A Swift Victory--Cubs 3 Reds 1

Remember those days in college where the professor would begin class by asking a question about the symbolism of breaking eggs in Gulliver’s Travels? And it immediately became clear that nobody in class actually read Gulliver’s Travels because it conflicted with assembling a perfect Saran Wrap thong for last night’s Shock Yo Mama party? So everyone just sat there in increasing discomfort in a room dominated by crushing silence and the kind of regret that could only be summed up by the words “Milwaukee’s Best?”

That’s what the Reds offense felt like against Kyle Hendricks tonight.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

Hendricks entered the game with a robust 8.78 ERA in three road starts on the season. Which meant that the professor’s first lesson was going to be “small sample size means nothing.” He set the tone by retiring the top of the Reds order in eleven pitches in the first inning, nine of which were strikes--including strikeouts of Nick Senzel and Eugenio Suárez. And then proceeded to retire the first ten batters in a row, including a nasty 3-2 changeup to strike out Yasiel Puig that created the hashtag #HendricksYourDaddy.

Meanwhile, the Cubs would have to seek out a new source for offense with Anthony Rizzo missing his second consecutive game with a sore back, sustained while carrying the entire Cubs lineup on it from 2012-14. So Hendricks decided to take matters into his own hands there too.

Reds starter Tanner Roark got two quick outs in the top of the second and up stepped Daniel Descalso with nobody on. The Reds then chose to go into a unique defensive shift against the Cubs second baseman, abandoning the entire left side of the infield in favor of four outfielders. It was an interesting choice considering Descalso spent his previous 15 games slashing .091/.167/.182. Granted, part of that has been due to his ankle injury. But most baseball analysts would agree that against that kind of offensive production, the best possible shift is usually “placing the ball on a tee.”

Sure enough, Descalso squared around and dropped a bunt to the open side of the field. Roark got to it but couldn’t unleash an accurate throw and the Cubs were gifted a two out hit. Which brings us to tonight’s...

Quote of the Game:
“Why don’t they ALL do that?!”
--Everybody’s Dad, simultaneously

Albert Almora Jr. followed by lining a single to left just past a sprawling Jose Iglesias and the Cubs had a scoring threat. No one in Cincinnati was that worried, though, as up stepped Hendricks and his .067/.125/.067 line. For some reason, this time the Reds looked at those numbers and didn’t send out a fourth outfielder.

Which they should have. Because Hendricks laced an 0-1 fastball to straightaway center well over Senzel’s head, driving in both runners with a two out double. And as Senzel pursued the ball at the base of the center field wall, he could overhear the voice of The Professor calling out, “You were asking for an illustration of chaos theory...”

The 2-0 lead lasted until Hendricks’s perfect game was broken up with one out in the fourth. On a 1-1 count, Hendricks threw a fastball that trailed out over the heart of the plate against Joey Votto, who entered tonight’s game hitting .206. Votto hitting .206 is so overdue that the Reds are paying his 2019 salary in dimes. (Or perhaps in tribute to the land of his birth, Loonies.) And he knew what to do with a mistake pitch down the middle, crushing it to the right center field bleachers for a solo home run that cut the lead to 2-1.

You could tell Hendricks was upset because he turned his head two degrees to the right. Highlights editors at MLB Network are going to have to work overtime tonight blurring out the word “Fiddlesticks.”

It took all of a half inning for the Cubs to restore the lead back to two, as Kris Bryant led off the fifth by lasering a leadoff hit to left field and hustling it into a double. Javy Báez moved him to third by singling off the end of his bat to right field. And with runners on the corners and no one out, Willson Contreras looked like he was headed for a bad at bat by swinging and missing at consecutive inside and outside fastballs. However, he turned it into a great AB by getting the barrel of the bat around on an inside pitch and lofting a sacrifice fly to left field to make it 3-1 Cubs.

From there, Hendricks took over, helped out by the occasional moment of brilliant defense. With one out in the fifth, Derek Dietrich sent a deep fly ball to left center field that looked headed for extra bases and possibly out of the park. Almora furiously sprinted after it and leaped valiantly in front of the 387 foot marker, gloving the ball at the very apex of his jump while crashing into the wall as if his outfield instructor was Kool Aid Man. He also let out an “OH YEAAAAHHH!” as he picked himself up off the warning track. Even Hendricks momentarily forgot who he was as he put his hands to his head in the “Rizzo on third base in the 10th inning of Game 7” pose.

And then with runners on the corners and two out, Tucker Barnhart sent a sharp grounder up the middle that was stabbed by a diving Descalso. As he got to his knees, Descalso fumbled getting the ball out of his glove and things appeared to be dire. Until you could see him remember, “Oh right...the catcher hit that...” before throwing him out at first to retire the side.

That was it for the Reds on the night. Hendricks ended up with his first three hit game in the majors. Which happened to also be the number of hits he gave up to the Reds over eight-plus innings. The loudest cheer of the night came when Jason Heyward struck out in the ninth inning, earning all fans free food. You can tell there wasn’t much going on for Reds fans when everyone was successfully able to convince themselves they were excited by the concept of Cincinnati pizza.

