it and stop dancing around it with your usual million caveats. It's not an either/or thing here, where you have to dump them if you want to keep Joe.
   160. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 12, 2019 at 03:34 PM (#5870657)
Both Happ (16g) and Castellanos (11g) have equaled Schwarber (113g) in bWAR at 0.8, and they blew by Russell's 0.6. Kemp (9g) is halfway to Almora's (112) -0.4bWAR. CarGo finished his Cubs career at Almora's number, but in only 15 games. I don't think anyone will catch Descalso's -1.0.

Schwarber is hitting .250/.350/.625 so far in the 2nd half. The big difference for him is he's cut his Ks down a bunch from 32.9% to 15%.
Happ's K% has gone from 43.1% last year to 25% this year; that's the main thing I'll watch with him.
I don't know what's happened to Rizzo's power (only 2 HR since the AS break), but he's hitting .337/.434/.484 2nd half after .272/.384/.519 in the first. It feels like Heyward has been fine since hitting leadoff, but including the bad stretch earlier this year (which I talked about somewhere else this thread), he's still only hitting .176/.238/.378 as a leadoff guy. Maybe Rizzo is due for a spin in that spot again? I wonder if Happ ends up top again by the time the year is up.

Going back to the home/road stuff:
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian ·Aug 10

Much like the Cubs' record, Kyle Hendricks has some extreme home-road splits this year...

At Wrigley (10 starts):

1.98 ERA, .194 AVG (.543 OPS), 47 H, 6 HR, 60 K, 11 BB, 68,1 IP

On road (12 starts):

5.16 ERA, .302 AVG (.867 OPS), 76 H, 11 HR, 54 K, 16 BB, 61 IP
   161. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 12, 2019 at 04:38 PM (#5870670)
This is arguably the most successful 5 year stretch in Cubs' history

I mean... it's their most successful five-year stretch in memory. In history? You have to include all history. And the 1906-1910 Cubs won four pennants, two world titles, and set the record for all MLB for most wins in a five year period.

Whether I agree or not, here's a partial list of things that come to mind with Joe and being with the times or not:
1. Defensive shifting. When he started, Cubs were on the high end of ABs with shifts; they're now at the bottom. The Cubs actually shift about the same % of the time now as back then, but everyone else does more. Whether that's the FO or Joe, I don't know. I also don't know if this is a good or bad thing, but they are very much behind just about everyone else here.


Russell Carleton of Baseball Prospectus wrote a pretty good book a year or two ago. One of the better chapters dealt with defensive shifting. He queried the central dilemma of shifting: It's caught on to help prevent runs, but BABIP hasn't gone down, and there's no evidence that it's hurt run scoring. He looked into it and found two unexpected results: 1) pitchers throw more balls when shifting goes on, leading to better counts for hitters and more walks, and 2) pitchers surrender more hard hit balls when shifting occurs behind them.

It's not like Maddon is unaware of shifting. The first team to really go heavily in with shifting was the Rays when he managed them.

2. Bullpen usage.

I heard Maddon give a radio interview where he was asked point blank what's the manager's most important job while running the club. His answer: manage the bullpen. More than any other strategy thing or clubhouse thing, the most important part of the job is handling the bullpen. So any problems he has doing that -- that's all the more legit a concern with him.

3. Batting order. I know this is more of a personal pet peeve than anything, but why does Almora keep ending up at the top of the batting order? Too often this year the Cubs have put their worst OBP guys at the top of the order.

Almora has led off 14 times this year. (And he's never been slotted in the #2 hole). Of those 14 times, five have come since May 10. Three of them were right in a row - July 17 through July 20 (the 18th was an off-day).

Early this year, Maddon kept putting Almora or Descalso in the #1 slot. But either Heyward or Schwarber has batted leadoff 71 of the last 82 games. Five times with Almora. Robel Garcia did it three games in a row. Baez, Rizzo & Contreras once each. The Cubs have the worst OBP out of the leadoff slot of any NL team.

