I HATE that *Expletive Deleted* Song; Braves 4, Cubs 1

thehate

Tuesday night's game saw the Cubs get just about every bounce and call their way in order to pull off an improbable win.  Braves fans are some of my least favorite in baseball, so it was fun to see them get riled up.  These are the people that hung signs in the 80s that said "Go Braves, and take the Falcons with you!" Okay, that's actually pretty funny.  Still, they are notorious bandwagon fans (is there any fan base that isn't accused of this?) that were so spoiled in the 90s, they hardly supported a merely good team in the early aughts.

It would have been nice for the Cubs to come into Wednesday night's game and just take it to them.

Tyler Chatwood was on the mound - he had walked at least five batters in five of his first seven starts on the season.  It was somewhat of a shock, then, when his first pitch of the game was straight down the middle of the plate...and absolutely drilled to right-center field by Ozzie Albies for a lead-off double.  A Ronald Acuña ground-out later, Freddie Freeman drove in Albies for a 1-0 lead.

To his credit, Chatwood came back, getting Nick Markakis to ground in to an inning-ending double play.  In fact, Chatwood had one of his strongest outings as a Cub tonight.  He was able to control his stuff much better, and only ended up walking two on the evening.  He drew a mix of ground balls and fly outs, and while he occasionally gave up some hard contact, the dam never broke.  He was challenged in the fourth inning, when Tyler Flowers (this guy again) doubled with two outs and a runner on.  However, the ball hit the foul-line fence and took a fortuitous bounce for the Cubs.  Kyle Schwarber was able to pick the ball up relatively quickly and hold Markakis at third base.  Perhaps we'll start to see fewer teams run on Kyle's arm.  Luckily, Chatwood was able to induce a weak fly ball by Ender Inciarte to end the inning.

In the meantime, the Cubs had a few chances that they were unable to capitalize.  In the first inning, Kris Bryant was stranded on second base after a one-out double.  Javy Báez led off the second inning with a single, but would advance no further.  In the third inning, Albert Almora Jr. got to second base, though it was with two outs, before the inning ended on an Anthony Rizzo line drive to Albies at second base.  You know how lead-off walks always come back to haunt Cubs pitchers? Well, it didn't affect Brandon McCarthy when he walked Willson Contreras to start the fourth inning.  Strike outs by Báez and Schwarber followed, and the inning ended with a routine fly-out to right field by Addison Russell.

Oh yeah - there was *one* Cubs highlight in that mix.  In the second inning, Flowers smashed a long fly ball to center field that looked to be headed for at least extra bases.  In perfect stride, Almora leaped, and used the wall to extend his glove hand to make a beautiful catch.  I know that Chicago Now has gotten pretty...busy...with all sorts of ads and videos, but this one is worth a watch.

The Cubs did finally get to McCarthy in the fifth inning.  Again, the lead-off batter reached base.  This time it was Ian Happ, who singled sharply to left field.  Chatwood bunted him to second base on a sacrifice for the first out.  With two outs, after an Almora strike out, Kris Bryant came through with a base hit to tie the game.  His line drive into left field fell just in front of the diving Acuña.

Chatwood made it through the fifth inning without incident, even enticing a second double play to end the inning.  However, he was given a quick hook in the sixth inning after retiring one batter.  With the dangerous Freeman due up, Joe Maddon came out to replace him, even though he'd only thrown 79 pitches on the evening.  Chatwood was visibly upset by the decision, but Brian Duensing came out anyway.  After walking Freeman, Duensing got Markakis to ground into his second double play of the game - a nice 3-6-1 effort to end the inning.

At this time, my two year-old has a few thoughts he'd like to share about Chatwood's early removal:

vv                                       .,vvfdgbgb,m mhbm,h m                         bn n , nb

Very little happened in the seventh and eighth, save (of course) a wasted lead-off double by Russell in the seventh, and a lead-off single by Bryant in the eighth.  Perhaps most infuriating is that Anthony Rizzo got ahead 3-0 against hard-throwing lefty A.J. Minter, but popped up to third base when given the green light.  Man, I know that Joe gives his guys the benefit of the doubt, and it wasn't a bad pitch (at about the knees), but with the way Anthony's going over the last few days, I think I'd get him on base any way I can.  Willson Contreras then hit an impossible eye-level fastball into center for a base hit to put runners at first and second to set up Javy and Schwarber to be heroes.  Neither could get it done.

Wasn't it the eighth inning that was such a problem last year? Well, it happened again tonight.  Carl Edwards Jr. has been mostly very good this season, but tonight...let's just say that I'm ready to be done seeing Albies and Acuña for a while after tomorrow's series finale.  Albies led off with a double, then was singled home directly.  Freeman bounced a single to the unoccupied left side of the infield, and Acuña smartly advanced to third, which was ultimately covered by CJ.  Freeman advanced to second behind the play.  At that point, the walks began; first with an intentional walk of Markakis, and then the unintentional, run-scoring variety by Flowers.  Yuck.

Here's the toddler with his thoughts:

.n fhgm,m ,, gh.,.

All the while, that incessannt chant/song was going on - hence the Major League reference.  It should have died out in the 90s, and yet, here we are.

Edwards was dispatched to the showers, and Justin Hancock was brought in to finish the inning...which included walking in another run.

This may not be so bad, I thought - we got to Arodys Vizcaino last night...

After a 1-2-3 9th, that was all she wrote.

Source: FanGraphs

Going Forward

Jon Lester will take the mound for the Cubs in the rubber match of the series.  He will face Mike Soroka, a Canadian who apparently was not good enough to play hockey.  Let's steal another win from Atlanta, and leave Ozzie and Ronnie behind, shall we?

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  • It appears CJE was jinxed by the “elite” article. He has had 3 awful outings in a row.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Starting to think he is what he is a very good reliever who will never have the consistency or durability to be great but I'm not discouraged by him getting beat by 2 elite young and red hot young players in Albies and Acuna. I wouldn't be surprised if he's a bit fatigued as he's on a career high rate for innings and appearances and I think that's a by product of joe pulling his starters too early. I understand if it's lackey, eddie butler, etc. but I think on a day when Chatwood was limiting the walks and dealing you've gotta let him go longer. We complain about our starters not eating innings but the reality is Maddon isn't giving them a chance to go deep into games even when they've seemingly earned the opportunity based on good performance. Back to CJ Edwards though I think we also have to take things into context and remember that he's getting beat by Albies and Acuna who are clearly not only really good but extremely locked in versus the cubs this season. I'd guess Albies overall numbers this year wouldn't even look that great if you take away his performances against us boy is he wearing down our pitching staff this season.

  • I think your kid has a future in journalism. Those quotes perfectly summed up how I felt those last couple innings.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    He's more coherent than I am - particularly the last weeks of the school year.

  • In reply to Sean Atchley:

    As long as you steer him away from the language I actually used, it's all good.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    He is at that stage of repeating everything I say. I'm mostly good, but I caught him yelling at the dog tonight. "God dang it! No! Get back!" Need to invest in earmuffs.

    I apologize for teaching my child to use the Lord's name in vain.

  • We’re essentially one quarter through the season and the Pirates, Braves and Dbacks lead their respective divisions. The Dodgers are as bad as the Reds and Marlins. The Cubs and Nationals do look poised for a run. But the National League, at least so far, is not a predictable as projected,

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    That's very true. I know Theo recently said we won't trade for a rental, but also left the door open. That's what he should say. When and if we pull away after the AS break, as we usually do lately, and the NL pennant is there for the taking, all bets are off, IMO. The question is what are our needs? I don't think we know yet.

