Entry level analysis.
In today's Chicago Tribune, there is an article on the rise of Chuck Wasserstrom and the impact he has had and will likely have.
Now, I'm prob. one of the poster children for the term "stat-geek" and I think it is great that the Cubs have allocated more resources towards "statistical scouting", but was that really a step forward? There is a difference between having info and the utilization of it.
Maybe I'm being too critical, I appreciate the efforts by the Cubs, but I'm skeptical of anything substantial coming from it. Of course, I don't think it is intended to be substantial, just a nice bow on a gift.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Entry level analysis.
Sunday, April 25, 2004
I'm back, sorry about the pause in writing, my father has been in the hospital this past week, been scouting local HS and JUCOs in the area, and been doing some consultant work for an Indy League squad (For those who don't know, I have had a cup of coffee as an Indy League GM).
Likely tomorrow, I will resume writing.
Friday, April 16, 2004
Clutch hitting rant!
It is about 10PM, Friday night, spent a nice evening with my wife and I'm about to begin a rant on the so-called clutch hitting. There is debate whether it exists or not, typically the better hitter in the regular season will hit better in the post-season, simply b/c he is the better hitter. Now, there are enough cases where a hitter is better in close and late situations than non clutch situations to prove that clutch hitting does exist! (there I said it).There are two questions that are now presented: 1) Why is he better in the clutch? Is it b/c of random chance or is b/c of an increased level of concentration? 2) How much value does it add?
I can't answer the the 1st question, it is generally a player by player answer, each player it is probably a different answer.
The second question is what seperates me from most who say clutch hitting exist, I think it adds little value to a particular if the player is not productive in non-clutch situations. Simply b/c a player will have a far more greater amount of ABs in non-clucth situations and to get to a clutch situation, there was either production or lack of production and that player likely contributed to that. If that player contributed negatively, his clutch value is basically nil, if his lack of production put him in that position.
Players who are below avg. then become better in close and late situations, still have minimal value.
Lansing wasted an oustanding performance by Bear Bay, while being young for the League as a DF&E, continues to pitch well with a low 90s FB and plus curve. He (like Marshall) will have to add some weight, he is almost ideal to my Soph. season in HS playing height & weight of 6'2" 150LBs, but I can't argue with his results so far in his 1st full season. Good to see Fox hit another HR.
Daytona cont. to slide, its hard to imagine a large % of this squad were on the MWL Championship team. Missing Justin Jones has much to do with it, but the offense hasn't been there, like the 2003 Lansing squad, this might be a team that plays great one half and mediocre in the other. Another C performs solidly, while McGehee plays well at 3B.
Rusch shines as Iowa ends their losing streak. It'll be interesting what will happen Rusch if he keeps pitches well, will the Cubs basically waste an option on Beltran (likely to have been up before Sept.) and bring up Rusch as the LOOGY and add him to the 40? Will they let him keep pitching well at Iowa as the Cubs did with Beck? Am I basing too much on a small sample? (yes). Nice to see Kelton hit a HR, I still project him as .275 20HR corner OF.
Hitting with two strikes.
As poor of an approach the Cubs have had by swinging at the 1st pitch, the Cubs have been somewhat productive hitting at an .845 (OPS) clip when swinging at the 1st pitch. More of a negative impact than pitches per AB is their lack of production with two strikes.
In 121 ABs with two strikes these are the numbers...
0-2 (21ABs) .658 OPS
1-2 (48ABs) .338 OPS
2-2 (36ABs) .357 OPS
3-2 (37ABs) .522 OPS
That is approx. 34% of the total ABs, they currently have a .889OPS, while as much as I'd love for them to improve on working the count, improving the ability to hit w/two strikes is more important at this point b/c it has been more destructive and it has happened in 59 more ABs in only 10 games.
Thursday, April 15, 2004
Lansing suffers 1st loss, splits DH.
Nice to see Tony McQuade come through with GW HR in Game 1, he was productive at FSU, which is an extreme pitcher's park. I think he can become a sleeper, he is restricted as a corner OF though as his projection is well behind several OFs.