The best word to describe Hendricks’s pitching tonight was “Brobdingnagian.” Or it would have been if the Reds bothered to do the reading.

Filed under: Game Recap

Tags: Cubs, Game Recap, Kyle Hendricks, Reds

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  • fb_avatar

    Kyle Hendricks, your table is ready!!

  • Kyle Hendricks:

    8IP, 3H, 1ER, 1BB, 7K
    3-for-4, 2 RBI
    1 W

    "Hey, I heard you missed us, we're back!
    I brought my pencil.
    Gimme something to write on, man."

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Would be an interesting spinoff video.

  • That was a pretty funny recap, Schultz.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    It was. Some folks prefer a blow-by-blow accounting of the action, but I enjoy a little style. I especially liked the "get off my lawn"-esque bunt quote.

  • fb_avatar

    I’m not sorry for trading Vogelbach for Monty—he helped us win in 2916 but I just saw that Vogelbomb hit his 11th HR tonight. Good for him. He was never going to take Rizz’s place so I’m happy for him.

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    Rare display of emotion. I think Maddon got someone up in the 'pen when Hendricks turned his head "2 degrees to the right." With Jon Lester it is usually easy guess what he's thinking. With someone like Hendricks you have to be a little more familiar with him.

  • Christopher Kamka
    Christopher Kamka @ckamka 19m
    Jon Lester & Kyle Hendricks combined this month 0.20 ERA in 44.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB, 37 K

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to BarleyPop:

    That is impressive.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Outside of Darvish the rotation has been fantastic for a couple weeks now. If we have an extra guy in the bullpen I like the sound of "piggy-backing" Montgomery with Darvish (or maybe Chatwood with Darvish if the other team feasts on lefties). Lately the rotation has been giving 6+ innings consistently so if we avoided extra innings the bullpen would be well rested.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I'm actually a little concerned about the innings on the starters, one thing the Cubs always did well was manage starters innings early becasuse they had the pen to rely on and then rebuilt that pen later in the season. Last year that strategy backfired and now it's gone the other way. Not 100% sure how that's going to play out with an older staff.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I actually think it is fine, outside of Lester’s last start the pitch counts have been fine. The pitchers have been very efficient. None of them are on pace for over 200 ip and they can always skip a start or go 5 a game or two.

    The beauty though is it is keeping big mileage off the bullpen.

    To be honest I am not sure you could draw it up any better.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bleedblue:

    Lester's last start I think Maddon and Lester talked and Maddon told him, "I'm going to ride you as long as possible tonight. Our bullpen threw 8 innings yesterday. Give 'em hell."

  • In reply to TC154:

    You all know I've long been a proponent in allowing the starters to go deeper TC. I think for the most part Joe is doing a good job watching their pitches. Maddon stretched them during that Milwaukee series, but I'd like to see the cubs treat these Milwaukee and Stl series as if they're playoff series. He needs to watch Lester a bit these next few starts but Hendricks and Hamels have generally been pretty efficient eating innings without pitch counts that are too high. Personally I find it refreshing that Maddon is entrusting his starters to go deeper. I understand what anaytics say about using a starter 3rd time though the order, but this cubs rotation isn't ordinary or close to average. These are our horses and I think we need to ride them, while at the same time closely monitoring their pitch counts.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I think we’re gonna see the 6-man rotation at times when they are in stretches of games with no day offs.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    We are 1 game into our current stretch of 33 games in next 34 days. It is as good a place as any to go with a 6 man rotation.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    I agree TCF. I don't think it will happen the first time through, but I can see Montgomery and/or Chatwood getting thrown in just at calculated points where each of their handedness and strengths matchup to expose our opponents weaknesses. The monkey wrench in the cog could be how Darvish fares in his starts, if one of those guys needs to bail him out. Hopefully Yu has a great start tonight!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    This is beautiful.

    I think we have a special team, that is about to shine. There's a glimpse here of an historic team.

  • Watch out, baseball. Kyle Hendricks was a Joey Votto at bat away from a shutout in a park that gives up 40% more runs than average ball parks. The Cubs have 2-4 starting pitchers every bit as good as him..

    Their offense is even better - second in MLB in OPS despite playing 21/39 games at Wrigley Field , where cold spring weather with wind howling in from right field has made it baseball's stingiest ballpak by a mile.

    The 1906 Cubs and the 2005 Mariners better watch out. This is a 120-win team if the cards play out right.

  • In reply to discubobulated:

    Correction.. 2001 Mariners.

  • In reply to discubobulated:

    I was about to post that you should slow your roll about comparing this team to 2016, and I’ll still tell you to do that on the win total, but after 39 games the 2016 team had a record of 28-11 and this team is only 3 games off that pace at 25-14. That’s really something when you think about it. With the quality of this division I still have a hard time projecting 100 wins but they are trying aren’t they? Oh and despite this PECOTA has the team going under .500 the rest of the way for 86 wins and 3rd place. They have the Cards winning it with 89 and and Milwaukee 2nd at 88. Go home computer, your drunk.