    You mentioned in the game thread that you didn't mind Chatwood being pulled so early, and that you've always wanted an analytically-driven FO. I agree for the most part. I trust this management and have learned a lot following them. I am very concerned about the early bullpen usage, but keep telling myself they must have a plan. I'm looking forward to learning the new lesson they are about to teach me, and I'm hoping it's a positive one.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I personally might have kept Chatwood in there. He was at only 79 pitches, and I can understand the argument that him going six makes sense. But I do believe that Maddon is provided with statistical information that tells him that Chatwood facing two lefties a third time has a greater chance of failure than if Duensing pitches. And the team is guided by information.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    I agree with your comments, BP. Like you I am worried about bullpen usage. Which is part of the reason why I am one who actually likes the 13-man staff. If the starters can start throwing 6IP on a regular basis we will be fine. If we keep getting 4.2 on a regular basis things are going to get "exciting" in August/September.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I get the early bullpen usage is just a metrics related trend in the game but our starters are never going to go deep into games if Maddon doesn't give them a chance. Now I'm good with keeping inferior pitchers like a john lackey, eddie butler, jason hammel, etc on a shorter leash but Chatwoods the type of guy who showed he can pitch deep into games when he's on with colorado and on a day when he's limiting the walks I'd like to see him get a shot to go deeper into games. This usage of our high leverage relievers isn't even close to sustainable and I'd have liked to think that Maddon learned last season the effects of going to your bullpen too early. It's almost like Maddon is as aware of resting players as any coach I've seen but he only applies this in practice to our position players and starting pitchers. I like Maddon and I can do without all the criticism of his lineups but pitching change management has always been the one aspect of his management where he's weakest overall. I just don't agree with the philosophy of pulling starters when they're seemingly on top of their game

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I agree with most of what you are saying. My only question is what can't your "inferior pitchers" go deeper? Let those guys be a fall guy. Let those guys throw 105 pitches and get thru 6 innings just to save the bullpen. If it is is 3-2 i get it but having cishek throw 150 games is crazy. Save the Pen

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    My thing on this is they have numbers on how well certain pitchers do when they go through the batting order multiple times. Guys like Eddie butler or jason hammel had clear statistics saying that guys tend to hit them the 3rd time they see them and this isn't surprising given both pitchers lack of swing and miss stuff they're just more hittable and hitters clearly see them better than our other starters. But a guy like Chatwood who actually has the lowest opposing batting average on the team I believe I'd rather see him kept in a bit longer especially with only 78 pitches and I liked how he limited the walks all game. In addition not only was he pitching well but we're at a point in time where our relievers are clearly overworked and we needed a lengthy start. We all complain about our pitchers not going deep into game but it's hard for them to do that when they're dealing yet Maddon takes them out if they even allow a single baserunner to reach 1st and this is one of many times this practice has occurred. I understand the metrics generally say go to your bullpen when your starter gives up baserunners late in their starts but this isn't a sustainable practice for me over 162 games. I'm ok with going to your relievers earlier in a playoff game maybe at times but I just can't see how our relievers can handle this type of workload moving forward. I've noticed with Edwards that he seems to have his worst games when he's been pitching a lot a certain week and he also seems to have a lot of bad games pitching on the 2nd day of back to back appearances. I don't think this is an accident and I think that CJ is a gifted pitcher but he's really skinny and has to be handled cautiously unfortunately. I hope Maddon adjusts his philosophy of changing starters because I'll never agree with the practice of taking out your starting pitcher in the 5th-6th inning in a game where they're dealing.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Agreed. I wonder about the starters ego, too, when the manager won't let him finish up an inning. I'd rather Joe had made the mound visit, said something to Chatwood to boost his confidence and then let him try to finish the 6th.

  • I can't explain with words how much I loathe that chant, or how disgangry it makes me!

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    I love to learn, and thought I might have discovered a new word in "disgangry", but even the Googles is failing me.

    I lived the 90's Braves. You know what bothers me even more than that song, and something I heard even more often? The phrase "There's just a different sound off the bat when Heyward hits the ball".

    Back then, that was meant in a good way.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Disgusted+Angry. ;)

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    We could do a whole thread on combinations like that. The Cubs were terucky last night! (terrible + sucky).

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    I hope we don’t turn out to be the 1990’s Braves. They won 14 Division titles in a row and only 1 WS win, and that’s with 3 HOF pitchers.
    We get a rare good outing from Chatwood with 3 key DP and a number of runners on and still couldn’t win. Exasperating!

  • Needsasammich needsadayoff......let’s get ‘em tomorrow

  • The most frustrating thing was the cubs had runners on multiple times and couldn’t even advance one base they just stayed at whatever base they were on

  • if you think that song/chant is annoying over the tv broadcast you should try hearing it live. Nails on a chalkboard. I was there on tuesday and the frat boy bandwagoners were out in force. though i would say that i'm pretty sure there were more cubs fans than braves in attendance.

  • Bottom line this team did not hit again the narrative for this feast or famine offense in 2018.

  • You know who else needs a day off is Javy. He looks just awful, guessing at pitches, pulling his head and swinging from the heels.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    I still don't understand why pitchers ever throw him a single strike. As has been pointed out, he had a 1.0+ OPS for a month without a single walk. That means to me that pitchers gave him pitches to hit. Maybe he was "controlling the strike zone" better then, but I am skeptical.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I mean, he still has a .571 slugging and still leads the NL in RBI. The guy clearly can hit almost any ball in the strike zone. But if you throw him enough pitches outside the strike zone he will swing at it like he's competing in an Olympic hammer toss. For the life of me, I do not understand pitchers sometimes.

  • Cubs are averaging 5.2 runs/game, but their median runs/game is 3.
    They've scored 3 or fewer runs 21 times, and 10 or more runs 8 times. Not sure which I'm more impressed by.

  • I have a feeling that a lot of fans are going to express frustration about the state of our offense in the coming week with the team seemingly in the midst of an offensive slump. Rizzo, Baez, Schwarber, and Happ are all collectively in major slumps at the same time and it's effecting the whole offense. I personally am not worried at all about Rizzo and even Baez as Baez tends to look awful like he's guessing ball/strike when he's slumping only to realize that he needs to get back to his early season approach of taking what the pitchers give him in order to be successful. It's still somewhat disappointing that Baez is regressing into the player he's been thus far in his ML career when at one time it looked like he was one of the most improved players in the game in 2018.

