Early Morning Dabs: Is

The First Hundred

Is remains a word that you wouldn't get very far in life without being able to say. But the old Monty Python joke only works because the two letter verb is so critical to human understanding. The fundamental question about the 2019 Cubs is still what is...I mean are they?

The Cubs have taken a pretty big first step to yet another hot second half. The hiccup on Monday remains notable, but the Cubs are 5-1 in the most important statistic. What are they depends a lot on who is Yu Darvish (and Jose Quintana...and Cole Hamels)? The hot streak has been fueled by the starting staff pitching up to its potential one turn and a start through the rotation.

Yu the X-Factor

There might not be a Chicago athlete more psycho-analyzed than Yu Darvish since Jay Cutler took his talents to South Beach. Darvish has been accused of having just about every possible mental defect an athlete could have, but one of the more interesting things is the idea that Darvish somehow was unable to pitch with a lead.

Darvish yesterday pitched one of his best starts as a Cub and twice was able to shut down the opposition after the Cubs scored in the first couple of innings. Perhaps that might put to bed the whole shutdown inning debate from earlier, but it is doubtful that this recent run of success will be enough to dispel those notions.

The truth was always that Darvish usually pitched better with the lead than from behind (this is common for starting pitchers since their performance contributes directly to pitching from behind or ahead). However, his splits were stark this year, and it fed a nice ready made narrative about mental toughness.

Darvish's command has taken a dramatic step forward in this good run, and that highlights what has been Darvish's biggest issue as a Cub. It hasn't been when damage was allowed but the sheer amount he allowed. And often it was largely of his creation. His stuff remains good, and heads and tails better than any other Cubs starter. If Darvish has this level of command with the stuff the Cubs playoff odds just went up a lot.

Power, Scarcity and the "Jackrabbit" Ball

# of 30+ HR hitters
2010 18
2011 23
2012 26
2013 14
2014 11
2015 19
2016 36
2017 37
2018 26

Cubs Common Denominator Lineup

So no one was able to guess yesterday's lineup. Partly that was due to the reader numbers being lower for yesterday's less than stellar effort on my part, but also it was a difficult puzzle. The feature that each of those players shared is that they made exactly one Opening Day start for the Cubs. Here is the lineup with the year that they made their start.

Only Opening Day Start Name Position
2006 Juan Pierre CF
1956 Monte Irvin LF
2001 Ricky Gutierrez SS
2013 Luis Valbuena 3B
1943 Eddie Stanky 2B
1999 Benito Santiago C
1975 Pete LaCock 1B
1980 Ken Henderson RF
1992 Greg Maddux Pitcher

Here is your puzzle for today.

CCDL #15 Name Position AVG OBP SLG HR SB
1 Bill Nicholson RF 0.272 0.368 0.471 205 26
2 Hack Wilson CF 0.322 0.412 0.590 190 34
3 Hank Sauer LF 0.269 0.348 0.512 198 6
4 Ernie Banks SS 0.274 0.330 0.500 512 50
5 Roger Hornsby 2B 0.350 0.435 0.604 26 10
6 Ron Santo 3B 0.279 0.366 0.472 337 35
7 Gabby Hartnett C 0.297 0.370 0.489 231 28
8 Fred McGriff* 1B 0.276 0.361 0.510 42 1
9 Anthony Rizzo* Pitcher 0.00 ERA 0 K 0 BB 0 Wins 0 Losses

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  • "It depends on what the definition of the word 'is' is..."

    Seems like I've heard that somewhere before, but I don't remember a connection with baseball...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I honestly thought about that when constructing this but decided against given how we want to handle those type of items here.

  • This puzzle has got to be something off the wall. Rizzo as the pitcher....hmm.
    I thought McGriff would be important and I went through some game logs from 2001. Ugh. I know that the Cubs played over there heads that year but yikes, what happened? My memory of baseball is foggy of that August/September for obvious reasons. Up 1.5 games after taking 2/3 in Houston, then playing under .500 the rest of the way. Shades of 2018.

  • Dabs: Darvish was and remains the key because he has playoff wipeout stuff, and going into the division championship series and beyond a team will use 4 starters. #34, #28, #35 and now #11 with #62 as the quick hook or middle inning long man. With a wipeout starter sandwiched between two grizzled vets seems to be a nice setup.

    In the other X factor is Russell, he gets hot and it stabilizes the middle infield and allows Garcia to be placed into the lineup that is both advantageous to his bat and glove but also might allow Russell to rest Baez occassionally.

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    Players with a season with 30HR/100RBI? These guys were/have been some great sluggers. A little confused with Hornsby's stat line there, in 1929 he hit 39HR and hit .380 for the Cubs.

  • In reply to Joe Martínez:

    The stat lines listed are their career numbers with the Cubs, I think.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Right. As a cub he hit 58 HR, not 26. The 26 are from his time with the NYG

  • In reply to Joe Martínez:

    You're right I don't get it either It looks like all the other players are career stats and Roger Hornsby's HR and SB are something else. Have no idea what.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    *Career stats while playing for the Cubs.*

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    They are meant to be Cubs career stats and it was a transcription error on my part.

  • In reply to Mike Banghart:

    That's twice now in a few days. You're fired.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I need to start writing earlier in the day is more the issue (and am working on the CCDL for tomorrow at the moment). Last night I was getting frustrated because tried to incorporate a tweet into my article and it ended up deleting a big chunk of text from my article twice. There were a few choice words said when it happened a second time, and nearly just gave up that night.

  • In reply to Mike Banghart:

    I've heard Michael say the same thing about losing text. Everything I've ever done on this site is from a $30 Wal-Mart phone. It's a nightmare trying to even do simple links. But that's my fault. I'm just not a sit-at-the-computer person. I'm breaking down and upgrading my technological capabilities, and may even begin to offer more content, if ya'll would do me the honor. I have other talents I've never revealed here before. I noticed a line you said about growing several days ago.

    Keep up the good work. We are all very grateful.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    It's almost six PM and I'm just now giving this some thought. First off, dabs, don't be so hard on yourself. Low comment totals doesn't directly correlate to the quality of your work. Keep it up, my man.

    Obviously some more all-time greats, but the asterisks next to McGriff and Rizzo's names are some kind of clue, as is Rizzo listed as a P. Seeing Wilson in CF immediately led me to think highest single- season WAR, but I can name many players better over this lineup in a single season. Sosa in RF, D-Lee at 1B, etc., and again there are some 1B shenanigans going on. I try to do these without looking anything up, just based on my knowledge, which is a little fuzzy at times. I'll grab another couple beers and give it a shot in a few minutes.

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