Also, good to see Batman (Kevin Collins) start off right, he was miserable last year after a great 2002 campaign, he is likely too old for the League (depending on which metric), but offense is offense and any rebound from last year is great.
Game 2, witnessed the 1st Lugnuts loss of the year despite a HR from Kyle Boyer who starred at Cal St. Fullerton, who I expect to move up to Daytona after Greenberg advances to West Tenn. Fitzgerald is another candidate to jump up to Daytona in the near future.
Speaking of being too old for a League, how about too advanced; I'm speaking of Sean Marshall who pitched decent yesterday, but in 27 out of 30 farm systems would be at High-A.
Another positive note, Fox continues to hit, once Richie comes back, I hope a surplus of C prospects begins to shape, (beyond using #6 as the BPA) wasn't that the purpose of the 2003 draft?
Daytona and Rocky Cherry get blasted, despite strong offensive performances from Greenberg, Hood, McGehee, and Montanez. Its nice to see Montanez doing well, I hope they allow him extended time at a level he is doing well at, despite the 4 years in the system, he still about the avg. age of a player in High-A. I can't forget to mention Casey, who as important as his offensive production is (currently hitting .400), I hope to get some reports on his defense, it is a dramatic move going from 3B to C, he's not the 1st in the system to try it.
Not many positives when the Diamondjaxx lose 8-0. When a pitcher lasts only 5.1IP and gives 4 runs, it usually means the pitcher gave up a boatload of hits, walked many batters, struck out few, or gave up several free baseballs, for Brownlie none of that happened. I'm always pleased to see him strike out that many batters in that few of IP, the one thing that suprised me was his low K total for a pitcher with a (+) FB and curve last year, I think injuries played a key role.
Iowa lost the game and their most athletic player until June. Iowa has had a problem scoring runs since Nic Jackson has been out of the line-up, not they will have to be w/out him till June as he injured his shoulder. Jackson has as much of a ceiling as almost any position player on the team (minus Pie, Harvey, and Dopriak), his struggles have come from being injured and lack of a batting eye, his bat speed is probably the best in the system and he projects to hit around 15HR and 20SBs. It would be interesting to see what an extended period of time healthy woud do for him, the last time he was healthy for an entire season, he was among the best players in the FSL and did well in the SL.
What a difference a year makes!
Not too much more can be said about the improvement of production at 3B and C over last year by Aramis Ramirez and Michael Barrett.
To put it in perspective, I'll be using my fav. offensive stat (XR) and look at the production of the pletora of 3B that were used last year and Damian Miller for the C spot. For the record, I have always been a big proponent of Mark Bellhorn and still thought he was mishandled by Baker/Cubs and that Red Sox will likely take advantage of his natural gifts.
So for Ramirez, he has an XR of 7.412 in 39 ABs, the combination of Mark Bellhorn, Lenny Harris, Jose Hernandez, Ramon Martinez, and Augie Ojeda (1 AB) had an XR of 34.476 in 360ABs.
To match the Run production of Ramirez thru 39ABs, it would have them 77ABs, roughly twice as long to equal the run production as Ramirez.
Onto Barrett, his production has been equal to 6.724 in 24ABs, Miller in 2003 had 41.172 in 349 ABs. it would have taken Miller 57ABs to match what Barrett has done in 24ABs, roughly 58% fewer ABs.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Carlos Zambrano=Bartolo Colon or Livan Hernandez?
This was a point brought up by Jonah Keri who is a writer for Baseball Prospectus in a recent chat.
"I like Zambrano, but I worry about his workload. Of course his build could also mean that he can withstand what we'd normally view as worrisome loads for a pitcher his age. I wonder if in a few years we'll be talking about Zambrano the way we do Bartolo Colon, and Livan Hernandez v2003."
Let's break down their bios and 1st two years in the majors (the extent of Zambrano's career) to see if there is a similarity from where they were to see if there is a potential trend.
Colon is 5'11" who is stocky with strong legs.
Hernandez is 6'2" who is obese, not much muscle in the legs but still stocky.
Zambrano is 6'5" 245LBs with a strong base and not much loose mass. He has more muscle definition than previous seasons after an off-season weight program.