    Schwarber on the other hand I have a level of concern for him. He had about as hot of a start as we could've expected yet he's been so bad at the plate in May (under .200) that his average has declined to .240 and it's concerning to me just how poor he looks in general when he's not going well you almost feel like you can count on him getting out or at best walking but definitely not getting a hit. I said it preseason that I'd be happy if he can improve to .250-260 which with his high walk rate and power would be a nice offensive season and step forward. Now I'm not so much worried he's hitting .240 but moreso how rapidly his average dipped that low after such a red hot start. It's weird too because there's a lot of very encouraging signs behind the surface. He's only striking out 24% of the time down from 31% last year and he has a career high and fantastic 15.9% walk rate and I always think having a good K to BB rate is a nice predictor of improvement and future success for players. In addition and this maybe the weirdest stat of all but he ranks as the best Left fielder in all of baseball defensively as he is number one in UZR/150 on which is one of the most highly respected and valued defensive metrics in the game. This is based on his elite outfield assist rate with all these guys trying to run on his strong arm and contrary to public belief he's made all of the plays he's supposed to make. He's made all of his likely catches (catches fangraphs has as 60-90% catches) and all of his routine plays (90-100%). Whether you think defensive metrics are flawed or not, I don't think there's any question that you have to be incredibly encouraged about how favorable his defensive metrics are even if we all know he's no elite left fielder defensively. He's also rated as at least an above average left fielder using any defensive metric and not just UZR/150 for example (UZR, RngR, DRS, etc). For reference he was not rated as a good defender at all last year by all defensive metrics so great to see him show a significant improvement according to this years metrics and I think you have to give a lot of credit to Kyle and all of his hard work for this improvement. I think his footwork is way better out there in general while he's fielding a preparing himself to throw the ball. Hopefully, we can see more good Schwarber at the plate this year as well as the underlying numbers are pretty good.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I think Schwarber having the best UZR/150 stat shows how flawed defensive metrics are. There is no way Schwarber is the best defensive player in the league.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I don't think the stats are so much flawed (although they're imperfect) as much as they can't be taken as literally over limited sample sizes like a month of the regular season. I'm sure he'll make his occasional goofy mistakes out there moving forward which will bring his metrics closer to average than good but I think he's at least trending towards average and I think people aren't accounting for how many runs he has saved us with his strong throwing arm. I don't think there's any question that while I don't buy that he's good he's still displayed improvement out there with his fluidity and footwork and I for one think he's certainly he's taken a big step forward from where he was in April of last season for example although it's not always pretty looking with him. Remember his defensive grade is amongst left fielders who are typically among the worst defensive players on a teams roster. I think Schwarbers defensive grade is based off the fact that he hasn't really had any errors/misplays thus far and he's thrown out a ton of baserunners. Now I think part of the reason why he's thrown out a ton of baserunners is because teams want to test him defensively but maybe underrated the strength of his throwing arm which is playing up partially because I think his footwork out there has improved and he's getting his feet aligned properly to make a strong accurate throw. I think teams probably won't test the throwing arm as much moving forward and I'm sure he'll have his share of silly mistakes out there that negatively effect his defensive metrics. Either way though I think the fact that he's developed a plus throwing arm alone is going to make his defensive metrics play up moving forward and it's clear to me that he's progressing out there even though it may never look pretty.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Overall though I think he's proving that the notion that he has to be a DH and absolutely can't handle playing the OF just isn't really true although I admit he profiles best as a DH. We have to remember that LF is an offensive minded position and there are a large number of guys out there that aren't very good. Some of them even may look more fluid as outfielders than Schwarber but really aren't any better when you analyze their play closer and most of them haven't saved as many runs with their throwing arms as Schwarber has thus far. Give him credit there everyone bashes his OF play because he's never looked fluid out there or when he makes a misplay but then they shut their mouths when he surprises us and is among the league leaders in outfield assists.

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    All stats can be distorted. For instance, a player with a high BA who hits almost all singles may not be as valuable as a guy with a lower BA but draws a ton of BB, and has a large number of XBH. Defensive metrics are difficult partly because it is not as intuitive as most batting and pitching statistics. A H is relatively easy to get your mind around and easy to count. So is a 2B or a HR or a K. Similarly for pitchers it is easy to count hits given up, or K or BB, etc. Defense is more difficult. First of all their is the problem of a scorekeeper making an often debatable call of an E. For instance, there is a low throw to 1B and it would be a bang-bang play at 1B if the 1B catches it. But he doesn't and the player is unquestionably safe but does not advance to 2B. Should that be an error on the guy who threw it? Or should it be an error on the 1B? Or was it an exciting infield hit? Also players with superior range will often rack up more errors as they get to the ball and make an errant throw. Then you get into the decision of "should he have been able to make that play?" It would be the equivalent of asking if a swing and miss "should have" been hit so the player is docked in his BA as if he had made an out even though the PA isn't over.

  • Oh, I agree he has improved his defense. He also seems to have a pretty good arm. If Schwarber is number one in UZR/150 and Mike Trout is number 57. The stat is flawed and means nothing.

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I am pretty sure that UZR compares a player against players at the same position. So given the fact that Trout has played exactly 0 innings in LF and Schwarber has played exactly 0 innings in CF means that their numbers are not actually comparable in the sense of saying that "Schwarber is a better OF than Trout." Or, at least UZR 150 doesn't say that. And I would question the sanity of anyone making that claim.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    That is true UZR is intended to compare guys amongst all players at their positions. Schwarbers an outlier due to his high rate of OF assists so just because he has a higher grade then Trout overall you can't compare the 2 players because Schwarbers ranking is among all LF's while Trouts ranking is graded among all CFs.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    The stat says what it says. UZR/150 says Schwarber is by far the best left fielder in the game this year. I stand by my feelings that the stat is flawed and means nothing.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    You're right it is flawed when analyzing data over small sample sizes to a certain degree but respectfully myself and major league front offices disagree with your assertion that it means nothing and isn't a valuable tool to use to evaluate a players overall defensive contributions over a full season. We're just going to have to agree to disagree on its overall usefulness. John Arguello has actually had this conversation with several posters over the years and he explained the stat flaws and usefulness better than I can unfortunately.

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Actually UZR/150 does not mean that he is the best LF (or OF) in the league. It is evidence but not proof. To me it is analogous to saying, "What is all this talk about Machado? Why don't the Cubs get Odubel Herrera? He has the highest BA in the league. Therefore he is the best offensive player. His BA says so." BA does not give extra points for XBH, nor does it give credit for BB. This is why I prefer OBP, SLG, and OPS. But these aren't without their distortions either. Context is the key. While Herrera actually has an impressive slash line that isn't always the case.

    As far as Schwarber having a good UZR/150 "proving" that the stat is flawed and means nothing isn't true. It DOES mean something. A stat like fWAR tries to get everything a player does to help/hurt his team into one number. But that requires that it define what has value and what does not. It also requires that it be "weighted" properly. Baseball reference has their own bWAR. The fact that the number is often different between the two is evidence that it is not set in stone. That doesn't mean that it is meaningless and has no value.

    I still say that many that deride Schwarber's defense most will often point to his lack of grace in the field. Pointing to his "belly-flops." I think this distorts their judgement as much or more than UZR or UZR/150 do.

    When I am evaluating a player I look for as many things as possible to give me as well-rounded an image of that player as I can. Or, at least, as well rounded as I can get about a specific skill. When trying to evaluate Schwarber's defense I don't usually go into his prodigious power at the plate except, possibly, in my conclusion, saying he likely causes more runs than he gives up. I was surprised to see that Schwarber doesn't grade as badly defensively as I would expect given his lack of "athleticism" in LF. When I see a stat that surprises me I don't "dismiss" it but look for other things to support it. Or, conversely, will point out how that is flawed.

    For instance, let's look at 3 different Cubs players. My point isn't to show which one is a better hitter than the others but to point out how variable things can be and how looking at only 1 number can lead us to vastly different conclusions of who is best/worst.

    Here is a list of players by BA:
    Schwarber .241
    Contreras .277
    Baez .266
    Clearly Schwarber is well behind the other 2. If we determine best hitter using BA then that might appear to be a flawed statistic. It isn't flawed, IMO, but it doesn't measure a players batting skill, merely the percentage of the time a player has gotten a hit.

    Let's look at OBP:
    Schwarber: .362
    Contreras: .361
    Baez: .301
    Suddenly Schwarber looks much better than when using BA and Baez struggles. His OBP is inflated by a much higher BB rate than Contreras or Baez.

    But BB aren't as good as hits. If for no other reason other baserunners almost always advance on hits and not necessarily on BB and occasionally for more bases than the hitter gets (going 1st-to-3rd).

    Then we start looking at power (SLG):
    Contreras: .504
    Schwarber: .474
    Baez .571
    So, not only does Baez have the highest BA but he does more damage as well DESPITE fewer BB.