Leadoff slot has been a problem, but ....well, I don't mind giving Almora a shot at it at the start of the year. I wasn't expecting his OBP to fall by 50 points. Or Descalso to fall apart so badly. Heyward seems like the best fit at leadoff given his season so far and the way the roster is set up, but as Moses notes in post #160, Heyward has also stumbled since going to the leadoff slot.

Here are the Cubs with more than 70 games played who have a better OBP than Addison Russell so far this year: Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward, and David Bote. Schwarber's OBP is two points lower than that of Russell (.329 to .327).

   162. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 12, 2019 at 05:32 PM (#5870678)
Russell Carleton of Baseball Prospectus wrote a pretty good book a year or two ago. One of the better chapters dealt with defensive shifting. He queried the central dilemma of shifting: It's caught on to help prevent runs, but BABIP hasn't gone down, and there's no evidence that it's hurt run scoring. He looked into it and found two unexpected results: 1) pitchers throw more balls when shifting goes on, leading to better counts for hitters and more walks, and 2) pitchers surrender more hard hit balls when shifting occurs behind them.

It's not like Maddon is unaware of shifting. The first team to really go heavily in with shifting was the Rays when he managed them.


So was the conclusion/implication that shifting can be counter-productive?

My point, which I did acknowledge how Maddon teams were early shift adopters, is that the league has zoomed past them. Astros/Dodgers shift ~50% of the time, while the Cubs are at the bottom around ~13% (which, to be fair, is a jump from last year of ~5%). I am not making any sort of conclusion or judgment on whether the Cubs are right or wrong, I just find it interesting - I also don't know if that's more Joe or the FO, but it is an area where the Cubs haven't changed at the same pace as the league*. The Rays have gotten much more aggressive in trying new things after Maddon left; the Dodgers also seemed to get more progressive when Friedman went there, so maybe Joe was the more old fashioned guy in the room there.

*From that statcast link, average team shifted ~14% of the time in 2016 (Cubs ~4.5%) and are at 25% this year (with the Dodgers and Astros as noted way ahead of even that). The Astros shift against lefties almost 80% of the time!
   163. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 12, 2019 at 06:14 PM (#5870685)
So was the conclusion/implication that shifting can be counter-productive?

From memory, yes. He brings up Maddon in the chapter: The guy at the cutting edge of shifting was now one of the guys who did it least. Carleton thought that was a positive.
   164. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 12, 2019 at 06:55 PM (#5870695)
If the Dodgers and the Astros are the two teams doing a thing the most, I'd say that's at least strong prima facie evidence that that thing is a good thing to do.
   165. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2019 at 06:59 PM (#5870697)
On the shift: I simply think it doesn't (or especially didn't) make sense given the Cubs' personnel. In Baez and Russell, the Cubs have two of the best-ranging MI to begin with so it's unlikely you gain much putting them both on one side -- i.e. you can still shade Russell towards the bag and Baez towards the hole and cover the same ground as most teams in a shift without opening up a massive hole or making Bryant responsible for turning the DP. Add Heyward in RF and there's even less reason to station Baez in medium RF half the time. This year with Baez at SS, player du jour at 2B and Heyward in CF half the time, maybe shifting makes more sense. It would be interesting to break down which players are on the field when the Cubs do/don't shift over the last few years.

Certainly the defensive numbers on Baez and Russell the last few years suggest the Cubs know what they're doing here. But then I don't know how the various metrics are handling the shift these days. We really need somebody to work with statcast and positioning data for IF -- it's been a few years now and I vaguely recall them hiring Tango (?) with one of the specific projects being to figure out something for IF, but no results that I'm aware of, so obviously this is all pretty complicated and maybe nobody really knows what's going on.

It's caught on to help prevent runs, but BABIP hasn't gone down, and there's no evidence that it's hurt run scoring.

Ahem. :-)

He looked into it and found two unexpected results: 1) pitchers throw more balls when shifting goes on, leading to better counts for hitters and more walks, and 2) pitchers surrender more hard hit balls when shifting occurs behind them.