Given Zambrano's size and frame, which is more adapt at carrying more pounds is more ideal for those who are borderline as far as being overweight as Colon and Hernandez were in their early 20's and what Zambrano is currently going thru.
Colon was a power pitcher with a plus curve, able to hit 98 and 99 with ease.
Hernandez topped out at 97 during his magical 97 season and like Colon has a plus curve that is still used as his velocity hits the upper 80's.
Zambrano has a mid 90's FB that can reach 97, but unlike Colon and Hernandez it has a sharp downward movement and most importantly he does not have a + curve or any curve, the curve with regular use a destructive pitch.
To further expand on the different styles, look ar GB/FB ratios:
The extreme diff. in GB/FB ratios is a clear indication of different styles of pitchers.
Results from their 1st two years:
298IP 312H 27HR 144BB 224K
322.1IP 282H 18HR 157BB 261K
330.2IP 346H 42HR 142BB 234K
Ratios per 9
Projecting the HR, BB, & K ratio for 180 IP
Using TangoTiger's DIPS formula (Based on those projected numbers)
Given the differences in body types, type and purpose of pitches they throw, and results from their 1st two seasons (298+IP), I don't see any clear indicator that they are any more similar than a slightly better random selection.
Minor League Notes
The Lansing Lugnuts are off to their best start in team history by starting the season 4-0, nice to see Fox cont. to hit well to start the seaon but, like everyone else I'm more concerned with his defense. What I hope doesn't become a trend in Dopirak and his feast or famine potential. All in all, no complaints Chirinos is showing a good eye at the plate and Petrick was productive as Lansing wins again.
The Daytona Cubs cont. to struggle as they lose despite scoring 7 runs. Adam Greenberg was able to provide some power, I feel he should be at AA at this point, but it has been more injuries than production that has stunted his progression and given his size, power projection will be limited for him. Former Cubs Eliezer Alfonzo (what the heck is he doing at High-A?) led Brevard with 2HRs as Sisco had one of his worst outings of his young career. Sisco was spared the loss due to high amonut of runs and was given to Baez.
The DiamondJaxx wasted a great outing by Nolasco as they lose 3-2 after Blasdell gave up 3 earned runs. Not surprising to see a productive outing from Nolasco, not the most touted prospect in the Cubs system, but who can argue with career numbers of 19-7 2.69ERA 45GS 258IP 212H 7HR 78BB 251K while having slightly above stuff with a low 90s FB w/movement and an above avg. curve while being much younger for the leagues he has played in.
The Iowa Cubs suffered another tough loss as they lose 4-3 as Jimmy Anderson actually pitched well, but the offense has been struggling. On the flipside, the pitching has been great, I'm curious who will be shifted to closer as Beltran is on the 25 man roster while Pratt was demoted. This will be a clear test of the Cubs future intentions with Pratt, if he resumes the LOOGY role at Iowa, it will help confirm my belief that the Cubs panicked about needing another LOOGY despite the fact that both Farnsowrth and Hawkins were very good against LHs, much better than Remlinger. To give up someone like Cruz for a LOOGY with poor control is a terrible move, hopefully Lewis can help balance it out, but he has been a 1st rd. bust since being drafted in the 1st rd. in 2001.
Yesterday in the Chicago Tribune, there is an article (Reg. req'd) that states the Cubs could be interested in acquiring Jason Kendall, if the Pirates fall out of contention early. There are hurdles though, "Kendall signed a $60 million deal in 2000 slated to pay him $8.6 million this year, $10 million next year, $11 million in 2006 and $13 million in 2007".
Financial liabilities aside, the acquisition of Kendall would be the offensive boost the Cubs appear to be lacking since deciding not to pursue Kaz Matsui (similar dollars as Maddux without the phony sentimental value) to replace Alex Gonzalez as the starting SS. Based on Jim Furtado's XR with weight added b/c he plays C, his XR of 96.55 would have been the highest on the Cubs last year.
Much depends on the success of Michael Barrett, Hendry has had an eye for Barrett for a couple of years now, so it might take time before equal consideration is factored. Right now, I have Barrett's OPS projected between .710 and .740, which should be good enough to prevent a trade even before fiscal matters are taken into consideration.
