Snappin' the Streak- Cubs 1, Brewers 0

It's good to be home! The Cubs returned home after a 3-2 road trip for a four game set against their division foe, the Milwaukee Brewers. The Northsiders pulled off a 1-0 victory to snap the Brewers' eight-game winning streak.

Kyle Hendricks took the mound for the Cubs and he was magnificent! He picked up his second win on the season by pitching seven strong, scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out five. Hendricks really didn't give the Brewers anything to work with offensively, as all four of their hits came with two outs in the inning.

For the Brewers, Chase Anderson pitched a pretty good game too. He only allowed two Cubs to reach base in the same inning just once all night. His only flaw over his six innings of work was a pitch to Kyle Schwarber that sailed out to right field for a home run putting the Cubs up 1-0. With Schwarber's home run, the Cubs extra-base hit streak against the Brewers was extended to 42 games, dating back to April 26, 2016.


Source: FanGraphs

It wasn't until the 8th that the Cubs actually had another decent scoring chance. Willson Contreras and Albert Almora hit back-to-back one-out singles to bring up Kyle Schwarber. Unfortunately, Schwarber grounded into a double play to end that inning without the Cubs obtaining any insurance runs. The bright spot in that inning however, was Almora's single by which he extended his career-high hitting streak to nine games. Almora has also contributed significantly to the Cubs ranking 1st in the National League and 2nd in the majors in combined batting average for outfielders.

We braced ourselves for the 9th inning as Brandon Morrow took on the top of the Brewers order with a precarious one run lead. Lorenzo Cain led off that inning with a single, and in a one run ball game, that feels huge. Fortunately for the Cubs, Christian Yelich grounded the ball to Javier Baez who stepped on the bag at second and shot it over to Rizzo at first for a double play. That alleviated a lot of tension, but it wasn't over just yet as the infamous Ryan Braun stepped up to the plate. Braun reached base on a lucky infield single to keep the inning and game alive for the Brew Crew. Travis Shaw was up next and he hit a long fly ball to Ian Happ for out number three, which won the game for Hendricks, and gave Morrow his 5th save.

Tomorrow, the Cubs will send a struggling Yu Darvish to the mound and he's still looking for his first win. He will be opposed by Brent Suter. Game time is at 1:20 CT and the game can be watched on NBC Sports Chicago.

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  • Harry would have said, "one more biscuit for breakfast and that one woulda been outa here!" I was sure glad to see Happ snag that final out.

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    There was some great defense played today. Of course Albert A, but Javy had a few good plays and even that 1st baseman for the Brewers made a couple too. Schwarber looks so much different now in the way he approaches each at bat and that homer was a stroke that Phil Mickelson would be proud of. Pitching and defense wins a lot of games.

  • Fingers crossed that Bryant is back in the lineup tomorrow. I hope he's okay.

  • This was “The Kyle” game.

    Well done, Schwarber and Hendricks.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Right. Forget about the Benjamins in this game. It was all about the Kyles! Hendricks with 7 innings of shutout ball against the hottest team in the league who is also first in our division. Schwarber with the lone run scored, lone RBI, lone everything having to do with offense in this game.

    Bravo Kyles!

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    In reply to HefCA:

    I haven't "forgotten" about the "Benjamins." I just remember that he (Mr. Zobrist) is on the DL.

  • Ok, I'm just going to go ahead and say it. This team has turned the corner. I don't want to jinx anything, but, 1-0 victories get me feeling pretty confident. The batting order is falling into place with the new daily double at the top. Now, if Yu can get comfy.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I hope you're right 44slug. While they've only scored 2 runs in the last 2 games, it was against good pitching and they only KO'd 3 times last night which is something I do look at. They have consistently been putting the bat on the ball even in games where they haven't scored a lot of runs. Encouraging indeed. I also remained highly encouraged by Javy and Schwarber that they might actually continue this for a majority of the season.

