Wrapping Things Up - Cubs Den Prediction Contest Results and a New Champion

Sooooo....that was a weird season.

Safe to say that the 2018 season didn't exactly go as planned for any of us. It was a strange year to be a Cubs fan. The team was terrible enough to win 95 games. Cubs fans called for Joe Maddon to be fired, as his team won 95 games. The Cubs spent $185M to bring in pitchers Yu Darvish, Tyler (sigh) Chatwood and Brandon Morrow, so naturally the biggest impact pitcher they acquired was Jesse Chavez in late July. And they won 95 games.

Just so many things went wrong for the Cubs this season and they still won 95 games. Kris Bryant got injured. Ben Zobrist got salty with an umpire. David Bote got popular. Anthony Rizzo became the great relief pitcher of all time. Javier Baez exploded (not literally). Addison Russell imploded (literally).

It was a weird season. At least I think it was because I honestly didn't pay attention like I used to. It was actually kind of nice to take a break and not live and die with every game.

I think I needed the break after the past few seasons. So I took one. My previous post was my preview of the Washington Nationals in which I predicted they would run away with the N.L. East and likely get home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

And sadly, that wasn't my worst prediction for this season. But thankfully, my fellow Cubs Den writers decided to make me better by also making some truly awful predictions.

So who was the least truly awful?

First Things First-ish

Short version of things, nine of us took our most "educated" of guesses at predicting the answers to 10 questions about the Cubs 2018 season back in March. The results were not pretty.

As we all totally and definitely remember, I won this contest in 2016, which allowed me to write the recap column for 2017. As was only fitting, John rose above us all to claim the 2017 title. So unfortunately for you all, I am again writing the recap of the prediction contest to see who gets the giant gold belt and one year worth of sitting shotgun on the Cubs Den private jet.

We're going with the old 3-2-1 scoring system since there were so few correct answers that we need to give some credit for correct-adjacent answers. And none of us wants to be reminded of how it feels to sit through an overly long and low scoring contest

Brace yourselves. This gets ugly fast.

Here We Go, Here We Go

Question 1: How many regular season wins will the Cubs have in 2018?

Dan Travis: 95
Sam Fels: 97
Sean Atchley: 94
Michael Banghart: 90
Michael Ernst 101
Myles Phelps: 97.5
Stephanie Lynn: 89
Sean Holland: 98
Tom Usiak: 88

The correct answer was of course 95, so score one for the old guy. I'm actually kind of tempted to just end the column here with me in first place, but I'm sure Dabs would have some kind of issue with that. He's the worst. (I'm totally kidding, Myles is actually the worst for picking 97.5 and hedging his answer)

Dan Travis: 3
Sean Atchley: 2
Sam Fels: 1
Michael Banghart: 0
Michael Ernst: 0
Myles Phelps: 0
Stephanie Lynn: 0
Sean Holland: 0
Tom Usiak: 0

Question 2: Who will be the Cubs top 3 players (in order) as measured by fWAR?

DT: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras
SF: Bryant, Rizzo, Contreras
SA: Bryant, Rizzo, Contreras
MB: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras
ME: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras.
MP: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez
SL: Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo
SH: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Willson Contreras.
TU: Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, and Kyle Hendricks

The correct answers were Javier Baez (5.3), Ben Zobrist (3.6) and (tie) Kyle Schwarber/Kyle Hendricks (3.2). And...we all picked Bryant and Rizzo. So it comes down to our third choices.

I'm giving Stephanie first place here because she's not Myles and third goes to Tom for his Hendricks pick.

Dan Travis: 3
Sean Atchley: 2
Sam Fels: 1
Michael Banghart: 0
Michael Ernst: 0
Myles Phelps: 2
Stephanie Lynn: 3
Sean Holland: 0
Tom Usiak: 1

Question 3: Who will be the Cubs top pitcher as measured by fWAR?