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    In reply to TC154:

    I'm not familiar with PECOTA's specific calculation. But I do know enough to know that while it is not infallible but is is also not "making stuff up." Does anyone here know how it comes up with the predictions it does?

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    PECOTA has had more than a screw loose for over a decade. Remember they had the Brewers around .500 pre-season last year.

    It also projected Matt Weiters to be a generational catcher and BP literally mocked the O’s for not bringing him up sooner.

    There is countless examples but I just give you one team and one individual that we’re miles off.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bleedblue:

    My question stands. It is not infallible. But I still don't know how it arrives at the conclusions it arrives at. What are the variables in the calculation? What weighting (if any) is there?

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Here you go, Joel:

    https://legacy.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?context=6&category=true

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I know PECOTA factors in regression for aging pitchers like Lester and Hamels to the extreme. vs. other sites. Which is funny because my opinion is there's nobody that I trust more than our "aging" pitchers such as those 2.

  • This. Team. Is. Good.

    And watch out Javy, if you keep turning over on those pitches and grounding out to the left side of 2nd base (like he's been doing quite a bit over the last week or so), Kris Bryant will have a higher OPS before the end of the week. And some people will be upset...

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I'll be crushed. But I have an idea that wasn't directed at me. Golden boy is back, and anyone who has tried playing sports at a high level when your body is broken knew this was only a matter of time.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    It is sad that things have progressed to a point where people are in "Camp Javy" and "Camp Bryant" and "Camp Schwarber." All three players are REALLY good. And all three have flaws in their game. Let's appreciate what each of them brings to the table. Between them they form quite a potent threat.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Which is exactly the point I have tried to get across every time this devolves down to verbal confrontations here (which I have been guilty of fanning the flames over). It’s great to fan and people have their own ways of doing it but no need for it to become divisive. There is no way any of us know what these guys go through, they get knicked and it affects their game, they worry about a sick kid or are travel lagged and catch an 0 for 8 or an 0 for 12.....doesn’t mean they suck.
    This is best run many of us have ever seen, sit back and enjoy the ride....36 blocks north of Madison is a hell of alot better than the 36 south....

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Great points. To elaborate we are in year five of highly competitive baseball on the north side. Year. Five. We've never seen that before and beyond that there are several homegrown (also some trades made while players were in the minors) players that contribute mightily. We've never see this in our lifetimes. Nothing else should really matter, but we're baseball fans and we like making arguments. It's all good until it gets silly and then hopefully we all know when to knock that crap off.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    It is sad, and I've admitted I briefly fell into that trap back in the "who do we trade, Javy or Soler" days. I didn't see anything in Soler's game, and thought the world of Javy. Sometimes, in making my case, I would knock Soler rather than propping up Baez. I've learned and tried to be better.

    They are all Cubs. Everyone is entitled to their own favorites. That's human nature and a fundamental aspect of following sports. But I'd rather root for "my guy" and celebrate his success than take joy in seeing someone else struggle.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Well said, BP. I love most of the Cubs, especially those who are high contributors. But I have to admit I'm a Rizzo guy foremost, with Javy and KB just a hair behind him. And I'll always be a Hendricks guy, too.

    But I think most Cubs fans are in the "same boat" as me and you. They root for all of the players to do well. It's just that a few very vocal folks seem to resent it when their player isn't the talk of the day.

    Let's fill up "Camp Cubs" on this blog.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I’m squarely in both their camps (all three actually, since you mentioned Schwarber). I see Kris Bryant as the superior bat for now. I’m really interested in seeing how high his on-base streak gets. I literally think he can get it to 50 games the way he is so consistent with his efforts, now that he’s got his mechanics locked in. I don’t know what the on-base streak record is, but I think it’s in the 60 game range.

    As for Baez, if he ever just accepts the walks when pitchers clearly aren’t challenging him, and then feasts on pitches in or right near the zone, like he’s totally proven to us that he’s capable of, I think he would be as dangerous as Barry Bonds on steroids! I know he’s got the talent and makeup for it. I want to see that!! I don’t get what’s wrong with believing there’s one thing for him to fix to be that kind of player? I think Javy can be the best player in the universe. A version of Michael Jordon on the baseball diamond.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Cubber Lang:

    We see eye-to-eye on Javy. I'm not demanding a 15% BB%. I would just like to see him not put himself behind in the count as much.

    Just for fun I was looking at his splits and his splits are all over the place. No one's got a perfect curve but his are exceptional. SSS applies but 1-1 his OPS is .509 (61 PAs). At 0-2 it is 1.207 (37 PAs). This could lead the unwary to the conclusion he's better off having that pitch called a strike than a ball.

    Javy is an extremely exciting player to watch. He is supremely talented.

    Let's remember, we are all part of "Camp Cubs." I think there were a couple of posters who said derogatory things about some players. People jumped to their defense. Honestly, there have been times where this place felt like warring camps.