But this doesn't quite make sense. I mean I assume that's a correct assessment of the actual data but there's no reason that IF placement should have any causal effect on those things. The whole notion behind shifting is "given the typical way this batter (or even the "average batter of this handedness and general GB/FB tendencies") has been pitched, this is where he will hit the ball." Obviously if you change the way you pitch that guy it will result in small changes in the distribution of his batted balls. But where the 2B is standing doesn't cause the pitcher to nibble.

I assume he controlled for the quality of the batter. Certainly in the old days (say 2012 :-), the guys shifted on were still primarily LH sluggers -- guys who pitchers nibble against and hit the ball hard anyway. Beyond that, you'd have to make some psychological argument -- coaches stress to the pitchers that the defense only works if they pitch the guy X but they end up so concerned about that, they try too hard to do it perfectly. Pitchers should probably pitch with blinders on anyway. :-)

On Almora's BABIP -- maybe. But he's a career 252 hitter on GBs -- that's pretty good and it was higher coming into this year -- but this year is at 209. On FBs, his BA is dead-on his career average but the ISO is up some. The LD rate is down a good bit which is definitely a problem but the production is right in line with his history.

Now that BAgb drop is only 5 hits which is pretty trivial -- it would add 16 points of BA so about 32 points of OPS and add about 4 runs to his WAR which only brings him to replacement level. So it is more than that. The LD drop (relative to league average) has taken another 5 hits or so and I have no idea how variable LD rates are year-to-year. But as far as bWAR is concerned, it's the -3 Rfield, a 12-run swing from last year, that is killing him. But DRS didn't like him much in 2017 either. Maybe I (we?) over-rate his defense.

I was under the impression he was Russell-ing on us, just completely falling apart the last couple of weeks but actually, as far as batting, he's been stable as can be the last couple of months. He should have had that ball from Votto the other night though -- but that wasn't likely to make any difference in the end.
   166. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 12, 2019 at 07:22 PM (#5870705)
But then I don't know how the various metrics are handling the shift these days.

When the shift was first popularized, there was a brief stretch where some third baseman (I think Brett Lawrie) had his defensive runs go completely nuts. I believe the solution implemented at the time was "ignore the plays where there's shifting." I'm not sure if that's changed, but with it being much more common now, there's probably sufficient data on shifted plays to provide a baseline at this point.
   167. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: August 12, 2019 at 07:56 PM (#5870726)
Stupid Gonfalon login issues...

I actually had a lengthy post on the shift that Walt might have "I agree"d with! which got eaten by the unending Gonfalon login issues....

Anyway, I agree - sans data to prove it - I think there are scenarios based on team construction that say shift more and those that say shift left. The Cubs have had an awfully rangey MI with two average to plus corner guys around them. In my mind? That means I should shift less and maximize field coverage.

What my original added was so OOTP anecdote - I spend a lot of time tweaking the strategy stuff and while the OOTP engine is a crude instrument, I've very much found that I should lower shift tendencies with good (and especially, high range) defenses but max it with more limited personnel. I suppose I need to wait until OOTP25 or so until it advances to the point of incorporating more exacting spray charts and statcast angles and blahblah.... but it seems to fit.

Certain batters, certain situations? EVERY team should be shifting -- but I suspect there's a lot on the margins (and a lot of baseball is played on the margins) where you're better off just having the horses and maxing field coverage.

   168. Walt Davis Posted: August 13, 2019 at 12:45 AM (#5870833)
I'll agree anyway Zonk!!**

When the shift was first popularized, there was a brief stretch where some third baseman (I think Brett Lawrie) had his defensive runs go completely nuts. I believe the solution implemented at the time was "ignore the plays where there's shifting." I'm not sure if that's changed

Yep, my memory as well. But given how much teams are shifting, they surely can't just be ignoring it now -- but no idea what they are doing. And if they are, god only knows what that means for the individual/team defense number on teams where there's little/lots of shifting.

with it being much more common now, there's probably sufficient data on shifted plays to provide a baseline at this point.