    Now if we can only get the #3 & 4 starters to be CONSISTENT as well. Yu going today and then Q going tomorrow will tell more. Who will show up Jekyll or Hyde ????

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Yes, I hope that I an correct too. Finding someone or two to grab that top of the order makes a huge difference. I just could not get a vision stretching this offense into productive consistency. Now I have hope.

  • I got some inside information. Kris Bryant hasn't played because he's gun shy about stepping in the box. It's sounding like ptsd, very unfortunate. On a brighter note keep up the good work schwarber, build that trade value back up

  • In reply to bolla:

    I highly doubt the reason Bryant is not playing because he is gun shy about batting.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    He wouldn't be the first. When one takes a shot to the head like Kris did, it often takes a minute to get ones wits back. We will see.

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    In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    It is possible that it is something else. But it is not easy to predict which players will have a hard time dealing with nearly getting hit in the head.

    I was reading a baseball book this past winter and it told a story about Dwight Evans. The story was that he got hit and was gunshy about being in the batters box. Then in ST (I think it was 1981) one of his teammates commented, "He's not scared anymore" and he went on to have a monster year. I am as big of an admirer of Bryant as anyone. But he is not completely superhuman. And he might well be a little rattled.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    The pitch that hit him was odd because Kris didn't duck, back up, or was he on his say to the ground. It just smacked him In the noggin.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    way to the ground

  • In reply to bolla:

    More inside information? Is this from the Brewers blog from the Brewers executive? wink wink.

  • I still look for KB to go on the concussion DL and think when he does come back, he will be wearing a helmet with the guard like Javy and Jhey Speaking of Jhey, he has been close the last two nights to big, big hits only to have the dinger be just foul and then the dingy rob him with the dive last night. Today might be the day the worm turns.

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    In reply to KJRyno:

    If he just keeps making hard contact some of them WILL go through. If he hits that double last night the WHOLE feel of the game changes.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    I expect the DL as well, Bryant looked really whipped as he was helped off the field. The fact they didn't go down does not mean much. His legs were rubber.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I am wondering if it isn't physical symptoms but mental. I've heard Mike Krukow say that he was hit by a batted ball in the head, and it affected him for the next two years. There were particular pitches that he was too afraid to throw.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Bryant expected to be back in the lineup on Saturday

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    No need to go on the concussion DL since he does not have a concussion. I'll be surprised if he is not in the lineup tonight.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    I'd like to see the guard on his helmet. Baez (dental surgery) and Heyward (broken jaw/HBP) started wearing it for medical reasons, and I hope more players will adopt it before the fact.

    Speaking of J-Hey and the discussion about Bryant's possible mental hesitation getting back in the box, it certainly happens. Heyward said it took him nearly two years before he was completely comfortable against certain types of lefties.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    My son plays little league and he wears a face mask, like the girls to in softball. He likes it because he thinks it looks cool; I like it for safety. The first game of the season, a kid fouled a ball off and it went right into his face. He now has real, real trouble standing in the batters box. He's only eight.

  • I find it interesting how the season is shaping up. On the big front Baltimore, ChiSox, KC, TEX, Miami, Cincinnati are dive bombing while disappointing starts include, WAS, LAD, SF, Minn and possibly NYY are playing for the first WC.

    Cubs front, Schwarber and Baez are reaching their upper ceiling, Bryant is questionable until he is not, Almora is securing CF, Heyward is leveling out, Darvish is adjusting as usual for a top FA, and the bullpen is strong.

    One note is the possible interest in Machado in a major deal that would include Russell and long term deal. That would fundamentally change the lineup and infield defense. Machado is sporting a 1.000+ OPS, but also rumored to be peaking at TB's roster. Well, I think we might see some changes.

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    I am one of the most skeptical of Baez. I believe he is supremely talented just like everyone else. But he always seemed undisciplined at the plate to me. Like he believed his talent could take him places without having to have a distinct plan at the plate like guys such as Bryant and Rizzo seem to have.