  • fb_avatar

    Look at Javy's stats in the last 4 years. He has improved every year in BA, OBP, OPS (well, and SO too.) All those who thought he was too much of a free swinger didn't realize how smart and dedicated he was and how hard he's worked to make himself one of the best players in MLB. I think he's already the most exciting. Mike Trout is probably the best player, but from at bat, running the bases, playing defense, tagging, no doubt Javy is in a class by himself. We are lucky to be watching him grow and realize that he's not even in his prime yet.
    If I can combine 2 languages---El Mago Maggiore. The best magician.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I was one of those people who did NOT believe in Javy. That whiff rate back in 2015-2017.... man.. it was like terpentine sprinkled over a rug burn.

    But, if there's one thing I've learn in 2019, it's to stop worrying and trust the Javy.

    That dude's going to re-write much of what we thought we knew about baseball before it's all over.

  • In reply to discubobulated:

    I appreciate your honesty, and glad you have come around. I've always believed, even when faced with the negative impact of his free-swinging ways. He has a different offensive philosophy, and people are beginning to reluctantly take note.

    There are several things I look at when trying to evaluate a player's future. Talent, obviously, and El Mago has perhaps the most wide-ranging package of impact talent I've ever seen. But mental fortitude, the desire to improve and be the best you can be, is high on that list. Many people were turned off by his high K-rates early in his career, especially his historically bad 2014 debut. While that was ugly to watch, I actually took that as a positive step. That was tough love from a Cubs organization respected for being on the cutting edge of sports psychology. They called him up knowing he would fail miserably, and he did not disappoint. But that's what he needed. He had progressed to that point on sheer talent, and I get the feeling some of the coaching at the time wasn't getting through to him. They needed to show him what he was about to be competing against. Many young players would have their confidence crushed by such a humbling experience, and no organization would take that risk with such a prized prospect. That the Cubs did told me a lot about their confidence in his mental makeup and ability to adapt and even thrive on the adversity.

    I often mention that not only do I believe last season was not a fluke career year, but he actually has another gear. We all see him occasionally flail away at bad pitches but those instances are becoming less frequent. He has an agressive hitting philosophy, one that I believe is the polar opposite of our current superstar opponent, Joey Votto. Votto stays with his approach, spitting on anything out of the zone. It's impressive and I don't mean to knock him. But I do believe some of the criticism on his passiveness is justified. If he was surrounded by more offensive talent, it would be wise to simply take your base and "pass the baton". But for much of his career, he was alone. I think there have been times he should have been more agressive for the benefit of his team.

    I don't say that to bash Votto, but to highlight my feelings on Javy's next steps. I don't think he will ever walk much, though he is improving. He likes to HAM! But I think the next thing we will begin seeing, over the next couple years, will be a maturity with regards to realizing this is a loaded lineup. Unlike for so many years with Votto, he doesn't have to do everything himself. I think he will grow into becoming a more stable offensive force, even if that means dialing it back a bit. Pick your pitches. Take your base. Pass the baton.

    Years ago I pegged him settling into a slash line of .290/.330/.520. He's already blowing by even my lofty expectations. I don't know that he ever gets his walk rate up to 10%, I actually doubt it, but I think he is still growing. I think his desire to be the best is strong. I think he will solve the issue of being more selective. He is, and it's an absolute joy to witness.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    It's late and I can't sleep, so I'll keep going...

    There are several other thoughts I have about Javy, and why I think he'll get even better. These mostly involve my perceptions of his personality and the little I know of his personal life, so take them for what it's worth.

    As much as I gush on Javy, I've been critical. I've said that some of his stalls in progression early in his career were the result of cockiness. Sometimes young players with so much natural talent are slow to develop. That natural ability can sometimes override sound coaching. It's always been so easy. I think that was the case with Javy, and the reason for the premature "trial-by-fire" call-up in 2014.

    Cockiness in a ballplayer usually turns me off, but in this case, I think it can be a motivating factor. Every single thing I've ever read about Javy is he is team-first. He wants to win. He pushes and motivates his teammates to be better. In his case, I think that arrogance will drive him to higher levels.

    To say Javy loves his family is an understatement. It's tattooed all over his body. His sister was his heart, and her loss delayed his development. But that dedication to family is another issue I think will drive him to be better. He now has a son of his own, and I have no doubt that is an inspiration to him to leave a legacy.

    Javy can be selfish on a baseball field, but not in a bad way. His intentions are good, knowing that he alone can do things no one else can to help his team win. I think it's that unselfish selfishness that will drive him to further greatness. He will notice the flaws in his game and improve them. He wants to leave a legacy, to make his family proud. Someday thoughts of what it's going to take to get Hall consideration will begin creeping into his head. And then he'll selfishly go about clearing those hurdles, much to the benefit of the Chicago Cubs.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I think he will mature even more as a professional hitter but I would love to see the walk and strikeout rates balance out and get closer, if that happens then he will also win a batting title someday.
    Billy Williams struck out only one more time than he walked.....in his entire career.....can you imagine Baez’s offensive numbers like Cubber said, if he goes from the 80/20 K/BB rate to say.......60/40?
    But.....whatever......he is OURS! Which I suppose is the best thing.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    So your statement about Votto: "If he was surrounded by more offensive talent, it would be wise to simply take your base and 'pass the baton.' "

    Isn't Baez surrounded by enough offensive talent already to do the same? I guess Baez didn't get that memo... Why do you let a guy with over 2000 PA over 6 seasons off the hook in helping the team score more runs? It seems like a double standard, especially after using the Votto example.