Mark Grudzielanek placed on 15 day DL.
A day late as far as current news, but it is an important injury as one of the few who have been able to get on base at an above avg. clip is now out out of the line-up. Thankfully for the Cubs, Hendry was able to sign Todd Walker at a bargain price of 1yr at 1.75mil.
This enters the question what would happen if Walker would be able to take over the starting position over Grudzielanek for the remainder of the Season (obviously this will not happen).
Last year, Grudzielanek was probably the surprise of the roster, he happened to have the 2nd best season of his 9 career, posting an OPS+ of 105 compared to his career avg. of 89.
His style of hitting of that of a line-drive hitter who tries to shoot the ball between each power alley and does a poor job of drawing BBs. I constantly use the stat (H-HR/AB-K-HR) to see how well or how poorly a player put the ball into play, last year Grudzielanek led the Cubs was .357, his career avg. is .321. There is probably a luck factor, involved with his numbers last year, I don't think he all of sudden became better ate hitting seeing eye singles over his 1st 8 years. Now, replacing his .357 with his career numbers his numbers go from 109 singles, 38DB, 1TR, 3HR, .314/.366/.416, they adjust to 96 singles, 33DB, 1TR, 3HR, .277/.332/.376 (which is almost identical to his career .285/.329/.387).
Grudzielanek's PECOTA is .273/.321/.379.
Onto Todd Walker, his VORP was 22.2 last year and his EQA was slightly above avg. for a 2B. He is probably a 2B version of what Alou is to LFs, without being fragile. Defensively, Todd Walker was awful last year, it was a dramatic drop-off over his 2002 defensive numbers. I expect Walker to improve defensively last year.
Walker's PECOTA is .272/.332/.405
I also expect that Todd Walker would be a more productive 2B over this season compared to Grudzielanek.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
This is a continuation of the top 25 Cubs teams of the past century.
#19. 1912 91-59 3rd place It appears to be a trend that most of the teams on the list are from before radio and television. The 1912 Cubs were managed by Frank Chance who would be coaching his final season with the Cubs and then spending two years with the door mat of the AL, the New York Yankees. In his 7 years coaching the Cubs, Chance was 335 games above .500, in his 2 years coaching the Yankees, he was 44 games below .500.
The 1912 team had played much better than its pythagorean record would indicate, the run differential was 88 runs, which projects to 8 fewer wins than their actual record (83-67).
The team had its usual suspects as far as superstars, Tinker to Evers was still the 6-4 combo and Mordecai Brown was still pitching at 35 years old. But, the success of the season was based not on players elected into the HOF, but good players nonetheless. On offense, Heinie Zimmerman led the NL in batting avg, HRs, hits, Doubles, Slugging %, and OPS, and finished 6th in MVP voting. Frank Schulte coming off his MVP season of 1911 had another impressive campaign.
From the mound, Larry Cheney had his best season of his career, leading the NL in wins (26) and complete games (39). Lou Richie and Jimmy Lavender rounded out the staff, while Mordecai Brown pitched under 89 innings.
#18 1969 Cubs (92-70, you know where they finished) If symbolism had any merit, the 1969 Cubs would be ranked #13. One of the most famous losing teams in MLB history, it is a shame that the 1969 Cubs are most noted for what they did not have instead of what they had. This was a team blessed with great talent with positional players and pitchers. This team outscored its opponents by 109 runs for a pythagprean record of (93-69), finished 3rd in runs scored, and 3rd runs allowed.
The 1969 Cubs contained 4 HOF'es (Ron Santo included), several all-stars such as Randy Hundley, Glenn Beckert, and Don Kessinger.
Of course, the primary contributors on offense were Ron Santo who finished 5th in MVP voting and led the team in Adjusted OPS+ (131). Ernie Banks played his last injury free season of his great career at the age of 38 and Billy Williams was in the prime of his career. As previously mentioned, Randy Hundley, Don Kessinger, and Glenn Beckert played key roles on offense as well. Jim Hickman was one year away from having his best career, but still had a productive 1969 season as an OF'er.