    I don't know how long he will be able to continue his current run and I would like to see him draw more BB (since April 6 he has a 3% BB%).

    That being said he is starting to get close to a level where SSS doesn't apply, or is less of a qualifier. By the end of the weekend I expect him to have over 100 PAs.

    As I dig deeper into his numbers they back up what we are seeing at the plate. When I evaluate a player I want as broad a scale as I can find. I get suspicious when I see something that doesn't quite add up. A pitcher with a low ERA but low BABIP and low K totals makes me suspicious that his "luck" will turn. Javy might have actually changed. He isn't swinging wildly at pitches he can't even reach. He is swinging at pitches in the zone and he is hitting them. His Hard% is at a career high. His HR/FB ratio is pretty skewed (around 30%!!!) but it isn't like he isn't doing damage when he doesn't hit HR. He is hitting the ball to the opposite field more than the last 2 years. His BABIP for the year is in line with his previous 2 years (nearly 1000 PAs in those 2 years).

    I expect some of his numbers to drop (since April 6 his BABIP is over .360) but not necessarily tank. If he can do .290-.295/.340-.355/.550-.650 I will say, "Where do I sign?" Because he will be getting that production with plenty of power, good defense and baserunning and all the intangibles we can look for. And if he can keep his K% <22% he may well end up on the HIGH end of that scale.

    My bellweather for Javy is still when he starts swinging at pitches well outside the zone (either 6" off the outside corner or above his shoulders). EVERYONE does that occasionally. Sometimes they are just plain fooled. Kudos to the pitcher. But when Javy starts doing it regularly I will be really interested in how he responds. If he can stop the spiral within 2-3 games I will be more than satisfied. And I am starting to believe that he has the maturity to do that now. In the past he did not.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I've noticed a couple times recently that after a wild swing at a ball that bounces in the dirt Javy will turn and give a knowing gesture towards the dugout, acknowledging his mistake. It won't go away instantly and completely, but the frequency is trending in the right direction and he is very aware of it.

    The biggest difference I've seen and read about is he is being much more aggressive swinging at balls in the zone. I've always thought one of his biggest problems was pitch recognition. He didn't seem to know where the ball was going when he decided to swing. He's making great strides in recognizing pitches and attacking balls he can handle. I heard him comment the other day that he is seeing the ball now as soon as it comes out of the pitcher's hand, basically admitting that hasn't always been the case.

    Of course he can't keep up these ridiculous numbers, can he (?). But as you say, a look with the eye test and a deep dive into the numbers shows this improvement isn't a fluke.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    I am honestly surprised it has continued this long. We have seen Javy have "good weeks" before. But this is getting too long to be excused as that.

    I hadn't noticed him making the gesture. But it wouldn't surprise me either so I will assume it is true. And as I said in my post, EVERYONE sometimes gets fooled If that weren't the case K% would be in the high single digits and low teens for everyone.

    I remember watching one of his PAs last night and seeing a fastball several inches off the plate. In the past he MIGHT have taken a hack at it. This time he let it go for the "ball" it was. He hasn't really looked "overmatched" in weeks. Not swinging as much at pitches above his shoulders either.

    I honestly don't mind it when he takes "a big cut" at a pitch in the zone and simply misses it early in the count. Again, that happens. Remember the change-up that Kyle got away with against Braun?

    I am just curious what will happen when he goes into a "slump"? Or, more importantly, how long it lasts before he "rights the ship."

    But now that his BABIP has settled into a "normal" range for his career and he is piling up PAs things are starting to solidify in my mind. A mind that has been more skeptical of his success than many commenters here. I don't think he is able to do a .300/.370/.630 slash line. But modest regressions off of this I do find more plausible...and still VERY exciting.

    I have quoted this line before but it just encapsulates so much about Javy: "Remember the time something big/good happened for the Cubs and Javy had nothing to do with it? Yea. Me neither."