    And that is just 1st level stats. Then we start getting into things like K% vs BB%. Baez strikes out less than Schwarber, but he also makes a lot more outs because he doesn't draw BB. Contreras has a lower K% than the other two but his BB% is almost exactly between them. So, if we just look at 1 number we will come to vastly different conclusions of which of these three is the best hitter (leaving defense off as I think almost all will agree that Baez and Contreras are better and more valuable defenders than Schwarber). And this lack of BB starts taking a toll on the offense. DESPITE a higher BA and SLG% Baez has also made OUTS a lot more often than Schwarber or Contreras. This despite a similar number of PAs. Eventually that starts taking a toll on an offense. The 60 points Baez loses in OBP means that, over 500 PAs he gets out 25-30 more times. A game has 24-27 outs (normally).

    My point is that if we take a more well-rounded approach to looking at a player offensively the question of who is best comes down to what you value. If we christen any of these as, "definitive," we might come to a very different conclusion than if we look at them together. The same thing goes on defense. I seldom say, "This player is better because he has a higher Fielding Pct. (or UZR, or UZR/150, etc.)." I do sometimes say, "His fielding pct is lower but his DRS, UZR and UZR/150 are all much better and he grades out as above replacement level in fWAR."

    Schwarber still makes mistakes in the field. Opening Day was painful to watch in LF. But if he just learns to harness his arm and accurately and efficiently play balls that carom off the walls and possibly turn doubles into deep singles. He is capable of that. It doesn't require enormous speed nor "grace." But it does require that he learn how to judge when he can't catch it and put himself in an advantageous position to field it. Similar to Barry Bonds. As a young man he was fast but didn't possess a great throwing arm strength. But he knew how to line it up so that he was making a catch running forward so could do a crow-hop and make a stronger/more accurate throw than he could have had he simply set himself under the ball. It helped make him a good fielder as a young man. DESPITE not having a good throwing arm players didn't advance extra bases on him as often as you would expect because he knew how to compensate for it.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Probably the longest post I've seen on this site (it's longer than most articles on this site). But there's a lot of very good stuff in here. Well said

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    Thank you. It is far from my longest post, though. I had one a couple weeks ago comparing/contrasting Schwarber and Baez. I tend to get "word-y" sometimes. But I usually feel the need to explain my beliefs and thoughts which are usually more nuanced than, "X Sucks."

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    For instance, I think we had more to say about "Ol' 2-legs" Burns the other day than has been said/written in over 100 years. LOL

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I chuckled to myself thinking about him and his 2 legs (to be honest, I have no idea if he even had 2 legs) the other day, wondering if it ever crossed his mind to think that two random guys would make a joke on an internet comment section about him 130 years after his playing days.

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    I assume he was obsessed with the possibility and no one took him seriously when he said, "There will be some bozo at a box at work typing on a type-writer to another guy who held a thing that looked like a deck of cards in his hands." And that was the end of his playing career.

    Though now I am a little obsessed with finding out more about this guy. Though he will always be "Ol' 2-legs" to me.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Ha! I like to think that he told his teammates, "In 130 years, people will have access to more information than we could ever possibly comprehend. Infinitely more information than all the encyclopedias and almanacs ever written... And they will use it to discuss my plate approach."

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    And watch cat videos.

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    My rule, which I try hard to follow, is to ask a couple questions about any new stat I come across:
    1. What does is puport to measure?
    2. What is its formula?
    3. Under what conditions, regardless how implausible, can this stat be distorted?

    My post above was meant to illustrate how the same stat can yield very different results based on how much you value things. If your goal is to get as many hits and xbh as possible (certainly not a bad thing) then Baez is your guy. But because so few of his PAs end in BB he necessarily makes more outs than the other two. Schwarber is not as good a "hitter" as the other two but he has prodigious power and draws BB, though he also K's more. Contreras is the least extreme, but lacks a "standout" offensive tool that the other two possess.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    You did a really great job of breaking down the "why" of these stats and ideas, beyond just "here are the numbers."

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I tend to post long replies as well but that's what I love about Joel always has a ton of evidence and knowledge to back his assertions up. Nice breakdown Joel.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I think that's a real nice depiction of stats in general Joel and to add to what you said UZR is only measuring Schwarbers impact so far THIS SEASON. Obviously if he continues to gun down base runners on a month to month basis like he has thus far with no obvious misplays then I would say that he's a pretty darn effective defender but that's not realistic at the same time because base runners aren't just going to continue to test Schwarber's arm so I expect as his OF assists decline then his UZR will also begin to decline as he gets less opportunities to throw guys out and thus his rating will be based moreso on which fly balls he gets to and doesn't get to which we know isn't a big strength for Kyle.

    Frankly cubs 2016 I respect your opinion as an intelligent baseball fan but respectfully you don't seem to have enough of a general understanding of the concept of how the UZR/150 metric works to make an informed opinion on its usefulness. And that's not intended to be an insult I myself was skeptical about it at 1st but I've learned a lot about commonly used metrics through reading and this websites founder John Arguello has previously had this exact same debate with others and explained the concept of UZR/150 and its effectiveness and limitations better than I ever could. But to use Joel's example to illustrate my point, I can point to batting average like Joel said and say it's a crap statistic because the guys that are at the top of the leaderboards currently aren't even close to in line with who I think are the best hitters. Or I can point to errors and by that stat Javier Baez looks like a poor fielder (which we all know he isn't ). UX many times most stats are flawed when viewed through a small sample. It's the same with UZR as I'm sure the UZR leaderboard looks different now then it will by the end of the season.

    I think that's a good overall explanation though Joel and there's always going to be skeptics among those that don't fully understand analytics and metrics, but that doesn't make them any less significant or useful. A fundamentally known stat like UZR is a statistic whose usefulness is proven through basic statisticians and it's not really debatable at this point whether or not it's effective. These defensive metrics while not perfect are useful when getting a snapshot on analyzing these players defensive values over a large sample size especially and every front office in baseball utilizes these metrics as a large part of their decision making whether old school fans want to buy in to their effectiveness or not.

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    All stats have blind spots. Interestingly, UZR (and, therefore, UZR/150) HATES Javier Baez. Haven't gone into looking at what it is about him that grades so poorly on that particular group of stats. Really, they are just formulas that have varying degrees of reliability and validity. As we learn more about stats we learn to better interpret them.

    One of my favorite things about fangraphs glossary and Michael E.'s Prospect statistical updates is that they provide rough outlines of what is bad, below average, average, above averge, very good, excellent and things like that. Without knowing what these are it is easy to misinterpret any stat.

    What I am interested to see is if teams become more cautious on the basepaths against Schwarber. That might be more valuable than him throwing out the occasional runner. Think about it. If he throws out a runner that is an out and it removes a baserunner. But if teams take an extra base against him 20% less of the time than they do now (don't even attempt to go 1st-to-3rd or 2nd-to-home on a single) that can be even more valuable depending on how many baserunners there are.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I actually have an unproven theory about why Baez doesn't grade well and remember if I'm correct he did grade out very well in 2015 when he primarily played only 2B and 3B. To me I've noticed that he's nothing short of an ATROCIOUS shortstop when Joe maddon uses him at the position on an occasional basis like they are currently to rest Russell on certain days. Now I'm not saying he's a bad shortstop overall he was actually very good when Russell was out for an extended period of time and he had a chance to get used to playing the position on an every day basis. Even in that stretch though he made a ton of errors at SS initially after Russell first got injured then settled in and went over a month without an error while playing shortstop. But I've noticed that he seems to make an error almost every single game when Maddon has him play the position on an occasional basis to spell Russell. In addition he's been making a ton of errors this year overall either SS or not so while error is an imperfect stat, I do think his tendency to make mistakes esp. at SS play into his UZR at least this season and last season we have to remember that he played a ton of SS. It's my view that he's not a great SS because of his tendency to make mistakes at that position but he's a phenomenal 2B and 3B.