    I love that Javy keeps progressing and getting better at all facets of the game. I honestly thought we'd see him get there sooner than he has already. He has the talent to hit .340/.420/.700 and be the best player in the game! All he has to do is stop giving away an easy out every once in a while. As an example, I've complained about it enough, but I'll give examples from today's game. Tonight, in 2 of his AB's, he was really trying to pull the ball while being pitched low and outside. That is the recipe for the ground ball to left side of the IF. There was also another AB where he saw 6 pitches with not one of them even close to the strike zone, yet he still hit a grounder up the middle to the SS side of second base, it was fielded by the 2nd baseman who was positioned right up the middle, but Javy's hustle beat out the throw! I loved that he beat that out, but he could've just as easily accepted the walk there when the pitcher was not challenging him at all. We've seen him turn those AB's into outs more than not; and yes I know he has blooped some of those swings at balls out of the zone over the infielders heads and managed to get big RBIs that way. But that's just luck more than anything, they're not the hard hit balls that make Javy so dangerous, and unfortunately, it's those instances that reinforces that he should keep doing it; that's the counter-productive part.

    Take just 10 of the at bats he's given away this year (which have resulted in strikeouts) and turn them into walks, and his slash line goes from .325/.362/.620/.982 up to .346/.418/.620/1.038. The numbers look good either way, but which one passes the eye test in flying colors? Yet I'd debate that the result would be that his slugging percentage would get even higher (remember I mentioned I think he can have a .700 slug%?), thus an even higher OPS as well. In each of those at bats, we'd have another runner on base, and one less out, as you know leaving his teammates with the opportunity to drive him in, especially the way he puts pressure on defenses as he navigates the base paths.

    I was looking at the plate discipline stats on fangraphs. Interestingly enough, Javy's seeing even less pitches in the strike zone (35.5%) this year than any other season, even his first call up where he didn't receive much pitches that were very hittable. His swing rate on pitches in the zone is 74.9% while his swing rate on pitches outside the zone is 43.6%. His contact rate when swinging at pitches in the zone is 84.2% (the best it's ever been), and his contact rate swing at pitches out of the zone is 54.5% (2nd best of his career behind 2016). Just for contrast, KB's swing rate at pitches in the zone is 74.4% compared to 24.2% swing rate outside the zone. KB's contact rate when swinging at pitches inside the zone is 81.5%, and 71.8% contact rate swinging at pitches out of the zone. I just want to see Javy use the discretion to get those numbers closer to KB's approach.

    Javy's consistently making hard contact better than anybody in baseball I believe, but will he maintain that and his current .402 BABIP (by the way- KB's BABIP this season is only .291) if he's gonna keep expanding his zone, or trying to pull/crush balls? He's leading the league in slugging going the opposite way, so why even bother trying to pull the ball, unless the pitcher's trying to beat him on the inside corner? The good thing is Javy does recognize this pretty quickly and reigns his approach back in. He did that today even when KB was on base. All of a sudden he wasn't trying to do too much, but for the last week or so, there's been an alarming number of AB's (I think mostly with no one on base) where he's looking like he's trying to pull a HR ball into the LF stands.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I'll begin by saying I feel naked. That was some killer research, and I'm ad-libbing.

    Baez has been surrounded by enough talent to be more disciplined, but he hasn't been until recently. I very clearly called him out, and used the Votto comp to make the case there are conflicting offensive philosophies. Javier Baez is no Joey Votto, but I think when all is said and done, people will say Joey Votto was no Javier Baez.

    You kind of contradict yourself throughout your post, but that's why I love interacting with you, Cubber. We both want the same thing. Javy's game in every aspect is top rate, except when narrowed down to offensive analytics. He can be better, and I try to lay out the reasons I think he will be.

    When looking deeper into his numbers, the thing that sticks out to me is his contact info. He is making hard contact at absurd rates, with most of that going the other way. He is far and away the best in baseball in oppo power. I noted early last season that was the thing I noticed. He made a timing adjustment, delaying a split second before making a commitment to swing. This allowed him to take advantage of his oppo power on fastballs while staying back just enough to yank breaking stuff rather than being so far out in front. It's even more pronounced this season. Javy is hitting for an average of .610 and an OPS of 1.293, an ungodly 407 wRC+, when going the other way (these #'s are from two days ago, I haven't updated my memory since then).