The pitching staff contained HOF'er Fergie Jenkins who finished 3rd in wins (21), 3rd in BB/9 (2.05), and led the NL in strikeouts (289). Bill Hands had his best season of his career in 1969, finishing 9th in ERA (2.49), 5th in wins (20), and 5th in Adjusted ERA+ (162). The staff also contained 23 yo. Ken Holtzman and 25yo Dick Selma.
#17 1911 Cubs (92-62 2nd place) Very similar team as the 1911 rated at #19, this team was able to get one more good year out of Mordecai Brown and a career year out of Frank Schulte. The 1911 Cubs had a run differential of 150, leading the NL in runs scored and 3rd in runs allowed, for a Pythagorean record of (92-62), equal to their actual record.
On offense, the Cubs were led by Frank Schulte who won the NL MVP after leading the NL in Slugging % (.534), HR (21), RBIs (107), XBH (72), and Adjusted OPS+ (156). Heinie Zimmerman also had a solid season.
1911 would be Mordecai Brown's last productive season with the Cubs, finishing 7 in the NL in wins (21), 1st in games (50), and 1st in saves (13). Ed Reulbach and Lew Richie would also be key members of the rotation.
#16 1989 Cubs (93-69 1st place. "The Boys of Zimmer", if there is a team built on career years, this might be the one. The catalysts for the team happen to be 2 rookies and a #2 pitcher, who had a career year and then fell off. The team had a run differential of 79 runs, good for a Pythagorean record of (90-72), they lost 4-1 to the SF Giants in the 89 NLCS.
The two rookies previously mentiones were Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith who finished 1 and 2 in the ROY standings, respectively. To further to expand on how they were unable to build or even maintain their production levels of 1989, look at their career RC as Walton had alomst 33% of his career RC occur in 1989 and Dwight Smith had almost 25% of his career RC in 1989, while having a career high OPS+ of 142 (his second highest would be 123).
The offense did have some superstars able to maintain production beyond one season though as Ryne Sandberg had an outsanding season winning his usual GG, 4 in MVP voting, 1st in runs scored (104), 5th in total bases (301), and 5th in HRs (30). Mark Grace had one of his best seasons of his career finsihing 4th in batting avg. (.314) and 4th in OBP (.405). Andre Dawson had a steady season, but decline and years in Montreal were evident.
The pitching showed some promise from a 23 yo. Greg Maddux who finshed 3rd in the Cy Young award & 2nd in wins (19). Also a young closer by the name Mitch Williams would finish 10 in MVP voting and 1st games (76). The biggest suprise of them all Mike Bielecki. Mike Bielecki was 29 years old at the time of 1989 and had established ERA+ numbers of 80, 82, 87, and 108 before 1989, when he shocked the world with a 121. In Bielecki's 3 seasons as a starter, he finished with ERA + (82, 121, 87). The staff also had veteran leadership as Rick Sutcliffe provided 16 wins and Scott Sanderson was productive at the age of 37.
Monday, April 12, 2004
Who's hot and who's not in the minors.