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    So your theory is that he needs to play a position on a regular basis to "feel comfortable" there and using him there occasionally (1x every 10-15 games) he is likely to struggle. But if he were left there for a more extended period (like 5-10 days straight) he would become an outstanding SS again? I am not arguing. It might be true. But just want to be clear what you are saying.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to kkhiavi:

    Interesting UZR/150 rate him below average as a 2B too. Though just barely.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to kkhiavi:

    THough, predictably, his UZR/150 at 2B is usually above average. Probably just a SSS thing.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    That's my basic premise Joel and just for reference my opinion changes on where Javy's metrics should stand on a year to year basis. I think he had a generally phenomenal defensive year in 2016 at 2B and 3B, a good year defensively at 2B and NOT SS in 2017, and I think his overall defense has been flat out bad this season due to all the errors at both SS and 2B. Now I think he's a great defensive player obviously and I've noticed with him that he seems to make his errors in bunches throughout his career so I think he's in a slump making the routine play routinely thus far this season which I expect him to improve on as the season goes on.

    But in 2017, I felt he was very strong at 2B then really struggled when they'd play him at SS occasionally. In addition when he replaced Addy at SS due to his injuries last season, I recall he made a ton of errors initially while replacing him before settling in at the position and not making an error for about a month and a half span. Overall though, I'd guess that his 2017 UZR due to all the errors was probably not that good at SS and still good at 2B although I though still believe that 2016 was his best defensive season thus far.

    In 2018, he's probably been worse at SS the days he's replaced Russell but I've noticed he's making a lot of mistakes at 2B too this season. Like I said I think Javy gets into bad habits at times and seems to make his errors in bunches (and usually at the beginning of the year) before settling in and playing tremendous defense for an extended sample size. I expect that's what we'll see this season especially if he spends most of his time at 2B.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    In addition for whatever reason he seems to be great at 3B regardless of whether he regularly plays the position and he seems to only be good at SS when he has a chance to settle into the position and play that position on a regular basis. So my theory is basically he has trouble adapting to playing SS when he doesn't play there on a regular basis.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I don't understand 100% how UZR/150 metric works. But, I do know enough to see it has flaws. Please don't assume to know what I know and what I don't know if I don't agree with your opinion. This blog is hear to talk baseball and not everyone is going to agree with everyone. That's one of the great things about baseball.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Agreed apologies if that came off insulting I just strongly disagree with the notion that defensive metrics are meaningless and I know front offices place a lot of value in them. They are flawed though especially when you reference them in mid-May and I agree that this blog is to talk baseball and not argue with everyone who you don't fully agree with. Looking at your replies with Joel it looks like I didn't correctly interpret everything you were saying as well.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    No problem kkhiavi. It is good to here other opinions. And I will say You and Joel changed mine on defensive metric stats. I agree with you guys that yes they are flawed but they are not meaningless. Just take them for what they are worth.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Nice post. A lot of thought there. Thank you for sharing those thought. I probably should not of said UZR/150 "means nothing". But, I do not take back that it is flawed. You can get a lot of information in all the offensive stats because they are made of things that can be measured for the most part. I still think the defensive stats are flawed though. That is why you still need human scouts. Nothing like the eye test for defensive ability.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Agreed nice discussion and it is flawed like most stats are. Especially this early in the season no question small sample size is why you're seeing Schwarber ranked so curiously favorably.

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    It is absolutely flawed. Every stat is flawed. As I said somewhere else, any stat with a decimal point is just a formula. It computes a value. The "value" is only as valuable as its interpretation. We know that a 2.00 ERA is likely a good pitcher. But it is still a flawed statistic as it might be a guy who has an extremely low (unsustainably low) BABIP. One of my favorite things about this site is that most of the commenters are very knowledgeable and are less likely than on other sites to get overly excited about a guy with a really small sample size and a really good set of numbers. I have been "corrected" plenty of times, almost always politely.

    And when you debate the numbers that go into the variables in a formula then you can legitimately question the outcomes. For instance, I don't think BA is particularly valid because it can make a player like Baez look a lot better than he is by eliminating BB. So a player with the ability to put the bat on the ball but not likely to take a BB is going to look better than he otherwise would. I don't know a lot about UZR. Certainly less than I know about most offensive stats that I use to illustrate things. I am open to listening to your critique of it. You say you know enough to see it has flaws. What, specifically, are the flaws that you see in it. I am not asking as a quiz but to probe what information you can provide me. As I said, all stats have flaws/blind spots and can make a player look better/worse than he actually is.

    I don't disregard "the eye test" and scouts but I take their information with a grain of salt, somewhat like you do with some stats. The reason for this is most, if not all, see the game through a lens (like everyone does). They have things that they "like" and things that they "don't like" based on their experience and their training. My favorite thing about numbers is that they are blind. They don't care how "good" a player looked making a play in the field, a funky delivery as a pitcher, or a weird swing in a batter. Because they are "recorded" and not "remembered" they are, I think, more accurate than a scouting report of a player. I think any scout will tell you you need to see a player more than 1-2 PAs to really evaluate them. But how well do they remember every detail of those PAs later? If they are "recording" something like notes then they are, in my opinion, creating a stat, if a very subjective one.

    The most basic stats indicate performance. But now it is easier and easier to get stats that reflect process (splits, P/PA, K%, BB%, K:BB ratios, swinging strikes, FIP, Hard/Med/Soft Contact, BABIP etc.). These can help predict a guy who is likely to "turn it around." What I distrust about eye-test and human scouts is they are bound by their memories. And human memory, even when trained, is not as accurate as we would like to believe. And this can lead to distortions just as easily and egregious as any "stat" that we can find.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Couldn't have said it better Joel and I know from reading your posts over the years that you've done your homework and you have a lot of knowledge about these metrics and what theyre useful for in addition to their flaws. I think you have as much credibility if not more credibility as anyone on this website involving any discussion of analytics.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I don't pretend to know a lot about UZR. The flaws I see are ranking Schwarber so high proves it has flaws. Defensive sabermetric stats are far less accurate then offensive stats or pitching stats. Offensive stats are made up of things that actually happened. Like a hit, a home,r a double, a walk. You can look at all the data and get a true picture. I think defensive stats do not tell the whole story.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to kkhiavi:

    2016 Cubs: Because you consider the conclusion preposterous it means that the stat has flaws?

    Obviously we need to do a reality check anytime we run into a new stat or try to create a new stat. That's fine and an important part of the process. I would wager that this has been done and it passed muster. Now, has Schwarber somehow distorted it and it makes him look better than it should? That is possible. I would even say it might even be likely. But it is also possible that, as I have said before, that Schwarber's lack of "grace" in LF--he plays it like he is playing middle linebacker for OSU--can distort our visual impressions of him. It can happen and does every year. But please don't reject a stat en masse simply because you dislike its conclusion for one player. Espeicially since SSS is still likely in effect for it.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Agreed 100% Joel and that's all I was trying to say cubs 2016 about how one incorrect measure doesn't make the stat meaningless as a whole. I have a lot of respect for your baseball insight over the years but my only point was if you're going to disagree with our conclusions that's perfectly fine and I can't speak for Joel but I actually enjoy having intelligent baseball debates/discussions. My only point is if you're going to express disagreements with our conclusions then we'd like to know what specific aspect about defensive metrics do you disapprove of exactly? I get what you're saying overall that Kyle being ranked that high shows a flaw in the stats measurement system but you have to understand that Kyle's UZR ranking comes from comparing him to all LF's( which is the worst defensive position for most teams) so of course it's easier to obtain a high overall ranking when you're compared to all LF's (there are many poor LF's defensively out there) as opposed to being a SS or CF where there are a ton of gifted defenders.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    So in other words to use an example when you consider that Kyle's ranking is based on how his defense compares thus far with ALL LF's then it's easier to understand why his ranking is high when you compare him to Mike Trout (whose ranking is based on comparing with ALL CF's and there's a ton of stud CF's out there). When you look at how the stat is measured from that standpoint then Kyle's ranking appears a lot more plausible. If he's throwing guys out at a crazy rate then of course he's going to have a high grade when compared with guys like Domingo Santana or Ryan Braun just to illustrate some of the type of poor defenders that he's compared against. So in a way the stat isn't really wrong although Schwarber obviously won't continue to throw guys out at this rate so he probably can't sustain this start defensively according to UZR