    I get your critiques, Cubber, but at some point you can't criticize every AB. He's going to fail. We both want the same thing, and I enjoy bantering with you because I can tell you see the same potential I do. But take time to enjoy it. I do.

    The critiques you have are valid. If Javy fixes those he will be the perfect baseball player. Even I haven't projected that.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I even reread my post and don’t know where I’ve contradicted myself...

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Contradicting yourself was a poor choice of words on my part. What I meant was was how you so meticulously laid out the good and bad.

    Again, I enjoy the banter, even when you have to bring me down off my Javy cloud. I look forward to the discussions we will have when, not if but when, he tightens up those few remaining aspects of his offensive game and becomes Michael Jordan on a diamond.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Great Barley.... I hope he doesn't look anything like Michael Jordan playing baseball, but the MJ of beisbol.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Cubber, I didn’t see the game live but was on gamecast. If gamecast was accurate I have a small issue using one of Javy’s at bats as evidence. His at bat against Hughes showed 6-7 pitches before he grounded out. I believe all pitches before the ground out were either on the inside corner or off the plate inside. What does this mean? It means they were pounding him inside. With that type of pitching I am sure Javy geared up a little early to take advantage of this tactic. Unfortunately Hughes finally threw a slider that got to the outer third which Javy got out front on. I believe he was “thinking” through the at bat and took a calculated risk. I don’t think that was mindless flailing trying to pull a ball. If he did that on the first pitch then I would agree. Given it was on pitch 7-8 of an at bat when he was pounded inside is a different story.

    Nice analysis, BTW. Javy will not have a .402 BABIP at year end. But he certainly can lead in hard contact. I am ok with less walks from him. Someone eventually needs to drive in runs. If we are honest, Contreras is the only other guy who can drive in runs. I don’t think Schwarber, Almora, Heyward, Bote, Russell, or Descalso can be counted on to be a run producer. So Javy swinging more freely is good by me. If Schwarber gets hot, then more selectivity is ok.

    Great stuff and thanks for digging in.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    I wasn't able to watch much of the game but I did get to see the PA in question (Javy vs. Hughes). I agree with Cubber. While Javy did get on base through "grit-and-hustle" it was largely wasted effort. Hughes did EVERYTHING he could to BB Javy. And Javy almost turned it into an out. I remember watching the PA with disbelief.the count was 1-2 and it should have been 4-0 not because of bad umpiring but because he was swinging at pitches outside the zone. And we're not talking about "nibbling" on the black. Fortunately he was fouling them off so he didn't K. And he did get on base but it was a close run thing. I don't recall a play so close to a "tie" at 1B.

    I don't mean to say that all of his PAs are like that. It was just an illustration of the kinds of trouble that swinging at pitches outside the zone can result in. He was putting himself in a bad count without forcing the pitcher to give him a pitch to hit. He hit the ball softly. Yes it turned into a hit but it was the kind of hit that BABIP tends to even out during the season.

    I love watching Javy play. I think he is one of the, if not THE, most exciting player in baseball. I also realize that he will likely never become "Joey Votto" (by the way, nice contrast in styles, BP, between Votto and Javy) and spit on pitches fractions of an inch off the plate. He is a bad-ball hitter who sometimes gets lucky and bloops a single. He has plenty of power to demolish pitches in the zone. He can hurt the opposing team in so many ways: power, oppo field hits/power, solid defense, baserunning, exquisite baseball IQ. I do not mean to say/imply that he is "bad" or "over-rated." What I do think is that sometimes his habits hurt the offense. The instance last night was one with a positive outcome (a 1B), and it didn't result in a run, but I would rather see him willing to lay off pitches outside the zone.

    I know he will never have a 10%+ BB%. I would love 7-8%. I would be satisfied with 5%. When it dips below 5% his value, to me, starts going down. If I am a pitcher I would not throw him a strike until I had 3-balls already. If he is willing to swing at pitches outside the zone, pitches he is unlikely to get much power behind, I would let him do that. If he happens to get a slow bouncer and beat out the throw for a single or manages to bloop a single on a pitch that bounces I'm fine with that as a pitcher. That is the BABIP dragon. Neither ball was hit hard. Neither had any real chance of being an XBH.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Gamecast had the pitches on the inside edge and on the knees. He worked the count to 3-2 laying off another buried slider and an inside sinker. He put the ball in play with 2 strikes. That's a decent at bat. Especially given the result was not an out.

    With 4 of the first 5 pitches pounding the inside zone, I still think Javy was getting out early to yank one into the seats. These were 92 MPH sinkers running in versus flat 4-seamers. So to be extra picky and take borderline pitches is not something I am up in arms with given the game situation.

    I am not one to get worked up over his BB%. Sometimes you need guys who's OBP is mainly made up of batting average. Javy is one of those. He reminds me of Nomar Garciaparra who had 1 season of a 10% BB rate (only because he was IBB 20 times that season). And he turned out to be an OK hitter.