DT: Jose Quintana
SF: Kyle Hendricks
SA: Jose Quintana
MB: Yu Darvish
ME: Kyle Hendricks
MP: Kyle Hendricks
SL: Yu Darvish
SH: Kyle Hendricks
TU: Kyle Hendricks

In a fairly depressing category, Hendricks was the clear winner at 3.2 fWAR. I mean seriously. Cole Hamels finished 3rd among pitchers and he didn't make his first start with the Cubs until August. Zoinks. Still, five people got it right so I'm giving them all 3 points.

Dan Travis: 3
Sean Atchley: 2
Sam Fels: 4
Michael Banghart: 0
Michael Ernst: 3
Myles Phelps: 5
Stephanie Lynn: 3
Sean Holland: 3
Tom Usiak: 4

Question 4: Who will lead the Cubs in HRs?

DT: Kris Bryant
SF: Kyle Schwarber
SA: Anthony Rizzo
MB: Kris Bryant
ME: Kris Bryant
MP: Ian Happ
SL: Anthony Rizzo
SH: Anthony Rizzo
TU: Anthony Rizzo

Correct answer was Baez with 34 home runs as exactly none of us predicted. Schwarber was next with 26 and Rizzo was third with 25. Dabs actually mentioned Baez in his prediction, but Javy was one of four players he mentioned, so can't really give credit there. Just gonna move along now. Two points for the Schwarber picks and 1 for Rizzo.

Dan Travis: 3
Sean Atchley: 3
Sam Fels: 6
Michael Banghart: 0
Michael Ernst: 3
Myles Phelps: 5
Stephanie Lynn: 4
Sean Holland: 4
Tom Usiak: 5

Question 5: Who will lead the Cubs in OBP?

DT: Anthony Rizzo
SF: Kris Bryant
SA: Anthony Rizzo
MB: Kris Bryant
ME: Kris Bryant
MP: Anthony Rizzo
SL: Ian Happ
SH: Kris Bryant
TU: Kris Bryant

Once again, we all whiffed as Ben Zobrist actually led the team with a .378 OBP. So second place votes for Rizzo (.376) and third was Schwarber (.356). Bryant did post a higher OBP than Kyle, but KB missed enough games that he didn't qualify for the batting title.

Dan Travis: 5
Sean Atchley: 5
Sam Fels: 6
Michael Banghart: 0
Michael Ernst: 3
Myles Phelps: 7
Stephanie Lynn: 4
Sean Holland: 4
Tom Usiak: 5

Question 6: Which Cubs will be named all-stars?

DT: Kris Bryant, Yu Darvish, Willson Contreras
SF: Rizzo, Bryant, Hendricks, Schwarber, Contreras
SA: Bryant, Rizzo, Contreras
MB: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow
ME: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Kyle Hendricks, Javier Baez
MP: KB, Javy, Rizzo, Darvish, Happ
SL: Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Yu Darvish, Willson Contreras
SH: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Javy Baez, and Kyle Hendricks
TU: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Kyle Hendricks

Contreras, Baez, and Lester ended up representing the Cubs in the All Star game, which means we all got at least one correct answer. We also got just so many wrong answers. Just so many. I don't think anyone deserves points here. Moving on.

Question 7: Which Cubs will win Gold Gloves?

DT: Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo
SF: Willson Contreras
SA: Heyward and Baez
MB: Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Jason Heyward
ME: Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward
MP: Javier Baez
SL: Javy Baez
SH: Rizzo, Baez, Contreras
TU: None

So technically the correct answer was Rizzo who split the award. Heyward and Baez were both finalists, so it doesn't quite feel right to penalize for those wrong answers. But I kinda wanna. But I won't.

Dan Travis: 8
Sean Atchley: 5
Sam Fels: 6
Michael Banghart: 3
Michael Ernst: 6
Myles Phelps: 7
Stephanie Lynn: 4
Sean Holland: 7
Tom Usiak: 5

Question 8: Top Rookie Contributor?