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I do not believe Schwarber has been "throwing guys out at a crazy rate". He has 3 assist. Which by the way does not lead the league.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Also, it's right there on fangraphs that you can compare all players or do it by position. I would also question the sanity of anyone making the claim that you can't compare them.
    (for the record I just started taking my medication and it may not have started working yet)

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    What Joel means is yes you can in theory compare their overall cumulative grade but their UZR grade is still based on how good is Schwarber is compared to all LF's thus far and how good Trout grades among all CFs thus far. So in other words Schwarber according to UZR stands out moreso among all LF's (inferior defensive position keep in mind) then Trout does among all CF's (a position where there's a ton of elite defenders) so it makes more sense when you look at it that way.

    Remember too Schwarbers defensive stats aren't sustainable too he's not going to lead the league in OF assists every month obviously so while he has technically been a very impactful defender thus far because of all the guys he's thrown out, that doesn't mean that he'll sustain that or that 3rd base coaches will continue to test his arm. There's nothing wrong with the stat Schwarber is just making that big of an impact thus far with his throwing arm and that's all that's being reflected in his numbers thus far. That obviously won't continue so the stat will correct itself over time as guys test him less and he makes his occasional misplays out there which we have seen less of thus far.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    You're technically right 2016 schwarber isn't this good of a defender but I think you're thinking of things through the wrong perspective respectfully. UZR is only measuring Kyles defensive impact thus far through a month and a half and let's say he continues to have zero misplays/errors every remaining month and leads the league in OF assists every month then that would technically be an extremely impactful defender even if he doesn't always subjectively look pretty and fluid out there. Now realistically that's not gonna happen teams aren't going to run on him as much if he keeps throwing guys out and Kyles bound to misplay some balls as the season goes on. UZR isn't a predictive stat that's saying he's going to be the best LF moving forward its just saying he's been the most impactful thus far because of all the guys he's thrown out (due to teams testing him) which are very impactful defensive plays that change the entire momentum of a ballgame let's be honest. Now his defensive stats essentially aren't sustainable (not going to throw guys out at this rate) so he should be due for an obvious decline in his defensive metrics but the point is regardless of how ugly his defense may look he's still going to get positive grades as long as he has months where he doesn't really misplay fly balls/limiting mistakes and throws guys out on a consistent basis as he has thus far. We can all presume knowing schwarbers skill level that we can expect him to misplay much more fly balls then he has thus far and additionally we can expect him not to throw as many guys out moving forward so his defensive rating should correct itself and decline as we get further into the season. That's what I meant when I said that uzr isn't the best stat for short sample sizes and it's best utilized over many games but in theory if Kyle continues to throw guys out at the crazy rate he has and makes zero errors and doesn't misplay a fly ball all year/every month then can we really even call him a defensive liability anymore? I can say with near certainty that he won't but if he did then it's hard to say he's a bad defender anymore if the misplaying of fly balls stops permanently. From an evaluators standpoint I doubt with his limited athleticism that he continues to play this clean as I don't feel he's had many challenging fly balls but its still nice to see him out together an extended stretch of improved defense versus what we've seen in the past

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    To add to that point to one fan myth in baseball is the perception that a superior OF is getting to so many more balls than an inferior OF. In general especially over the span of a month the common fan tends to overestimate how many fly balls one outfielder gets to versus another. There isn't as much of a difference in how many balls most LFs get to vs. schwarber as the typical fan thinks and that's a big part of why schwarbers ranking is favorable along with the fact that he's been fortunate not to have had many tough opportunities that I can recall so far this season. So in theory if he's getting to all the balls he's supposed to and not misplaying balls that other LFs typically get to then of course UZRs gonna give him a very favorable ranking when he's leading the league in throwing guys out at the plate (and at 2B). I'm very familiar with the UZR stat and I'm not whatsoever surprised with Kyles ranking nor do I think it's some flaw in the system. Now if you're asking me will he sustain this then I'd say no way in hell but at least he's been steadily improving out there to the point where we're not just talking about him as a DH

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    That's an incorrect statement for the purposes of our discussion of UZR/150 as Kyle does lead ALL LF's (again his UZR is based on how he rates vs. all LF's, not CF's or RF's) in outfield assists but you're right in that he doesn't lead ALL OF's although he's top 7). I don't really get your point about his arm and how it displays any flaws with defensive metrics are you trying to make the claim that his throwing arm hasn't been impactful so far this season? Whether he leads all OF's in assists or not, I don't think there's any question that his throwing arm has been generally elite when you compare him to all OFs and yes I get that's partially a by product of teams testing him but he's taking advantage also of the opportunities he has to throw guys out and I'd say scouts are definitely going to take note not to run on him based on what he's done thus far with his throwing. In addition while he does rank favorably as a top 7 guy among all OFs in outfield assists, UZR evaluates the overall impact of your throwing arm and that's not just based on outfield assists. There's other variables like what percentage of guys you throw out at the plate based on how many chances a player has to throw someone out, there's how often outs are recorded after an OF makes a strong cutoff throw (kinda like a hockey assist), and overall there's more that goes into metrics grade of a players throwing arm and assists are only one variable that goes into it (and even there Kyle is 1st AMONG LF's). I don't have that kind of deep, detailed knowledge about the metric to tell you how it goes about factoring in all of these aspects of throwing but I do know that there are multiple variables that go into UZR's rating of a players throwing arm and it goes beyond outfield assists.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Nope, you are wrong. Mancin, Benintendi, Cespedes, Dickerson all have 4 assist from left field. Schwarber has 3. You should really get your facts correct before calling someone being wrong.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    My reply got eaten by the admin. You are wrong, Benintend, Cespedes, Dickerson and Mancini all have 4 assist from left. Schwarber has 3.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Admin will not let me reply. You are incorrect. There are 4 left fielders with more assists.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Must not like the names I added in previous posts.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Earlier you said and I quote "I'm very familiar with the UZR stat". It can't be both ways. I think we have been through this enough. I do now have a better understanding of the UZR stat now then I did before so it was a useful debate.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    You can only learn so much about UZR buddy it's a complicated stat that factors in a lot of variables and you're not going to understand every small detail of what you read. I at least understand the concept of how the stat works rather than make assertions like you about a stat that I don't fully understand. That's not meant to defend you it's just blatantly obvious from our discussion that you don't seem to have done your homework about defensive metrics other than saying they're meaningless. There's nothing wrong with that but I just like to see people provide evidence and proof about their statements when they express disagreement with another posters viewpoint. I encourage it actually I've learned a lot hearing other posters viewpoints. I don't fully understand how they incorporate rating the impact of a players arm defensively there's many factors involved like what percentage of the time you throw guys out when you have an opportunity, how often you hit the cutoff man resulting in an out, and how often you prevent guys from taking an extra base. That's a lot of factors to consider and I don't think not fully understanding how that's factored in is a reflection of me or anyone having limited knowledge of UZR. That's just an aspect of the stat that's hard to fully understand from a fans perspective through simple reading and discussion.