But still doesn't exactly get you there, at least for individual players. The Lawrie issue is that he was being shifted from 3B to the short RF position while the SS and 2B basically stayed where they were ... and he was being credited with making OOZ plays. I've noticed a few times when the 3B is getting shifted there but I suppose most teams employ the now-traditional shift so maybe the baseline data at least gets us in the ballpark.

Still, it's not exactly what we want. I think 'shift' is still defined as SS on other side of 2B (or vice versa vs RHB) but of course that's not much different than "SS one step to the left of 2B." As I hinted above, I wonder how much of the Cubs' "no shift" numbers are these "near shifts" where Russell/Baez were basically straight up the middle but technically not shifted.

** Truth be told, I rarely make "I agree" posts as I'm a debater at heart so am usually only inspired to post when I have something to respond to. I assume you all know how brilliant and fab you are and that I agree with 99.9% of what you say. (read 99.9% as "maybe half" :-)

EDIT: To clarify what I mean on statacst ... for the OF, they know where the guy is positioned, where the ball is hit, how much ground the guy had to cover to get there and of course whether he did which is then measured against an average distance covered sort of thing to decide how likely the ball was to be caught. In a sense, it takes positioning out of it and gives us a "pure" player measure. It would be nice to then add the positioning "back" as a team component. I'm surprised we don't yet have something similar for the IF. We know where they're positioned, we know how hard the ball was hit ... do we not know velocity after exit? do we not know at what time it does/would have reached the OF grass? Anyway, I expected a similar "assists above average" (or whatever) measure by now based essentially just on range, hands and arms independent of positioning.
   169. Walt Davis Posted: August 13, 2019 at 03:29 AM (#5870845)
By the way, on Galvis going to Cincy -- I don't know if this was more Shapiro's fault or Theo's but Galvis would have been a quite useful player to have around as part-time 2B, legit Javy back-up, etc ... obviously better than Descalso should he ever make it off the SL. The Jays eventually just put him on waivers so surely they'd prefer a low-level lottery ticket over that. Maybe Shapiro's fault as in he hadn't decided yet that Galvis would be gone anyway (it surprised me) but I hope Theo at least gave him a couple of calls.

On that note, I remain surprised they haven't tried (to any serious extent) to add OF to Bote's positions.
   170. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 13, 2019 at 11:37 AM (#5870943)
On Almora's BABIP -- maybe. But he's a career 252 hitter on GBs -- that's pretty good and it was higher coming into this year -- but this year is at 209. On FBs, his BA is dead-on his career average but the ISO is up some. The LD rate is down a good bit which is definitely a problem but the production is right in line with his history.

Now that BAgb drop is only 5 hits which is pretty trivial -- it would add 16 points of BA so about 32 points of OPS and add about 4 runs to his WAR which only brings him to replacement level. So it is more than that. The LD drop (relative to league average) has taken another 5 hits or so and I have no idea how variable LD rates are year-to-year. But as far as bWAR is concerned, it's the -3 Rfield, a 12-run swing from last year, that is killing him. But DRS didn't like him much in 2017 either. Maybe I (we?) over-rate his defense.

I was under the impression he was Russell-ing on us, just completely falling apart the last couple of weeks but actually, as far as batting, he's been stable as can be the last couple of months. He should have had that ball from Votto the other night though -- but that wasn't likely to make any difference in the end.


I'm not going to argue with any of that, just that my watching him makes me feel like he's earning his numbers. What I am trying to say is, look at his statcast hitting data. He doesn't hit the ball hard (8th percentile in EV, 9th in hard hit), rarely makes solid contact (only 13 barrels all year), doesn't hit the ball in the air (well below avg launch angle), and swings at everything. He always shows up faster than he seems. Also, the good news for his defense is statcast still loves him (95th percentile OAA, 88th percentile OF jump) there, and I still think he's a plus there.
   171. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 13, 2019 at 11:41 AM (#5870944)
By the way, on Galvis going to Cincy -- I don't know if this was more Shapiro's fault or Theo's but Galvis would have been a quite useful player to have around as part-time 2B, legit Javy back-up, etc ... obviously better than Descalso should he ever make it off the SL. The Jays eventually just put him on waivers so surely they'd prefer a low-level lottery ticket over that. Maybe Shapiro's fault as in he hadn't decided yet that Galvis would be gone anyway (it surprised me) but I hope Theo at least gave him a couple of calls.