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    ...and my mind has been more optimistic of his success as a consistent offensive force than many commenters here. :) He's going to take those big swings, that's just who is. I don't think he ever gets his walk rate up to 10℅ regularly, but I think his K-rates will continue to drop long-term. Less K's and not many more BB's means more batted balls in play, which is where Javy will do his damage.

    I'm also curious to see how he handles the inevitable slump. I think those will become less frequent and less lengthy. For all the reasons we've both noted, I think this is real progression and sustainable.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Like I said, I don't mind him taking a big hack at a "first-ball-fastball."

    I do think he could get his BB% up. If he continues to lay off of pitches outside the zone I think he can narrow that as he becomes better at it. If he can maintain a K% in the 18-22% range I am fine with that.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I'll say this, Joel. I think the discussion you and I are having, along with the comments I've seen Kramerica20 posting, perfectly illustrate my love/hate relationship with numbers. I love numbers, my problem lies with how they are used. They are there and seemingly concrete, but wet concrete can be manipulated. They are not an answer but a piece of the puzzle.

    We as fans look at the numbers. They seem to make sense based on what we have seen. But they are the effect, not the cause. We see the zone percentages that Javy is swinging at, but Javy only sees a battle against a pitcher. We see the data in logical results; Javy has to see that ball at it's release point.

    I think this is a fascinating lesson in "numbers" comprehension. Dig into it, but try to figure out "why".

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I've had this thought, because Baez does look more tame to my eyes:
    I wonder if he's swinging at fewer pitches WAY out of the zone than before. His o-swing% is the same, but I wonder if now he's swinging more at pitches 6 inches outside rather than 2 feet outside. Like, what is his % of swings on pitches 2 feet off the edge this year compared to last year?

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    I think that is some of it. It just seems like he is making more contact. His contact rate outside the zone was better in 2016 but the quality of his contact is much better this year.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    I do try to figure out "why." But I use numbers to figure out why because they count things. The thing that generally gets me nervous about using "the eye test" is that is it not only subjective but also subject to "confirmation bias."

    When I am evaluating a player's offense I try to look at as broad a base of things that might cause the player problems as I can. I also try to find as many positive things as I can. I try to remember that XBH are worth more than singles and BB. If I see a number that stands out as significantly different than what everything else I try to find an explanation for it. But try to keep aware that it could just be an outlier.

    I look at the numbers in baseball using the "Victorian House" analogy. Let's say you are told to describe the inside of a large Victorian house. But you have to do so looking only through windows and cannot enter the house. The more windows you look through the better idea you will have what the house looks like on the inside. What rooms there are. What the floor plan is. What sorts of furniture is there and how is it arranged. What color the wallpaper is. What type of flooring is there, etc. You get the idea. If I am looking through windows and all of them say that the wall in a given room is yellow. Then I get to one window and, when I look through it, it is green that will get my attention. But I will try to determine whether there is something odd about that window or if there is something misleading about the other windows. Or is there just a play of light that makes things look a little different from this angle.

    It is an indirect and inefficient way to get to know the inside of the house. But if I can't get inside I believe that if we look through enough windows we can ascertain a lot about the interior of the house. And the larger the windows the better view I have (imagine sample size as "window size").

    In this analogy the house is the players actual contribution/talent. The windows are different "stats" that we can use to achieve insights.

    Obviously the analogy can/will break down at some point. I don't literally go around looking in people's windows--the police are really touchy about that.

    If I use only one number to make my point ("His fWAR is: ...") then it is because I see that as a simple, illustrative example of what I see as something that is true. I also try to find ways that things might be misleading.

    For instance, I had an interaction with rbrucato this week about Addison Russell. In the course of looking at his numbers I noticed that his K% has dropped but his Soft% increased. That is odd. It might be "noise." (just a weird thing that happened) It might be that he is exchanging K's for "soft contact." I don't think it is true because his Med% went down about the same amount, but it might be. Personally, I think it is that he probably had some batted balls that, in previous years, were considered met the criteria for Med% but they were slightly less hard hit so this year they fell into Soft%. I think this is true because his Hard% stayed relatively constant.