    Respectfully, You have yet to provide a single rebuttal to me and Joel about what exactly about UZR and defensive metrics that you're skeptical other than a quick post saying my OF assists ranking is incorrect. You haven't provided me the rankings so I'll provide them for you: Lorenzo cain, cespedes, corey dickerson, markakis, yasiel puig, starling marte all tied for 1st is outfield assists. Keep in mind Marte is now a CF so Corey Dickerson is the only guy who plays LF. I don't intend any of this to be offensive you've just consistently disagreed with my viewpoint and that's fine but I just don't really understand your perspective or what's your general opposition towards defensive metrics. I can assure you that despite old, stubborn scouts opposition towards analytics 10-15 years ago that every team in baseball uses them. Defensive analytics in fact are a large part of every teams evaluation of individual players defense in today's game and whether or not you agree with them or not, front offices value them highly and will continue to going forward. Anyways, sorry if that seemed harsh and I enjoyed this talk with you and Joel.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Admin keeps eating my posts where I privide the OF assists ranking but I still don't understand your viewpoint is it that defensive analytics are worthless or that schwarber isn't a good defender therefore uzr is worthless if it gives him a favorable grade ? Because uzr doesn't say that because you have a high ranking that he's a great defender it's just measuring his overall defensive impact thus far

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I don't get it so is your viewpoint that because someone we consider a bad defender like Schwarber has a positive ranking that defensive metrics are flawed and shouldn't be used as a measure of a players defensive contributions? By this logic I can argue every stat would be flawed when you base its relevance on whether one or a few players shouldn't be ranked that highly based on your evaluation of them as players. Through the 1st 3-4 weeks, our old friend Christian Villanueva was the best player in the league and a MVP candidate by most offensive measures like average, OBP, home runs, WAR, etc. As the season went on he declined like we all expected and is now only hitting .234 after a recent cold stretch. I could've said 2-3 weeks ago that offensive stats are flawed because he's clearly not the best offensive player or prospect in the league but that's just what happens when you're dealing with small sample sizes. Or with batting average Albert Almora would be one of the 2 best hitters on the team which we know he isn't when we analyze his other offensive numbers like WAR, home runs, OBP, RBI's, etc.

    My point is pretty much any stat has flaws when viewed through a small sample or when you judge its effectiveness on whether it ranks players contributions as you see them. Schwarbers defensive ranking is favorable because he has played great defense among his positional group thus far when you factor in that he's a LF (weak group) and that his arm has had as much impact in games as any LF in baseball. Now as an evaluator like I said we can obviously chalk this up to small sample size but that doesn't mean there's major flaw with this metric where it can't be trusted although yes all stats are somewhat flawed frankly when viewed individually. In Schwarbers case though unlike say Albert Almora's offensive contributions, all of his defensive metrics are strong like DRS, RngR, etc.) so it's not as if he has one defensive metric that's giving him positive grades for his defense. I really don't know what's to debate here respectfully.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Filters eating my comments but here's the leaderboard in OF assists: Lorenzo cain, cespedes, corey dickerson, Markakis, yasiel puig, starling marte are the only OFs ahead of Schwarber. Besides dickerson some games which of these guys are LFs?

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Lorenzo Cain, Cespedes, Corey Dickerson, Markakis, Starling marte, Yasiel puig are the players ranked ahead of him. Do any of these guys play exclusively in LF and other than Dickerson some games which of these guys play LF at all? Marte is a CF now too FYI

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I get what you're saying also 2016 unless Kyle is throwing guys out at a rate that's way higher than everyone else then how does an OF with his limited athleticism rank so favorably even with his throwing impact? I think the answer to that is fans overestimate how many balls one LF gets to versus another especially over small samples sizes at times. Remember on many teams LF is your worst defender so ask yourself do say Ryan Braun or Domingo Santana really get to many/any more balls then Kyle does over a one month span? Or let's even put a gold glove LF like marcell ozuna as an example whose considered a tremendous LF and a poor CF. UZR at least so far is basically saying that there's been a minimal to no difference in the amount of extra balls those guys are getting to versus Schwarber. Now it's early and as those guys get tested out there more and more as the season goes on then I expect that we'll definitely see a good LF like Ozuna get to several balls that Kyle can't get to and we'll likely see Kyle misplay balls that Ozuna would make a play on. There's also an element of luck sometimes like a player may just not be tested with that many tough chances in April only to get tested numerous times in Jun.e My overall point is that there isn't always as much of a difference in how many fly balls one LF tracks down versus another over a short time span like a month and and the common fan due to bias over players defensive ability tend to overrate how many balls one guy gets to versus another especially over a relatively short time frame a lot of it depends on the difficulty of the balls hit to you. That's why over a small sample you see defenders get favorably graded for throwing guys out because that's a defensive impact stat that you can count and the reality is it's possible that there's minimal difference in the number of balls one OF gets to versus another over short time spans. The great thing about UZR though is this problem corrects itself over many games and that's partly what I meant when I said the stats measurement is much more accurate as the season goes on. But in any event while we know Kyle's UZR is in for a big decline it's still good to see him put a nice stretch together and hopefully he can be more consistent at being a competent OF moving forward although we know he'll never be great.

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    Along this line I remember John had an article here a couple years ago regarding Jason Heyward. In it he pointed out that Heyward is an elite RF (or at least was in 2015 or so) and probably above average or even average in CF. But a CF handles a lot more situations. So the question, and it was an open question he was posing, was whether or not his skill would be BETTER used in a less flashy but more frequent role in CF or as an elite guy in RF. Similarly at SS vs 2B or 3B for infielders. It becomes an interesting question. And, again, even John left the question open.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    That's a great comparison Joel and I think it applies perfectly in this case when explaining UZR in how Heyward grades as the best if not one of the best in UZR in RF but throughout his career has only graded out as mostly average in CF. This is what we mean when we say it's much more difficult to get a favorable grade at CF and SS versus LF or RF. Baez is similar and I think the reason his UZR is lower than we'd expect is because he typically doesn't grade out that well at SS but that doesn't take into context how difficult it is to have the responsibility of playing all 3 positions. That's what we mean when we say the stat is a good overall evaluation of a players defensive contributions but it's still has some flaws like any stat and context needs to be used when evaluating how this or any other stat grades a player.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I agree with your overall opinion on everything except that the UZR stat means nothing. It's imperfect but still a pretty good general measure of defensive value although the rankings of players (especially this early on) isn't close to perfect. You have to remember that UZR is more accurate when analyzed over a large sample size rather than a small one and my guess is the rankings will correct themselves as the season goes on. I personally don't consider Trout to be a gold glove CF I think he's decent out there but maybe has a better defensive reputation then he deserves because of his name although I think we can both agree that he should be ranked way higher then 57. Schwarbers essentially an outlier defensively thus far this season due to all his outfield assists which will correct itself as runners test him less than they have thus far. And my understanding was that his UZR defensive ranking was among all LF's but if it's among all fielders then that's obviously a bit absurd and you can chalk it up to small sample size. I think we're pretty much in agreement overall though and my thoughts are that he's definitely improving but still closer to average among LF's rather than good. I expect that his metrics are a bit inflated because of all these guys testing his arm out there over the past month and I expect his numbers to level out overall. Either way when you even compare his defensive metrics from last year it's still encouraging as his defensive metrics were easily below average last season just to give you reference that the UZR metric isn't as flawed as some people think.

  • Brett Taylor wrote Machado is the cubs main target at the deadline. These rumors won’t go away

  • In reply to bolla:

    Jon Heyman is who reported this news. He wrote an article today saying he was told Machado is the cubs main deadline target. Heyman is as credible as any mlb reporter can get

    Taylor relayed the article on bleacher report. Go on Heymans Twitter if you want to see for yourself. I don’t think the cubs have enough for Machado without a severe over pay which scares me. I would really really hope they wouldn’t trade alzolay + more for a rental or someone they can sign. So maybe it’s smoke yo up the ante for other interested nl teams

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    In reply to bolla:

    You are right and I trust Heyman is a good journalist and not just a hack. But, as you say, it could also be a smoke screen. And just because the Cubs are interested doesn't mean they will acquire him.