Carlos Marmol (Lansing) 7IP 2H 1BB 8Ks (1 win)
Sean Marshall (Lansing) 6IP 3H 0BB 7Ks (1 win)
Bear Bay (Lansing) 6IP 5H 2BB 2K (1 win)
Alberto Mendez (Lansing) 2IP 1H 0BB 2K (2 saves)
Kyle Boyer (Lansing) 4 for 8 1R 1RBI (.500/.500/.500)
Kevin Collins (Lansing) 4 for 10 1HR 3RBIs (.400/.400/.700)
Jake Fox (Lansing) 4 for 11 1HR 1RBI (.364/.417/.636)
Andy Sisco (Daytona) 6IP 7H 1BB 5Ks
Anderson Tavares (Daytona) 6IP 7H 1BB 2K (1 win)
Carlos Vasquez (Daytona) 5IP 3H 1ER
Buck Coats (Daytona) 4 for 13 3 Doubles 3R (.308/.308/.538)
Felix Pie (Daytona) 6 for 16 1HR 3BBs (.375/.474/.563)
Luis Montanez (Daytona) 2 for 7 1DB 1TR 3BB (.286/.500/.714)
Ryan Theriot (Daytona) 4 for 11 2HBP 2BB (.364/.462/.364)
Bobby Brownlie (West Tenn.) 5IP 3H 1ER 1BB 7Ks (1 win)
Reynel Pinto (West Tenn) 4.2IP 3H 2ER 3BB 7Ks
Evan Fahrner (West Tenn) 3IP 1H 0ER 1BB 5K
Josh Arteaga (West Tenn) 4 for 6 2DB 3RBI (.667/.667/1.000)
Micah Hoffpauir (West Tenn) 4 for 9 1DB 1RBI (.444/.444/.556)
Richard Lewis (West Tenn) 4 for 11 1DB 3RBI 3BB (.364/.500/.455)
Aron Weston (West Tenn) 4 for 8 2DB (.500/.500/.750)
Francis Beltran (Iowa) 3.1IP 0H 0BB 3K 3Saves
David Cash (Iowa) 5IP 2H 2BB 7K
Bryan Corey (Iowa) 5IP 1H 3BB 3Ks 2wins
Jon Leicester (Iowa) 6IP 3H 2BB 8K 1 win
Glendon Rusch (Iowa) 5IP 4H 0BB 3K
Nic Jackson 2 for 4 (Iowa) 2TR 1RBI (.500/.500/.1.500)
Russ Johnson 3 for 6 (Iowa) 1RBI 3BBs (.500/.667/.500)
This is basically where a player gets 3 points for being on the who's hot list, this is compounded by adding .5 points for every year they are under the avg. age of a player in their League or subtraction of .5 points if they are older, if a player is a AAAA like Rusch, he will get a 0. This will be updated weekly.
For Low A-21-22yo
For High A-22-23yo
Felix Pie-4.5 points
Bear Bay-4 points
Anderson Tavarez-4 points
Reynel Pinto-4 points
Andy Sisco-3.5 points
Carlos Vasquez-3.5 points
Buck Coats-3.5 points
Bobby Brownlie-3 points
Carlos Marmol-3 points
Sean Marshall-3 points
Alberto Mendez-3 points
Kyle Boyer-3 points
Kevin Collins-3 points
Jake Fox-3 points
Luis Montanez-3 points
Josh Arteaga-3 points
Micah Hoffpauir-3 points
Nic Jackson-3 points
Richard Lewis-3 points
Aron Weston-3 points
Frank Beltran-3 points
David Cash-3 points
Jon Leicester-3 points
Ryan Theriot-2.5 points
Evan Fahrner-2 points
Brian Dopirak (Lansing) 3 for 14 6Ks (.214/.214/.286)
Alfredo Francisco (Lansing) 0 for 7 3Ks (.000/.125/.000)
Drew Larsen (Lansing) 0 for 7 (.000/.111/.000)
Rocky Cherry (Daytona) 4.1IP 7H 4ER 8.31ERA
Jordan Gerk (Daytona) 3IP 4H 4ER 12.00ERA
Dwaine Bacon (West Tenn) 2 for 11 5Ks (.182/.308/.182)
Ronny Cedeno (West Tenn) 1 for 9 3Ks (.111/.333./.111)
Mike Dzurilla (West Tenn) 2 for 10 (.200/.333/.200)
Jemel Spearman (West Tenn) 1 for 10 4Ks (.100/.182/.200)
Jason Dubois (Iowa) 3 for 13 5Ks (.231/.286/.231)
Benji Gil (Iowa) 1 for 9 3Ks (.111/.200/.111)
Damian Jackson (Iowa) 1 for 12 (.083/.214/.083)
Dave Kelton (Iowa) 3 for 15 5K (.200/.200/.267)
Casey Kopitzke (Iowa) 0 for 6 3K (.000/.000/.000)
Donny Leon (Iowa) 1 for 13 (.077/.071/.308)
Fernando Lunar (Iowa) 0 for 5 (.000/.000/.000)
Calvin Murray (Iowa) 0 for 9 (.000./.100/.100)
Jimmy Anderson (Iowa) 4IP 4H 3ER 4BB 6.75ERA
Sunday, April 11, 2004
The top 25 Cubs teams of the past 100 years.