    Is it possible that I have confirmation bias when looking at numbers? Yes, of course it is. Which is why I enjoy coming on here and bouncing ideas off of the commenters/writers. For instance, JOHN, you, Michael E., Mike M., Kramerica, TC154, and OTHERS (I probably shouldn't give a list as it can never be exhaustive) have no trouble correcting me when I have strayed too far and I value that.

    I welcome an insight like you mentioning that he is saying that he sees the ball out of the pitcher's hand better. That is valuable information. It can also give me a possible causal relationship to give me a reason to believe that this good stretch is more than "noise."

    Tell you what, I will try to figure out "why" if you can figure out, "Does it matter." Otherwise, it isn't a "stat," it is a "fact." LOL

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Somehow I missed rbrucato on my "list."

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Joel, you strayed too far. When I look into Javy's house I see a unicorn pen.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    BP: That made me laugh out loud!

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Let me guess, BP. After you saw the unicorn pen you stopped looking.

  • I don't buy the gun shy theory. Sitting today, which is 4 plus travel day; however, he took BP yesterday, so they could easily get him normal live pitching in a closed park at home. Probably just being cautious and using Bote a bit until Zo returns. When Zobrist is activated, either Bote goes down or KB backdated and rests another full week if laceration is slow healing.

  • In reply to charactercounts:

    I'm happy that the medical tests didn't show signs of a concussion, but there can be a delayed action with head injuries. I was sucker punched by a inmate once and seemed ok, but weeks later I couldn't find my way home from the grocery store. Joe knew as he was at Kris' side in a heartbeat and stayed there. I'm not sure Bryant knew where he was at first. I'll take await see approach. There was more going than a laceration.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Exactly, just because he passed the concussion test doesn't mean there wasn't head trauma. If his reaction time is slowed even in the slightest, it could lead to another injury. If he suffers another head injury too soon it could be devastating to his career.

  • Took a look at Russell's underlying numbers after reading an article from CubsInsider.
    His chase rate is down 5.5%, and zone contact is up 6% (zone swing % is consistent with his norms). Discipline-wise, very good signs from Russell. His ground ball rate is also down 3% and his line drive rate is consistent with the rest of his career. Soft contact is up.
    I'm encouraged by these changes in discipline though. Right now may be a good time to buy low on Addison Russell.

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    I looked at the same numbers. A suddenly lower BABIP and large drop in K% is usually not sustainable.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    His K% is down more than 9%, his BB% is up 2%, and he's nearing 100 PA, which is usually a significant point of stabilization for K and BB rates.

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    That is why I am holding off on declaring him "washed up" at age 24.

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    The only somewhat plausible explanation I can think of would be that maybe he exchanged K's for "soft contact" (I think that went up). But SOME of that soft contact should result in hits ("swinging bunts" type situations). It just smells like he is due for a hot stretch like Javy is in.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    The CubsInsider article put it well: it's clear that approach changes have taken hold with Schwarber, and [probably] Baez. Russell has changed his approach too. He's just still working through it. It's taking hold

  • It's hilarious how schwarber gets all these excuses but baez is hyper analyzed when baez has consistently been better for YEARS. Now it's will it hold up lol. The athletic wrote an article suiggesting baez gets criticized because he's a flashy latino while lackey and 'schwarbs' get excuses because they are.... you know it's different for them they get more leeway

  • In reply to bolla:

    Lackey did get criticized, because he was bad. And a jerk. It's laughable to even compare them. It's arguable that Baez has been better than Schwaber "for years." Neither have been around very long at all, and Baez just had his first year as an [barely] above average hitter. Schwarber has a more polished approach. I think people are questioning whether Baez' success will hold for a few reasons:
    1) we have a much larger sample of him as a major leaguer than we do Schwarber. And in that sample, he has been wild and uncontained.
    2) he is still uber-aggressive, although I'd say he definitely looks less wild and more contained. His o-swing% is basically the same as ever. He's swinging at way more pitches in the zone. And he's crushing them. It's an unconventional approach change, and it only works as long as he keeps crushing the ball.
    3) I think part of it may be the Latino thing, although I don't think it's conscious if it's there. Baseball in the Latin culture is more exuberant and expressive than typical American baseball. So when we view Latin guys vs white guys, we know the expressiveness of the culture and somewhere we expect that flashiness and showiness. Add to it that Baez plays with more flash than most other players.
    Again, I don't think people are consciously watching and saying, "Latino = flashy." I do think it's there though. But more than anything, I think people are skeptical because Baez has proven himself to be a wild and untamed hitter with an awful approach, and we are in the midst of a sample of approximately 100 PA (where he hasn't improved his BB% or his o-swing %).

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Baez will always be an untamed hitter, even this scaled down current version is still wild at times. Baez full seasons in 2016 and 2017 were better than Schwarbers partial 2015 and awful 2017. As wild as Baez has been he’s hit .273 twice with good production as a part time player with + defense at multiple positions. Baez had the same drs as Bryant at 3b despite playing 1500 less innings at 3b in 2015. I don’t know why people expect/hope for Baez to be Joey Votto in the box that’s never gonna happen. As far as lackey the guy was borderline garbage and showed up teammates, umps and even the manager occasionally but I never heard anything about him respecting the game. It’s a blatant double standard backed by an ugly history of bias in America towards....you know. I feel like Baez gets extremely overanalyzed while less productive players get passes. The pirates announcers said they flat out don’t like baez last year because of how he plays the game which is ridiculous

  • In reply to bolla:

    No one is expecting him to be Joey Votto. They're just saying it's incredibly hard to be a productive hitter swinging at >40% of pitches outside the strike zone. Baez is still doing that this April. We'll see if his approach of swinging at more in-zone pitches works.
    As far as being better than Schwarber... come on, bolla. Look at the numbers. Schwarber's 2015 wRC+ was 155. Baez' 2016 was 94. Last year they were close to one another: Schwarber's OBP was .315 and his wRC+ was 102. Baez was at .317 and 98. Everyone talked all year about how bad Schwarber was, but the perception of Baez was that he had a good year. He had a 98 wRC+. That's 2% below league average, and it was his best year.
    The other guys don't get passes. People demanded a demotion or trade of Schwarber all last year. They've done the same for Happ this year. Both guys are white.
    No one has ever questioned whether Baez respected the game until Hurdle did it the other night, after losing a 10-run laugher. He was likely speaking out of frustration. I don't see an "ugly history of bias in America" present here. I think you, and the Athletic, are making something out of nothing.

  • In reply to bolla:

    tell me we aren't going down the minority road yet again.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    The athletic website mentioned it in an article, I’m just relaying the message and I agree with the premise sorry. Truth hurts

  • In reply to bolla:

    The only "truth" here is that some writers use unsubstantiated claims of "racism" to rile up gullible people. Don't fall for it.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    No I see it on this site too. Baez gets over analyzed, schwarber gets passes. The ire towards baezs mistakes is much stronger than schwarbers. Schwarber has had Several situations where he was in the box runners in risp and struck out, he's belly flopped and allowed runs in the postseason, he botched a ball on opening day *crickets*. This guy wrote an essay pinpointing minuscule data when baez had less k's,more rbi's than schwarber last season in less ab's. It's" just wait schwarber has the hit tool" etc etc excuses on top of excuses.I bet if both players were put on the trade block today baez would get better offers than schwarber. Outside of homer cub fans several people think schwarber is overrated. I'm not trying to start anything or make this a daily discussion it's just something I notice and it's wrong imo

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    In reply to bolla:

    Obviously both players have struck out with runners in scoring position. It has happened multiple times for both of them. You show me a player that hasn't struck out with runners in scoring position multiple times and I will show you a player with less than 20 PAs with runners in scoring position.