DT: Dillon Maples
SF: Dillon Maples
SA: Dillon Maples
MB: David Bote
ME: Victor Caratini
MP: Dillon Maples
SL: Victor Caratini
SH: Adbert Azolay
TU: Adbert Alzolay

I actually asked if I could pass on answering this question and I will argue that this was the correct answer. Officially, Bote posted the highest fWAR among rookies at 1.0, followed by Alec Mills (0.4) and someone named James Norwood (0.2). I literally have no memory of Norwood, but it turns out he pitched in multiple games that I attended. Which actually lends some weight to my argument that "pass" was a valid answer. Whatever. Nicely done Banghart.

Dan Travis: 8
Sean Atchley: 5
Sam Fels: 6
Michael Banghart: 6
Michael Ernst: 6
Myles Phelps: 7
Stephanie Lynn: 4
Sean Holland: 7
Tom Usiak: 5

Question 9: Who is the comeback or breakthrough Player of the Year?

DT: Willson Contreras
SF: Tyler Chatwood
SA: Justin Wilson
MB: Addison Russell
ME: Addison Russell
MP: Ian Happ
SL: Kyle Schwarber
SH: Kyle Schwarber
TU: Addison Russell

So we didn't actually make any rules about how this one should be answered. Baez seems like the clear breakthrough player from this season. Going by fWAR, Schwarber and (seriously) Justin Wilson are the only two of our answers who actually improved from 2017, so we're gonna call them 2nd and 3rd place. And I am tempted to take away all of Sam's points for mentioning Chatwood here.

Dan Travis: 8
Sean Atchley: 6
Sam Fels: 6
Michael Banghart: 6
Michael Ernst: 6
Myles Phelps: 7
Stephanie Lynn: 6
Sean Holland: 9
Tom Usiak: 5

Question 10: How far do the Cubs get in 2018?

DT: NLCS appearance
SF: World Series Champions
SA: NLCS appearance
MB NLDS appearance
ME: World Series Champs
MP: NLCS Appearance
SL: NLDS Appearance
SH: NLCS Appearance
TU: NLDS Appearance

So...yeah...none of these are right. We all know what happened. It wasn't any of these answers.


Sean Holland? Seriously? That guy? Ugh. Recount.

Last Call

So, as I said at the beginning, I didn't publish a single article this season. And I wasn't all that active last offseason either. To be honest, I'm just not following the Cubs or the sport like I used to when I was knocking out Rumor Threads and Around the League columns a couple times per week.

Which is why I'm wrapping up my time at Cubs Den. I'm not going to a new blog or a different site, I'm just making things official. If we're being honest, I've been done for awhile.

I appreciate the patience that Dabs and Myles have shown, never pressuring me to contribute and making sure I knew that I was welcome to come back when I was ready. I think they have done an amazing job keeping this place going and growing. Between them and all the new kids, I know this site and this community will be just fine.

I appreciate you putting up with the truly amazing amount of nonsense I've contributed to this site. There was nothing I enjoyed about writing here as much as seeing new comments on something I wrote. It was always an exciting feeling to know people were reading. So thank you all for that.

But most of all, thank you to the man who gave me the opportunity to do this.

I miss John Arguello.


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  • Thank for being honest. And since we are being honest, your articles have been missed. You did a really good job. I looked forward to them and have often wondered “what happened?” when some of the OT subjects on baseball were being reported.

    All the best, Dan. Thanks!!!

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Ditto on all your sentiments.

    Dan will be missed.

  • Perfectly put, Michael. How could a 95 win season have been so AWFUL? Only if a LOT of things went wrong. Things that shouldn't have gone wrong. And thanks for your work.

  • Thanks for your previous writing Irish,... And don't be a stranger.

    I know there was a lot of things that went wrong for our Cubs last year, injuries and flame-outs wise. And it was definitely a disappointing way to end the season. However, these guys still managed to scrape together 95 wins and until the offense imploded in the 2nd half - they were great fun to watch.

    I'm looking forward to a fresh start again in 2019 - and figuring out what parts of the starting lineup for 2018 are going to be the same or changed out.