Whether or not they were in on him, I'd blame the Ricketts. Cubs were counting every penny this offseason and even the trade deadline (remember that quote I mocked about how Theo thanked Tom for letting him spend a little on Castellanos?). I'd say they were right to prioritize the OF bat over the backup MI.

   172. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 13, 2019 at 11:52 AM (#5870947)
This is an absolutely fantastic article on Hendricks at the Athletic ($) talking about his pitching approach and changes this year.

Hendricks knows that to succeed with his sub-90 mph stuff, he has to have pristine command. And if you look at the above image, it’s clear he didn’t Saturday. But there was one pitch, a sinker, he almost certainly threw where he wanted, and it still ended up as a home run.

Aristides Aquino is hotter than almost anyone in baseball, so while that was where Hendricks wanted that two-seamer, maybe next time he should throw it a little more in on Aquino.

You might think Hendricks should have wanted a sinker to be down in the zone, but that’s not the case. In fact, Hendricks and the Cubs adjusted their sinker strategy to the way swings work now.

The two-seam fastball (also called a sinker) that Aquino hit for the first of his three home runs is part of a recent trend for Hendricks. And it’s usually an effective one.

Aquino’s homer on that two-seamer up and in was hit just 87.6 mph. It went 344 feet and had an expected batting average of .080. On the season, Hendricks is giving up an .086 batting average to right-handed hitters on two-seamers that are in that area of the zone – the inner, upper third of the strike zone and the area immediately above and in on a right-handed hitter.


Hendricks went from throwing 3.8% of that pitch to righties there in 2016 to 20.7% this year. The piece goes into detail on all of that and why, and then a long Q&A session with Kyle on it. I can't recommend that article enough.
   173. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 13, 2019 at 11:59 AM (#5870952)
AUGUST 13:
1897 Clark Griffith pitches his first shutout after 7 seasons in the bigs. He reputedly considers them to be bad luck
1906 Jack Taylor of Cubs knocked out in the 3rd vs. Brk - ending his streak at 187 CG
1913 Cubs acquire Hippo Vaughn from KC in AA for pitcher Lew Richie
1922 Charles Hollocher, CHC, hits 3 triples against STL
1932 Charlie Root's worst day batting: 0-for-4 w/ 4 Ks: his only 4 K game
1932 Judge Landis clears recently fired Cubs manager Rogers Hornsby of fraudulently "borrowing" $ from CHC players
1959 SFG-CHC set record for longest 9 inning game in history: 3 hours, 50 minutes: CHC 20, NYG 9
1959 Ernie Banks walks four times in one game: 1-for-2, 1 2B
1969 CHC lead NL East by 8.5 games
1973 Cubs purchase Rico Carty from Rangers
1979 3,000 hits: Lou Brock. 2,586 games. W/ STL against CHC
1979 Corey Patterson born
1985 Cubs release Larry Bowa
1987 Cubs retire Billy Williams' number (26)
2008 MLB debut: Francisley Bueno - also his last game. He's ejected for throwing at Alfonso Soriano in ATL-CHC game. Oops
2017 Kris Bryant, CHC, scores from second on a wild pitch (the pitcher fell down on the mound)
2018 David Bote, CHC, hits walk-off grand slam for a 4-3 win over DCN. 1st walk-off grand slam for a 4-3 win since Sammy Byrd on May 23, 1936. Bote hit his with 2 outs and 2 strikes

   174. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 13, 2019 at 03:15 PM (#5871025)
Ryan back, Maples down (and already pitching in Iowa's game).