    Technically, if we really wanted to parse it it is also possible that the Cubs aren't the most interested team. It is possible (though not necessarily likely) that someone asked Theo/Jed, "Who is your main target at the deadline?" And he responded "Machado." But another team is desperate to acquire him but they weren't asked by that reporter. Or the other team even more interested in Machado might have someone else they are even MORE interested in getting.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Heyman is the same reporter who predicted the Hendricks and Quintana and Addison Russell and Wade Davis....oh wait, no reporter has ever accurately predict any trade except for Chapman, which was about as obvious as it comes. In fact, a reporter prediction invariably means the trade will not happen. Who was the one guy who did predict the Quintana trade, Stinky Butt? Let's ask him.

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    In reply to Cubswin09:

    I get where you are coming from and, in general, agree with you. That was why I said, "Heyman is a good journalist and not just a hack." There are plenty of guys who are "predicting" that Machado will go to the Cubs with no evidence beyond they think it makes sense. Heyman is a more serious journalist and, I believe, has sources that tell him that the Cubs are "interested."

    But he is also a journalist and NOT a sooth-sayer. He can't see into the future. He likely just reported what he was told by someone he considered to be possibly in a position to know this.

    And, again, just because the Cubs are interested doesn't mean that a deal is "imminent." Nor does it mean it will happen. IMO that interpretation would be an over-reaction. As I pointed out above, EVERY team has a "main target" they are going after. That doesn't mean that they are pursuing them with equal vigor. Kind of like when comparing lists of prospects it is intuitive to think every team's "#1" prospect is, roughly, equal to every other teams. Or, at least, better than any other team's #2 prospect. But we know that isn't necessarily true.

    Finally, if I have read your recent posts about Machado correctly I think we agree that the trade is not particularly likely. But that doesn't negate, in any way, what Heyman reported.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    He says more than that the Cubs are "interested." He writes that "word now is he is the Cubs main target at the deadline." I'm sorry, but that doesn't color his as a serious journalist in my book.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Nothing more hilarious than a nobody who knows nothing going on in the mlb business questioning an reporter who has broken several mlb news/signings/trades for years. Absolutely hilarious

  • In reply to bolla:

    Aw, now you hurt my feelings. I thought you were the cat who was all for everyone expressing their opinions. No? You are right: you can bank 100% on the fact that I have no idea what is going to happen.

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    In reply to Cubswin09:

    I am not privy to the convesations but let's say the Cubs aren't particularly looking at anyone at the trade deadline. They are taking a "wait-and-see" approach. Let's say the have, on a scale of 1-100 an interest in Machado of 18, an interest in trying to acquire a given bullpen arm of 14 and another starting pitcher interest of 12. In short, not very interested. But Machado is still top of the list.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I've been following this discussion all day. Good stuff.

    Defensive metrics are flawed, especially in a SSS. UZL/150 takes current data and projects it over 150 games, hence the 150. Some fans are more hip to advanced numbers than others. We should all strive to be more informed fans, but many just want to root for a win today. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is surely the most common form of fandom, especially during a successful run.

    Theo has said we aren't trading for a rental. He has to say that. If he didn't, could you imagine Russell's uncertainty? It's obviously already an issue. We can say as fans that we don't know what our needs will be. I'll counter that the organization has a pretty clear view of the future, and have the next several decisions already mapped out. Injuries can change everything, of course.

    I've said repeatedly that any deal for Machado is not about Machado, but how this FO views Russell. None of us know that. But as you so eloquently laid out in previous posts, you take the widest swath of knowledge possible to make an informed opinion. I know this FO is solid at forecasting position players. I know this FO values work ethic, and loves players such as Schwarber and Happ while shunning less enthusiast guys like Soler. And probably above all, this FO covets young men with high character, and nurtures that trait above all else. Many FA's have signed here for less money, and that organizational focus on family is the reason I have seen most frequently cited.

    When I take all these factors into consideration, and knowing some things I've seen with my own eyes, it wouldn't surprise me to see us persue another SS.

    Machado would make any contender better, and would make us the NL favorites, IMO. Russell and Monty might do it. I've seen speculation that other teams could offer better prospects. That is true. But we're talking about Angelos. I don't think he even knows the word "rebuild", and at his age I don't think he's interested in A-ball prospects. It will be interesting.

    Anyway, I think it all comes down to how the FO views Russell long-term, and how aggressive they want to be to win another Championship while our window is wide open and the NL Pennant is up for grabs. I know where my gut is taking me, how about yours?

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    BP, that is a lot to chew on. Yes, defensive stats are flawed--and I have been saying all day that ALL stats are flawed, though some more than others. Defense doesn't lend itself to "counting" like offensive and pitching stats. There are things to count but it is easier to make a bad defender look "OK" than a bad hitter/pitcher.

    I also fully agree that the most common kind of "fandom" is "Let's do everything humanly possible to win the game today (or tomorrow in this case).

    My natural tendency is to not spend too much on a rental. I wouldn't mind getting a "role" player rental. But someone like Machado would cost more than I think he is worth. Yes, he would likely make us the odds-on favorite if we weren't already to win the NL Pennant. But it could open some gaping holes in our 2019 roster. I am conservative in that way. Just get to the playoffs and do your best. Contrary to what some believe, I still see the playoffs as something of a crap shoot.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Still very credible reporter and with how thin the NL is and when you consider that Machado is a generational type of player that may very well be an exception to Theo's philosophy of not trading for rentals. In addition Theo has a lot of incentive to downplay the possibility of a trade when you consider that the centerpiece going back to the Orioles happens to be a big piece of our current roster and it's to see why Theo would downplay the possibility of a trade. I know personally if I were the GM I'd downplay the possibility of a trade also to protect Addison Russell. Again not saying a trade is likely or that we'll reach an agreement but I definitely believe that Theo is going to be engaged in discussions at least. Machado is the type of player that you make exceptions for and as I've posted previously I have reason to believe that the front office has no plans to keep Russell past his current rookie contract either way.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    It is definitely fun to talk about. From what I have read, a lot of these trades involve the GM or head of baseball operations calling Theo directly. I think Stinky Butt got his info because Q had to go for a physical. So unless Theo is calling Heyman and saying, "Here's what I am thinking" I don't understand how Heyman would know. It isn't like a White House leak or an agent during free agency. There is no "source" for him to talk to.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Not Stinky Butt. KatyPerry'sBootyHole. Get your sources right, man. :)

  • Mark Gonzales reports that Quintana had been named the SP for Game 1 Saturday, with the Game 2 SP still TBD. I would expect an announcement soon.

    I also saw someone mention that AAA LHR Randy Rosario has posted pictures from the Atlanta airport somewhere on social media. I can't find them, but we may have made a roster move to ease the load on the pen. Hancock back down, or Edwards Jr. to the DL? Or just BS? We'll find out soon, but we're going to have to start getting creative.

  • I posted a comment about LHRP Randy Rosario posting pictures from the Atlanta airport in social media, but the filter ate it.

    Sure enough, Rosario up and Bote back down. We certainly need the arms.

  • The other half of my comment was that the Cubs have named Quintana the starter for the first game of Saturday's DH, with the second game SP TBA.

    I wonder if bringing up the extra lefty means they are saving Monty for that start, or perhaps a piggyback with Alzolay/Tseng?

  • Addison russell 5 defensive runs saved this year at ss

    Machado -5 defensive runs saved at ss.

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