  • Sad to see you go, Dan. I always looked forward to the info and appreciated your sense of humor. Thank you and good luck!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Not to put any pressure on you, BarleyPop, but you have got some big shoes to fill now. :)

    And, no fair looking at the answers before you make YOUR predictions for the 2019 season.

  • Is dan bernstein credible? Because he’s saying Harper negotiations are picking up steam and cubs are in on Harper. Right now!!!

  • In reply to bolla:

    Don't know if he is credible, but it would shock me if the Cubs weren't in on Harper. I just think some team will get convinced to get stupid on Harper, and I don't think that ends up being the Cubs.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Yea I agree, my bet would be the Phillies.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    He was right on Chatwood and Morrow so I don't know that he's not credible but I'm with you in that the surprising thing would be if they weren't in. The Phillies owner came out and said yesterday they were going to spend "stupid money" and his own FO guys had to throttle their owner back a little. Clearly the Cubs have a number they're willing to go to. I think Harper wants to be a Cub, Yankee or Dodger, one of those teams might get him at a bit less but if Philly goes $425 mil or something how could Harper possibly say no to that? We'll see.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I would be okay with the Cubs offering Harper a front-loaded 13y/$387M deal and break it down something like this: 38, 38, 38, opt-out after 3 years, 34, 30, 30, opt-out after 6 years, 30, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20, 20, No-trade clause on first 3 years, with limited no trade for years 4 and 5.

    This maximizes their chances to win over the next 3 seasons while everybody is under team control. It also really opens up the possibilities of using a couple of Schwarber, Happ, Almora, and Heyward as trade chips to fill other holes (2nd base if Baez is our SS). Further, Bryce can take his money (and hopefully championship rings) and run after 3 years allowing the Cubs to totally retool at that time. Or if he stays for years 4-6, then it puts the Cubs in the driver's seat to trade him with a year or 2 of control (minimum) to rebuild if the Cubs need to turn that direction at some point in '22 or '23. And even if he never opts out, he can (on Boras's advice) convert to a first basemen if Rizzo isn't retained at some point while Bryce is still a Cub. But I sure hope Rizzo sticks around for his entire career.

    disclaimer: I don't really care whether we get Harper or not, but we'd definitely be better with him, and it would open up a lot of trade options that would lead to more upgrades. Payroll would be ridiculous, but the Ricketts can afford it. We could deal with dropping draft picks by 10 spots, or losing out on a couple of them for these upgrades while the team leaves that window propped open.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    The thing about front loading is that it doesn't help them much. The Cubs are loaded with cash, they need the relief and what counts against the CBT is AAV. A couple things work in the Cubs favor to me. First by signing Harper they're protecting themselves against having to sign Bryant in three years because they'll have another generational talent after having both for two years. What could get hairy is that Harper is going to want an opt out in two years so depending on his 2020 season he could get in the market as an alternative to Trout. If Harper doesn't opt out maybe that's when you trade Bryant to get younger and you still have Harper to build around or if he doesn't opt out you go all in on signing Bryant. It would be rough if they lost out on both but there will be options. I'm not sure why but assuming Philadelphia doesn't get super crazy I think Harper will be a Cub and I think we're looking at a $240 mil payroll next year. It just makes too much sense unless the Phillies or the Dodgers spoil the party.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Should have read "don't need the relief". I wish there was an edit feature.

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    In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Like you, I don't really really really feel like we have to have him, but we sure would be better w him. What we really need to do is retool this offense somehow, someway.

    Anyway, I like your contract idea as it really looks fair on both sides and thats something you rarely see from fan's of their fav teams. LOL

    If Harper is offered something like that from a perennial winning team, he should take it. Although, If the Phillies offer him 10-400, then he prob has to take that.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Speaking of predictions:

    I predict Harper will get a stupid offer, but turn it down and take less money to be a Cub.

    (OK.OK. More wishful thinking than anything, but I won't be shocked if that happens).