    As for comments about Schwarber's defense I have read plenty. Both online writers, commenters on this and other boards. If you haven't seen them that doesn't mean that they aren't there. He also belly flopped since the 2015 playoffs. There was plenty of talk on Opening day about his 2 errors. Fortunately the Cubs won anyway but he single handedly cost them several runs by misplaying the flyball to the wall by Dietrich and whiffing on that single that turned into a triple (don't remember the batter).

    As for the data you cite--and thank you for citing specific data--both players were very high K guys. And RBI are often a function of who was batting ahead of you and whether they were on base. I have had people tell me that Russell was almost as good of a player in 2016 as Bryant because he had nearly as many RBI.

    Likely we have a strong difference in how we value the statistic of RBI. These are fun conversations.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Next time you "see" it, call it out. "Racist" is a vile term to label someone with, and you'd better have more evidence than the fact that someone that you like is being criticized if you're going to throw it around. Rest assured that when you start calling people "racist," you're starting something.

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    In reply to bolla:

    Has Baez been "consistently better for years"? First of all, Schwarber came up in the middle of 2015. He missed all of 2016. And he struggled in 1/2 of 2017.

    Let's see if I can construct a case of "Schwarber has been better offenisively than Baez." This comes with a straight forward caveat: Baez is a MUCH better defender and baserunner. Any "analyzing" of these skills is usually done fawningly rather than depricatingly. But if you look people HAVE subjected Schwarber to similar analysis when it comes to defense and baserunning.

    My other caveat is that even if racism does exist in baseball and it is highly likely that Baez has been subjected to it that does not mean that we can't shouldn't subject his offensive production to analysis.

    I will try to pull offensive stats from numbers that will reflect on the player's contribution to the offense. As I can to try to construct a balanced view of them. Both players tend to have high K rates so that won't "skew" the data particularly other than depressing both players offensive outputs. Both players are also extremely powerful so the numbers I use will reflect that (wOBA and wRC+ both give a "bump" for XBH). I will not use BB% as this would be CLEARLY in one player's favor. I will use data to mitigate against bias. The "eye-test," I believe, would be subject to MORE bias than using data. Afterall, an wOBA doesn't much care if you are a "flashy Latino player" or "less likely to be a jeans model than the other guy."

    One last thing, I will not be including Schwarber's 2016 numbers since he only had a couple of PAs. I will also leave out Baez 2015 since he also had a limited number of PAs that year. If you are wondering, it doesn't really change the answer IMO. Also, both players are close to the same age (about 3 months apart) so we don't have one with an advantage of being older/younger. I will also only be using regular season stats. If you want to include post-season stats SSS applies (though they are not negligible number of PAs). Also, including post-season stats will not help your "Baez has been consistently better" so I don't think you can accuse me of "cherry-picking" to help my case.

    They are actually fairly close in PAs for this year. So we can use this year's data with the caveat that SSS still applies.
    Baez wOBA:
    2014: .248
    2015: Out
    2016: .316
    2017: .326
    2018: .444
    Career (1359 PAs): 0.316

    Schwarber's wOBA:
    2014: Drafted. Played only in minor leagues
    2015: .364
    2016: Injury
    2017: .333
    2018: .434
    Career (547 PAs): 0.351
    Schwarber has had a better wOBA every year and in his career.

    wRC+
    Baez:
    2014: 54
    2015: Out
    2016: 94
    2017: 98
    2018: 183
    Career: 95

    Schwarber:
    2015: 131
    2016: Injury
    2017: 102
    2018: 177
    Career: 118
    Schwarber has had a better wRC+ over his career by a fairly wide margin (over 20 points). And this year is the only time that Baez has had a better wRC+ and it is only by a couple of points. In fairness, the difference last year was only a couple points as well.