    I do agree that I would like to see Javy become more disciplined where he can lay off bad pitches and get in more favorable hitting counts.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    Watching the game the pitches looked well off the plate. I am fine with swinging at a pitch a little off the plate. Sometimes the batter is fooled. Sometimes it is just trying to foul it off to "live to see another pitch." I have seen a lot of "backwards K's" (score-keeping parliance) over the years and they are maddening. If it is close and you have 2 strikes then go ahead and hack at it, hopefully foul it off if you don't get a hit.

    Baseball is always a balancing act. It's one of the things I like about it. It isn't always obvious when the batter should be "aggressive," "selective," or "selectively aggressive." Maybe the 1-0 pitch is the pitch you can do something with. Take your single and move on. Other times you might want to let it go--even if it is a strike--and hope that a later pitch is "a pitch you can drive." Very often we let the "result" color our judgment. If he hits a single on the 1-0 pitch it was a "quality PA." If he hits a sharp grounder to 3B and is thrown out it can be tempting to call it a "lost opportunity" and "swinging at a 'pitcher's pitch.' "

    My natural inclination is to prefer a guy who will look at a strike (provided it isn't strike 3) because he can't do much with it. But also have the bat-to-ball skills to be able to foul off the same pitch later in the PA to make the pitcher throw another pitch. But the combination of skills (the ability to put the bat on the ball consistently AND have the discipline to NOT swing at a ball just because you can "make contact" with it) is exceedingly rare. Like the number of professional hitters that can do it consistently is probably in the single digits. Probably because the two almost work against eachother. The same skill set, work out routines, practice, etc. that hone one skill make the other one LESS likely.

    I have picked on Javy's swinging and missing at pitches outside the zone. The skill I'd like to see Bryant and Schwarber work on would be the ability to "foul off" good pitches late in the count. Foul off the 2-2 or 3-2 pitch that is too close to take. Then perhaps walk or get a hit on the next pitch. Both of them seem to strike out looking an awful lot. I'd like to see Javy "take" more pitches that are out of the zone and have Bryant/Schwarber not be wrung up looking as much.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    One of my favorite quotes by a local kid who had a "cup-of-coffee" with the D-backs was, "It's better to the 0 AND 2 than 0 FOR 2."

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Personally, I like Javy's approach at the plate. There is more to it than people realize. He is looking off-speed and outside the whole way. There is a reason he leads the MLB in opposite field hits. He is crushing that outside slider or curve when it catches the strike zone. It is incredibly difficult for a pitcher to throw a slider 4" off of the plate with any consistency. Usually he will miss and catch the plate or closer once in a while. That is all Javy needs. He is hitting those sliders for doubles and HRs to RF.

    So it's really funny to hear the MLB.com guys say invariably 'Why did the pitcher throw Javy a fast ball' when they invariably show him knocking out a FB for a home run in a highlight. So why does a pitcher throw Javy FBs? Why? Because that pitcher has no choice. If he wants to have consistent success with Javy, he has no choice but to throw at least one FB per at bat to Javy, just to mess with his timing. Because Javy is killing his slider (or curve), or whatever off-speed pitch he relies on. That is what he is sitting on. They need to mix in the FB (usually inside or high) to get him off of the outside slider. And guess what? Sometimes that FB doesn't hit it's intended location, or even if it does and is a strike, Javy can punish it.

    But for anybody to say that all pitchers need to do with Javy is throw sliders off of the outside corner all day, and he will bite, is not actually watching his at bats. There is a reason he has been crushing pitchers the last two seasons now, and it's not because scouts have suddenly gotten stupid about pitching to Javy. It's because he has turned that scouting directive into a real strength.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I watched the game and saw the pitch locations with my own eyes. Nothing was close. You are right they did work him inside on that AB so it’s fair enough in you saying he should be looking to pull there. After reading your first reply to me I looked on the mlb.com boxscore where you can see pitch locations, as I didn’t even do that before making my original posts. When I watch these games, the world stops turning when Javy bats and I pay close attention. That was his worst AB of the day. Sure he earned the single bc his hustle and grit like Joel said, but man, he coulda walked, at worst in 5 pitches, because I was ok with trying to his the first pitch, because I’ve seen him take that pitch deep. But after that, the pitches were even worse and he just kept trying to hit unhitable pitches. Further, as hustles so hard and hit the bag, when they showed the replay I actually thought he was out. The Reds even challenged the call. It was too close to be changed, but what if Javy hurt himself trying to leg that out when the pitcher was trying to walk him? I don’t just complain about Javy to complain. I see him K on at bats where the pitcher just over matches him. I don’t get down on him for that. The fact is that this season he only gets 1 in 3 pitches in the zone. These are major league pitchers who are better at throwing strikes than that. The pitchers are giving Javy lots of respect to pitch him that way, or maybe it’s actually disrespect if they know he’ll offer at it. Javy just should accept that compliment a little more often, take first base, and he will become even more dangerous.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Cubber—on ESPN they were borderline strikes so that is what I am basing my analysis on. I don’t disagree with being more selective.

    Typically a hitter gets better pitches when in favorable counts. So no argument from me.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Great analysis, Cubber.