  • In reply to TTP:

    Honestly, it wouldn't really be that surprised if something like that happens. Bryce is in the drivers seat, and he can choose to go wherever he wants to live and play, while earning at the minimum $300M over 10 years. There's definitely the chance that if he just follows the most money, that he may never even sniff a World Series, so he'd serve himself better to still get such a lucrative deal from the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, or Astros and know that he's gonna play into October for years to come.

  • In reply to bolla:

    It is not so much that the Cubs are in but that they are not 100% out. It would take all teams trying to low ball Harper for the Cubs to stay in. As soon as he starts getting offers for either too many years or too much per season the Cubs will be out.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Harper is going to get $350 mil minimum. If everybody is near the same and Philadelphia, who's owner promises they'll spend "stupid money", offers $425 or something crazy than he'll be a Phillies player and who can blame him? Nobody is leaving $75 mil on the table. Other than that "stupid" scenario I think if the Dodgers and Yankees stay out he'll be a Cub. What he's not going to be is an White
    Sox, Padre, Cardinal or Twin like some of the silliest of the rumors suggest. Bright lights, big city baby. Chicago is brighter than Philly but NY and LA are brighter than Chicago.

  • Good luck to you and thanks Dan.......always a great read and if you ever get bored.........

  • When you put it like that it was really a weird season. I took my break from baseball after the last Cubs loss. I didn't watch any of post season. A first.

    Thanks! Go Cubs!

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Same here. I followed along watching high lites & reading about the games but didn’t watch them.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    You don’t watch mlb outside the cubs? Or you just didn’t care anymore?

    I’m always watch mlb postseason. Nothing better than watching other teams play high anxiety games because it’s stress free to me

  • In reply to bolla:

    I just needed a break from a frustrating season. I have always enjoyed the post season.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I don't think that I have watched a non-Cubs MLB game in a decade or more. Although I do get to the local MiLB games a couple of times each Summer.

  • Just want to echo sentiments regarding North Side Irish (& all who volunteer(ed) to write here) for their contributions. I’ve been a long time reader but not a long time poster of comments. For a while I didn’t even have a sign on account. I’d just pop on & read the articles & have fun watching the comments. You could count on guys like Moody & Northside posting w/follow ups by John & others.

    Some find it easier to articulate their thoughts in shorter paragraphs than I can & still get their point(s) &/or passion across. That’s what separates the good writers. But I typically focus on the content. And there is a lot of good content here. I think sometimes we (including myself) may get spoiled & take the Cub sites like this for granted.

    And yes, I miss John as we all do, but he lives on thru this Den. Cheers!

  • Since it appears an earlier comment of mine got snagged by the filters - I just popped in to again state - Thanks for your contributions Irish,.... and don't be a stranger.

  • Godspeed, Dan! You'll be very missed.

  • I want the cubs to sign Andrew Mccuthchen. His wrc would of been 4th on the cubs last season, .368 on base %(top 20 in mlb).Great guy , great teammate and want to see him get a chance to compete for a championship.

    A lot of fans will be disappointed but it will be the right move.Just hope they can sign him for a good price

  • In reply to bolla:

    Maybe. He's lost a step or two and his defense will never be top-notch, but I think you're right about him being a fit on the team and the Cubs could certainly use his bat. All that said, there would be a surplus of outfielders if he signed and he won't be cheap, even if he isn't in the Harpersphere, dollars-wise. It would be an interesting move.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Wait a minute, every time I've brought up Bryant's wRC+ or OBP you say you don't care about those. What's McCutchen's average with RISP and RBI?

    I'm messing with you... kind of. I wouldn't mind McCutchen either. I didn't look at his numbers until about a week ago - surprisingly very good.

  • May your future endeavors be blessed, Dan. Thanks for the great work.

  • Thanks for your contributions to The Den. I’ve always enjoyed your work.

  • fb_avatar

    NSI. You are a gentleman and a scholar and will surely be missed.

    Just because your not going to be a writer here anymore that doesn't mean you can be a stranger. I expect to see you in the comment sections and when that "urge" comes up that you write up a guest post for your fans !

    God Bless and Best regards to you and your family !

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