Heyward RF
Castellanos LF
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Lucroy
Almora
Happ
Quintana
   175. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 13, 2019 at 03:16 PM (#5871029)
Stupid Gonfalon login issues...

Tip, by the way. Copy/paste your post before you hit submit. But you can always go back to a previous page on the thread to post even if you're not logged in on the current page. Who knows why, I've given up asking Jim to fix it. Only problem is when we're still on the first page, so that's part of the reason why I post so much and leave these up so long.
   176. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 13, 2019 at 05:12 PM (#5871087)
But still doesn't exactly get you there, at least for individual players. The Lawrie issue is that he was being shifted from 3B to the short RF position while the SS and 2B basically stayed where they were ... and he was being credited with making OOZ plays. I've noticed a few times when the 3B is getting shifted there but I suppose most teams employ the now-traditional shift so maybe the baseline data at least gets us in the ballpark.

I think the solution here would just be to reclassify the shifted infielders as 1B, (short RF guy), (up the middle guy), and (left side guy), rather than relying on their traditional designations. (Statistics still folded back into the player's rating at his primary unshifted position for the game.)

But you're correct, a more granular measure for infielders would be preferable.
   177. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 13, 2019 at 05:22 PM (#5871092)
Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma ·1h

Ben Zobrist will join the Iowa Cubs on Thursday in Memphis. He'll be there Thursday to Sunday and then, as has been the case since he started up again, they'll reevaluate on Monday.

Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma ·1h

For those wondering if this means he's closer to returning than expected, it doesn't. Timeline remains the same as originally planned.

Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma ·1h

Kintzler was going to work on the field, but rain kept him from doing that. He got his work done in pen (his 2nd time doing so) and is on target to be activated on Friday. Kimbrel threw in bullpen, second session could come in a couple days. Obviously won't be activated tomorrow.


Mills should probably be the next guy to go down when one of them comes back, then probably Underwood. I'd expect both of them, plus Maples and Alzolay, back up in September. There isn't an obvious next guy after those 2 for when Cishek comes back - someone probably needs to take an IL vacation then.

Getting way ahead of myself, but if/when it comes times to set a playoff roster, I don't think any of those AAA has a shot to make the pen (unless someone is hurt) and Chatwood has the be the current guy off the roster for another bat. Whether that's Zobrist or a 3rd catcher (or both, with Kemp not making the cut) is still TBD.

I guess Russell is on a bit of a hot streak right now, homering in 3 straight games. I know they still appreciate his defense, but I'd be hard pressed to see him make the team over someone like Bote or Happ; Kemp, sure, or if Zo isn't ready, maybe. When he went down, I'd assumed we'd seen the last of him. Now I wonder if he'll be back in September if he hits really well down there.
   178. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 14, 2019 at 09:58 AM (#5871230)
Last night's game was really annoying. Some might blame the bullpen, but I'm annoyed with the offense and the shitty, shitty ABs they kept having against Vargas. I know it's easier said that done to lay off crap pitches from a jumkballer or just go the other way with those pitches, but almost everyone tried to pull everything the entire time. It looked like they were getting themselves out. We also got the first drawback from Happ at 2b.

Damn shame, too, because Quintana was awesome again. He has a 50:7 k:bb ration going his last 8 starts/47.2IP.
   179. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 14, 2019 at 04:19 PM (#5871415)
Kemp 2b
Casellanos
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Schwarber
Happ CF
Caratini
Hamels

Heyward initially was first in CF/Happ at 2nd but Heyward was scratched "due to left knee inflammation". Rizzo should be hitting leadoff instead...
   180. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 14, 2019 at 05:06 PM (#5871429)
That is some defensive outfield.
   181. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 14, 2019 at 05:08 PM (#5871432)
Gordon Wittenmyer @GDubCub ·32m

Heyward said knee locked up briefly when he went to get out of bed in middle of night. Then loosened. Felt better in batting cage today. No MRI. And, says Heyward, no threat of IL move. Might take tomorrow, too, though.
   182. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 14, 2019 at 07:47 PM (#5871480)
This team is such trash on the road.