#25. 1998' Cubs (90-73 WC): Known for the breakout and record chasing/setting season of Sammy Sosa and introduction of Kerry Wood. Both Kerry and Sammy had two amazing moment, Sosa was able to set single HR record in a month by hitting 20 in June. As everyone knows, on the the damp early May game when in his 5th start, Wood (imo) pitched the best game in history by pitching a 1-hitter (should have been an error on Orie), 20 strikeouts, and is least remembered that Kerry did not BB anyone. While the team was able to play its way into the playoffs by beating SF, it was not a great team. They only had a 39 run differential as their pythagorean W-L is 5 games worse than their actual record (85-78). Kevin Tapani was able to lead the team with 19 wins, despite a 4.85ERA and allowing 30HRs, 244H in 219IP, and a poor BB/K ratio of 62/136. It showed as the Cubs were swept easily by the Atlanta Braves in 3 games.
Sosa did win the MVP by a wide margin (30 of the 32 1st place votes), Rod Beck finished 18th, and Mickey Morandini finished 24th. Sosa finished 4th in OPS (1.024), 2nd in Slugging % (.647), 1st in runs (134), 5th in hits (198), 1st in total bases (416), 2nd in HRs (66), 1st in RBIs (158), 4th in Adj. OPS (160).
Kerry Wood won the Rookie of the Year, followed by Tommy John Surgery. In 1998, Kerry led the NL hits allowed per 9 (6.32), strikeouts per 9 (12.58), 3rd in strikeouts (233), while being the 4th youngest player at 21 years old.
#24 1933 Cubs (86-68 3rd place): This is team that followed the 1932 NL Championship squad, this was the 1st full year season for manager Charlie Grimm and his banjo playing abilities. This team had not had a particular standout season, they did have a run differential of 90 runs and pythagorean record of 90-64, 2 games better than their actual record.
This was a team mostly built on pitching, HOF'er Gabby Hartnett had a solid season finishing 5th in HRs (16) and 7th in RBIs (88). Babe Herman also contributed offensively finishing 3rd in Slugging % (.502), 5th in OPS (.855), 8th in Total Bases (255), 6th in Doubles (36), 3rd in Triples (12), 5th in HRs (16), 6th in RBIs (93), and 4th in Adjusted OPS (142). Hartnett did finish 18th in MVP voting, the highest among Cubs positional players.
As previously mentioned, the 33 Cubs were largely built on pitching, they had the second lowest ERA (2.93) and had 3 starters in the top 10 of ERA. Lou Warneke finished 2nd in ERA (2.00) after leading the NL in 1932. He also finished 6 in wins (18), 1st in CG (26), 4th in strikeouts (133), and 4th in shutouts (4). Guy Bush led the Cubs in wins (20) finishing 2nd in the League, 5th in winning % (.625), and 4th in shutouts (4). Charlie Root rounded out the big 3, he finished 5th in ERA (2.60).
#23. 1904 Cubs (93-60 2nd place): The 100 year anniversary of the club that finished 2nd to the NY Giants. This team had an 82 run differential, their pythagorean W-L record was 87-66 (-6). This team has its fair share of superstars 4 HOF'ers that included the famous trio of "Tinkers to Evers to Chance" and 3 fingers Mordecai Brown.
John Evers was only 22yo. and had not began to develop into the offensive player he would later in his career, his OPS + was only 93 in 1904. Joe Tinker was also just starting out, only 23yo. and had an OPS+ of 80, down from 1903 (109). While Tinker or Evers were never offensive superstars, each of their 1904 seasons were far lower of things to come from them offensively. Frank Chance was in the prime of his career at 26yo. and was in the midst of 4 straight season of an OPS+ of 150 or higher. Chance finished the 1904 season 6th in batting avg. (.310), 4th in OBP (.382), 5th in Slugging % (.430), 4th in SB (42), and 4th in OPS+ (150).