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    Even though for some reason your name reminds me of a late 70's Cardinal reliever, this was a really good, entertaining game recap..Please do more! Kudos

  • In reply to John Nesbit:

    Are you thinkig of LHP Buddy Schultz who played 2 years for the Cubs and 3 years for the Cardinals in the '70s?

    And like many others, Buddy's record with the Cardinals was MUCH better than it was with the Cubs. Sigh.

  • I don't know what I like watching more during a Hendrick's start; seeing a hitter flail away at the change as it fades out of the zone or watching them take an 88 mph thigh high fastball over the outer third because they were guessing change. You can practically see the cartoon cuss bubble over their heads. :-).

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    In reply to Rick Tuesday:

    I love the K looking far more. Any time a batter swings at a pitch weird stuff can happen. And there is such a defeated--almost embarrassed--look when they strike out on a pitch that they know, after the fact, they could have hit 400+ feet.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I probably do too. Although during the Cardinal start, Kyle got Goldschmidt to swing and miss with one of those "oh #$%^ its in the strike zone" late swings on that 88 mph "heater"...that was hilarious.

  • Love that the team is winning pitching now seems to be carrying the load. My big concern for the long haul is the production from the OF.
    Yes, the Cubs have played most of their home games in less than ideal conditions and still SSS but hopefully, the Team gets more contributions from the starting OF.
    Team Stats: OBS .795, 73 2B, 58 HR, BA .255
    Heyward: OBS .795, 2 2B, 6 HR, BA .250
    Schwarber: OBS .699, 4 2B, 4 HR, BA .245
    Almora: OBS .630, 5 2B, 2 HR, BA .221
    Zobrist: OBS .596 1 2B, 0 HR, BA .241

  • In reply to CubFanStuckInStl:

    I'm curious to see how the Cubs OF stacks up against the rest of MLB. We are likely bottom third in all meaningful hitting categories.

    Trade deadline pickups: Alex Gordon, Nick Castellanos or the like...

  • In reply to LAX2ORD:

    What do the cubs have to trade. Minors are slim and poor hitting MLB roster players won’t get anything in a trade.

  • In reply to stix:

    They're not trading for any OF, frankly with the core four and guys who go on hot streaks the offense is fine. They'll probably end up trading Russell and a prospect for a pen arm at some point. Maybe Caratini if they have to.

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    In reply to stix:

    You mean we can't convince the Angels to "off-load" some salary and maybe give us Trout for Zagunis? What if we included our old standby from EVERY trade proposal a few years ago: Dan Vogelbach? LOL

  • Nothing against the other writers who contribute their time, knowledge, and talents to keep this site going, but this was one of the best, funniest articles about a single baseball game I’ve ever read

  • https://www.cubsinsider.com/2019/05/15/court-records-reveal-ben-zobrists-absence-due-to-pending-divorce-proceedings/

    Unfortunately my suspicions were right after Julianna Zobrist deleted many social media pictures with Ben. Looks like they're officially getting a divorce. I wish my best to Ben, Julianna, and their family during this tough time. I hate to relate this story to baseball but it could help explain his struggles. Ben has always seemed like a big family man and I imagine this must be a difficult time for their family. I wish him the best and let this be a reminder to all that these guys are human beings that have lives outside of baseball

  • How good is that contract extension for Hendricks looking now,... Whatever 'hiccups' he was having the first week or so he's definitely worked his way back out of.

    It's like he just doesn't get a good feel for the ball early in the season, especially when it's cold.

  • Can’t we find some outfielders on the cheap somewhere. We have no power out there at all and now with Heyward retuning to his old self it’s only gonna get worse. Throw in Bote and we have 4-5 starters who are batting about 240. Is there anyone in our system who can hit. Starting pitching can’t carry us all year.

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    I think the FO is going to stick with what we currently have for a while. There is no hurry. The team is playing OK.

  • Time to move Jayson Heyward back out of the leadoff spot?

    Since assuming that role May 8, Jayson has gone 3 for 28 and seen his BA plummet from .290 to .255. I remember articles from last year that documented his struggles when the Braves had him leading off during his last years in Atlanta; many thought he had become too passive.

    Surely the Cubs analytical staff (are they called QA?) are all over this and Joe will move Heyward back to the #6 spot where he was excelling a few weeks back.

    AA seems to be having more good at bats; time to give him another shot at leadoff?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Not all Heyward's fault. His BABIP during that time is .091 (!!!) compared to a .299 career number. Much like has been the case during his slump though while his hard contact has gone down, his soft contact has remained unchanged with all the percentage points moving from soft to medium. I'd keep him there for now and wait for that BABIP to normalize.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Should have read moving from hard to medium.

  • I wonder how long Ben will be on leave of absence now that divorce is official announcement.

  • In reply to AzChris:

    Divorce sucks,... I hope it's at least relatively amicable, and that Zobrist takes all the time he needs. It would be hard to keep his head in the game while all that is going on - especially if there is more than a touch of animosity.

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