   183. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 14, 2019 at 08:16 PM (#5871489)
One of the many (MANY, MANY) reasons I'd be a terrible baseball executive is that I probably would have fired Maddon during the game Saturday. I don't really know if I think he should be fired or not, but another one of those losses (ones where he says to burn the tape or whatever) is just too much. There have been way, way too many of those this year. Where the pitching and offense both completely no show. I don't even know if that is something that's the manager's fault or not, but I sure would enjoy the temporary satisfaction of making someone pay for that.


Add another one of those to the pile. Yikes.
   184. Walt Davis Posted: August 14, 2019 at 10:30 PM (#5871541)
Kemp 2b

That surprised me because I thought he was an OF. And he has been mostly in the majors but did have 20+ starts at 2B for the Astros and was primarily a 2B in the minors. I still would have guessed Happ at 2B, Kemp in CF would have been the way to go -- not sure if this is more a comment on Happ's 2B defense or Kemp's CF defense but it can't be good either way.

I haven't seen any of Hamels' starts off the IL but obviously the last two haven't gone very well -- any evidence he needs to go back on the IL? (Other than 13 runs in his last 5 IP).
   185. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 15, 2019 at 10:09 AM (#5871612)
Kemp has played a lot more LF than CF, so it's probably more about Kemp in CF than Happ at 2b, IMO.

As for Hamels, I wasn't paying close enough attention to his velocity or location, since he pretty much was #### from the get go in both. Whatever the problem is, everything is getting crushed and he doesn't appear to be fooling anyone.

Prior to yesterday, the Cubs had actually scored/allowed the same number of runs on the road, but were still 13 under .500. Yesterday's loss put them negative, but as everyone is quick to point out, they're now 0-10-2 on road series this year, and have only won 4 total series on the road (Marlins, DBacks, Mariners, and Nationals when they were bad - notably not a single division road series).

The other problem, and the thing that prompted my comment about firing Maddon, was the 2nd blowout of the weekend; well, that's now 3 in the last 7 games (you can add another one on 8/1 against the Cards if you want). I get it that sometimes the SP just get rocked, but what really bugs me about all of those games is that that offense also completely no shows (anything they did offensively was late after the game was completely out of hand). It's a long season, again I get it, #### happens, and not every game is going to always be the best effort. But this often, this late in the year, during a close race? Unacceptable and infuriating.
   186. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 15, 2019 at 03:27 PM (#5871724)
Hoyer says on @670TheScore that Brandon Morrow threw a live BP yesterday. They're hoping that's a positive step, but don't know until they hear how he's bounced back from that session.


Sure, ok.

...

Almora
Castellanos
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Bote 2b
Schwarber
Caratini
Darvish

Dammit, Joe.
   187. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 15, 2019 at 03:31 PM (#5871727)
Hoyer says on @670TheScore that Brandon Morrow threw a live BP yesterday. They're hoping that's a positive step, but don't know until they hear how he's bounced back from that session.
Friday, August 16 (AP): Cubs reliever Brandon Morrow had to have both arms and legs amputated as a result of throwing a live batting practice session on Wednesday. He will likely miss at least the first half of the 2020 season but said he hopes to be back shortly after the All-Star break.
   188. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 15, 2019 at 04:47 PM (#5871744)
How's he going to get overpaid an disappoint someone next year if he doesn't at least throw one incredibly great inning this year, thus teasing everyone into thinking what they'd get if only he were healthy...

Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma ·42m

James Norwood called up from Iowa, Alec Mills sent down after six innings last night. Kintzler is eligible (and expected) to be back tomorrow


Mills had a quality start in relief last night.
   189. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 15, 2019 at 05:19 PM (#5871756)
Javy scratched suck, and oh boy.