The pitching staff contained 5 pitchers with 15 or more wins, led by Jake Weimer with 20. Weimer also finished 4th in ERA (1.91), 2nd in H/9 (6.71), 4th in K/9 (4.09), 3rd in strikeouts (177), and 5th in Adjusted ERA+ (136). Brown led the team in ERA (1.86) despite finishing 5th on the team in wins (15), also finished 4th in Adjusted OPS+ (142).
#22. 1934 Cubs (85-65 3rd place): Led by player-manager Charlie Grimm, this Cubs team featured the acquisition of Chuck Klein who had won the Triple Crown the previous season with Philadelphia. Klein led the team in Slugging % (.510), OPS (.882), and Adjusted OPS+ (136). He would not repeat his success of 1933 during his tenure with the Cubs, but would be steady from 1934-1936. The offense had other stars like Gabby Hartnett, who led the team in HRs and RBIs as well as Babe Herman, who finished second with 84 RBIs.
Lou Warneke was the only pitching star on the squad, finishing 8th in ERA (3.21), 3rd in wins (22), and 2nd in WHIP/9 (10.47).
This team had no standout performances as Warneke finsihed 13th in MVP voting, Hartnett finished 14th, and Herman finshed 16th.
#21. 1928 Cubs (91-63) 3rd place: Another team good enough to be on the list, not good enough to finish above 3rd place. Like the 1904 team, this squad had several HOF'ers that included Gabby Hartnett, Hack Wilson, Kiki Cuyler, and Woody English. The 28' Cubs had a run differential of 99 runs and Pythagorean record 87-67 (-4).
The offense was led by Hack Wilson who finished 7th in MVP voting after leading the League in HRs (31), 3rd in OPS (.992), and 3rd in Adjusted OPS+ (158). Harnett had an outstanding season finishing 7th in OBP, OPS, and Adjusted OPS+. Kiki Cuyler also led the League in SB (37) and finished 9th in HRs (17).
The pitching was led by rookie Pat Malone and Sheriff Blake. Pat Malone in his 1st year, finished 6th in ERA (2.84), 2nd in strikeouts (155), and K/9 (5.57). Sheriff Blake finshed 2nd in ERA (2.47), H/9 (7.82), Adjusted ERA + (155). This duo helped the 1934 Cubs lead the League in allowing the fewest runs scored.
#20. 2003' Cubs (88-74 1st place) Probably one of the more sudden teams coming off a horrible 2002 season. This squad featured a below avg. offense, great young pitching, and even greater expectation in 2004. Beyond all the nonsense created by Game 6 vs. Florida and the upset of Atlanta in the 1st round, this team overachieved, but was still a great season. All this was created until the highly visible, energetic, 1st year manager Dusty Baker.
This team had a 41 run differential and a Pythagorean record of 85-77 (-4), which was largely created due to the fact because as they struggle to scored runs (9th in the NL), they were able to prevent runs (3rd in ERA).
There were some bright spots on offense, Mark Grudzielanek was able to shock everyone having his second best season out of 9 seasons in a great trade by GM Jim Hendry. Sammy Sosa despite the injuries, age, and corked bat, still produced a 40HR season and led the Cubs offensively in most catagories and what could be the most important factor; the development of Corey Patterson.
But, this team was clearly built on pitching, Mark Prior had established himself as the best young pitcher since Doc Gooden finishing 3rd in the Cy Young voting, 9 in MVP voting, 2nd in wins despite missing a month (18th), 2nd in strikeouts (245), 3rd in ERA (2.42), and 2nd in Adjusted ERA+ (175). Kerry Wood had continued to improve, able to post career high in wins (14) and ERA (3.20), while leading the league in H/9 (6.48) and strikeouts (266). Carlos Zambrano was probably the biggest darkhorse as the former upper-tier prospect finished 7th in ERA (3.11) and established himself as one of the best #3 starters in the League.
Like a bad Cubs memory, I have decided to return and create another blog. My previous site Any team can have a bad century has been turned over to DJ, who has done an outstanding job with the site. If you have any comments on my site or my writing style or content, feel free to leave them here.