    Off fWAR:
    Baez:
    2014 -11.1
    2015 Out
    2016 -0.7
    2017 2.2
    2018: 9.4
    Career: -0.3

    Schwarber:
    2015: 12.2
    2016: Out
    2017: 0.9
    2018: 12.2
    Career: 19.5
    Schwarber by a mile! And that INCLUDES his bad year last year.

    "But Baez is a better 'clutch' hitter." Right?

    I will include a couple of numbers.

    WPA (This is a pretty good clutch number as it gives more credit to "higher leverage situations":
    Baez
    2014 -1.00
    2015 Out
    2016 -1.06
    2017 -0.47
    2018 1.09

    Schwarber:
    2015 1.46
    2016 Out
    2017 0.14
    2018 0.26

    I am going to give this one to Schwarber as he has never had a "negative" WPA while this season is the first time Baez has had a positive WPA.

    WPA/LI attempts to regulate WPA by factoring in opportunities. If a guy is never given a chance in high leverage situations it can skew the data. So we will include that to see if it adds context to WPA

    WPA/LI
    Baez
    2014 -0.89
    2015 Out
    2016 0.00
    2017 0.14
    2018 0.84

    Schwarber:
    2015 1.94
    2016 Out
    2017 0.90
    2018 0.84

    Schwarber has been equal to or better than Baez every year. FWIW I am surprised that they have IDENTICAL scores for this year. That is more surprising to me than, say, identical BA or H or something like that.

    Since Fangraphs "Clutch" stat is a calculation using the players' WPA and WPA/LI I won't include those numbers. But if you are curious, though, they show Schwarber to be a more "clutch" player each year and over his career if only in the sense of "less un-clutch" over his career other than this year. But since you said, "consistently" better I would rather use HUNDREDS of PAs rather than <100 to judge "consistency."

    Again, I tried to use stats that would capture each players contribution. I expressly ignored defense and baserunning and concede that Baez is better at both of them than Schwarber. And if you don't think that Schwarbers defense (and, to a lesser extent, baserunning) have been hyper analzed you haven't been reading the comments I have read.

    My point is also not to say that "Baez is a bad player," or even that "Baez is a far worse offensive player than Schwarber." That would be categorically untrue. There are some of us that look at the data and see a flawed player who seems to be breaking out. Everyone is happy to see that. But these are judgments that I feel are supported by the data rather than taking "flashy Latino" into account. You may look at the data and see something else. I do not pretend that this post will somehow change your mind. But I do intend that anyone reading it could see the possibility that those of us that don't "hyper analyze" Schwarber might be satisfied with Schwarbers offensive output every year of his career--INCLUDING last year--as well as his career numbers.

    I hope that Baez is having the break out year that this appears to be. But it bothers me that you have castigated people as holding Baez's minority status against him in some ledger of their analysis. Or subjected him to more intense scrutiny than another specified player who is not a member of a minority. Again, I do believe that racism exists and do not need to be convinced of that. But the analysis of Baez is not, in my opinion, a reflection of that.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Small error. Baez has a better wOBA this year but the difference is small. In fairness, Schwarber's adantage last year is small.

    But think of it like this:
    Years with wOBA OVER 0.330 between 2014-2017
    Baez: 0
    Schwarber: 2

    Years with wOBA UNDER 0.330 between 2014-2017:
    Baez: 3
    Schwarber: 0

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Excellent Work. I was pleasantly surprised by all this

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Honestly I was surprised how one-sided it was. Obviously if we include baserunning and defense it would have come out very differently.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Cool we'll agree to disagree. Good post though

  • Oh look the NL Rbi leader just knocked in another one. Let's keep over analyzing him to see if it will last

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    In reply to bolla:

    Just for the fun of it you can take Baez in a bet and I will take "the field" as far as end of year RBI leader. OK?

  • fb_avatar

    All the talk lately about Javy and Russell reminds me of the conversations we were having in 2014 and 2015 about Starlin Castro. Some people saw him as an exciting young player who was bound to "break out" sometime. Others saw a mediocre player who got popular as the "least bad" player on some really bad Cubs teams.

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