Rizzo
Castellanos
Bryant
Schwarber
Happ 2b
Bote ss
Caratini
Darvish
Almora
   190. Brian C Posted: August 15, 2019 at 09:42 PM (#5871833)
Really a big-time start by Darvish tonight, which they really needed. And another start without giving up a walk - that's now five straight, and only two walks issued total over his last 8 starts. I approve.

   191. Walt Davis Posted: August 15, 2019 at 10:19 PM (#5871848)
Apropos of nothing but me waiting and trembling in fear as ESPN updates its gameday ... Cle 19-4 over Yanks, Twins 12-3 over Tex ... ALC could be a fun little race.
   192. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 15, 2019 at 10:25 PM (#5871856)
That's mostly on the middle infield defense - Bote's error and 2 grounders just past Happ were all plays a real SS/2b make - but I have no idea what in God's name was making maddons rp choices; almost none of them made a lick of sense. Just brutal.
   193. Walt Davis Posted: August 15, 2019 at 10:27 PM (#5871857)
And that's a wrap.
   194. Brian C Posted: August 15, 2019 at 10:30 PM (#5871860)
I'm going off about it in the Omnichatter but as much as I've defended Maddon in the past, tonight was pretty much just losing on purpose. Wick has been the Cubs' best reliever for weeks now, and he did allow 3 baserunners in the ninth. But only 1 of those 3 was hit even remotely hard, and even that 1 was just a routine single up the middle, so no biggie.

But then Maddon panics and brings in two worse pitchers. It's one thing to get programmatic about the pen, but you don't take out a pitcher mid-inning to bring in worse pitchers! Wick needs to stay in there and Maddon needs to just suck it up.

Just a completely ####### pathetic game to lose. Probably the worst loss all year, IMO.
   195. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 15, 2019 at 10:37 PM (#5871867)
Demoralizing loss. Up four, I thought there was no way they'd cough up the lead, even after the error and single. Once Harper came up, I figured it was over, but it was extra crushing because Holland got two quick strikes on him.

I don't know. These guys are such a bad road team that it's soured my feelings about the team in general. These have been the best years to be a Cubs fan in our lifetime, but it's kind of depressing that each incarnation since 2016 has felt a bit more inferior.
   196. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: August 15, 2019 at 10:37 PM (#5871868)
Stupid Gonfalon login issues...
I actually had a lengthy post on the shift that Walt might have "I agree"d with! which got eaten by the unending Gonfalon login issues....


Sorry.
   197. The Run Fairy Posted: August 15, 2019 at 10:43 PM (#5871869)
Really a big-time start by Darvish tonight, which they really needed. And another start without giving up a walk - that's now five straight, and only two walks issued total over his last 8 starts. I approve.


You've probably read it already, but there was an interesting article on Fangraphs about Darvish's attempts to reduce his walk rate.
   198. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 16, 2019 at 03:58 PM (#5872017)
Cubs moves...

• Almora optioned to AAA
• Russell recalled from AAA
• Kintzler activated from IL
• Norwood optioned to AAA


Hmm...I'm honestly surprised Russell is back. He was good in AAA.
   199. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 16, 2019 at 05:12 PM (#5872022)
I'm honestly surprised Russell is back. He was good in AAA.

Based on what you said in Post #192, it makes a lot of sense. They need Russell's glove.
   200. Walt Davis Posted: August 16, 2019 at 09:34 PM (#5872042)
It's possible Strop is just done but I'll defend Joe there. Wick had faced 6 batters and 22 pitches -- that's usually about it for a modern reliever. And clearly not all his fault but he had given up 3 hits to those 6 batters. I'm not saying he made the right decision, I'm saying it's understandable that he didn't have a lot of faith that Wick's 23-30th pitches were gonna get us out of it. And of course maybe he should have gone to Phelps or somebody other than Strop. Joe kinda has to get Strop back on track or we probably don't win the division and probably won't go much farther if we do. With 20/20 hindsight, of course let's stick with Wick.

Wick is extremely stingy with the HR, both minors and majors so far for at least the last two seasons ... and with the HR bonanza in AAA this year, that should translate reasonably well to the bigs. So let's hope.
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