Tag Archives: stats

One picture to sum up the season so far


So, yeah. The Cubs have won every game in which they’ve scored more than six runs. They’ve won 80% of the games in which they’ve scored between four and six. And they’ve lost every game where they’ve scored less than four.

The bullpen has been bad, but it’s really not the Cubs’ main problem. They should be better than 0-12 when they score less than four, but you wouldn’t expect them to have a good record when they get that little offense. The problem is that they have twelve games where they’ve scored less than four runs. If they keep scoring two runs or less in a third of their games, they’re going to be in trouble. If the offense can pick them up, though, they’ll be alright.


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Is Kosuke really better?

Kosuke Fukudome had a terrible second half last season. And he followed it up with a terrible World Baseball Classic, which led into a terrible, abbreviated, spring training. Then he went 0-4 in the season opener, and didn’t start in game two, and I, at least, concluded that he’d be lucky to get half the plate appearances in center field.

Then in game three, he went 4-5 with a walk and a home run, and he hasn’t really stopped hitting since. Through seventeen games (that is, through everything before the Arizona series), he had, in 77 PAs, a .371/.481/.661 line, with four home runs.

This isn’t just as good as his hot start last year, it’s better. After 77 PAs last year, Fukudome looked like he’d be the rookie of the year, with a .317/.442/.460 line. This  year, he’s hitting for a higher average, and as a result, getting on base more. His walks are down from 14 at this time last year to 13 this year – but last year, two of those were intentional, and none are this year. And he’s slugging 200 points better, because he’s hit more home runs in the first seventeen games than he did in the first 50 last year.

Can he keep it up? Well, almost certainly not. His batting average on balls in play is .413, which is unsustainable (although actually a little low for his also-unsustainable 31.3% line-drive percentage). And it’s a little higher than his BABIP at the same point last year, which was .387. So we can expect that average to drop a bit. But home runs aren’t part of BABIP, so if those keep up, he’s going to be much better.

In fact, he’s likely to put up a much better line for the whole season, anyway. Fukudome hit, after this point last year, .249/.346/.368. If he were to equal last season’s numbers, he’d have to go .241/.339/.333. It’s possible he could hit those average and on-base numbers, but I’m not sure he could equal that slugging number for the rest of the season if he tried. So it looks like, while Fukudome could still fall below the high hopes people had when he came to MLB, he’s in the midst of what we’ll look back at as something of an improvement on the season.

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Cubs/Reds Series Preview

The Cubs go on the road for three are at home for three games against the Reds (I don’t know why I thought this was the start of the road trip). This is the one place we might really miss Mark DeRosa, since if memory serves, he just destroyed the Reds every time the two teams played in the last two seasons. But the current Cubs hitters have done alright against the pitching they’re going to face. First up for the Reds is Micah Owings, who no Cub has had 10 PA against. He could certainly put together a good game, but I fear his 129 OPS+ at the plate more than I fear him as a pitcher. The other two scheduled to go in this series are Johnny Cueto and Aaron Harang, who do have several Cubs who’ve accumulated 10 PAs against them:


This might be a good chance for Soto to break out – he’s done really well against the Reds’ starters in the past, and he’s got to start hitting some time. Lee has been hitting well over his last few games, too, and he’s a good candidate to continue that trend. Note that Z has pretty good numbers of Harang, too. I’m sure there will be comparisons between him and Owings, so I bet he’ll be looking to get that first home run on Thursday.

Harden, yet again, hasn’t faced many of the Reds very often. The whole team only has a handful of appearances against him, with Laynce Nix as the sole Red who qualifies for listing here. The smattering of appearances Reds batters do have against Harden, though, favor Harden. There’s more data for Lilly and Zambrano, who’ve been in the NL Central slightly longer than Harden.


The Reds who are not Brandon Phillips have hit Lilly rather hard, and you have to figure that’s the game the Cubs are most likely to lose. Zambrano has handled the Reds pretty well, holding their current players well below where their team OPS has been over his career.

The Reds are 7-5 right now, so they’re right there with the Cubs and the Cardinals so far. They’re not hitting very well as a team.  Hopefully the Cubs starters can keep their bats cold for another three games and get a few wins to before they start the road trip.

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Soriano’s Season WPA

Soriano’s Win Probability Added is now at 1.28 over the first ten games of the season. That’s second in the majors behind Aaron Hill, who is at 1.30 I thought it might be interesting to see the ebb and flow of WPA for Soriano this season. I didn’t start the graph at 0 at bats, so it starts with the result of his first at bat (a home run), which is why it doesn’t start at 0 WPA.


The giant spike there is his 9th-inning go-ahead homer off the Brewers last week. The second-largest one is, of course, his home run yesterday to put the Cubs ahead in the eighth. Since they had another frame coming up to bat in, there was a chance they could take the lead back there, too, which is why yesterday’s home run didn’t add quite as much win probability as the one against the Brewers. In fact, five of the top six win-probability-adding events for Soriano this season were his five home runs. The other? A bases-loaded walk against Jeff Suppan on April 12 that extended the Cubs’ lead. The biggest negative event (good for -.104) was Soriano’s two-out flyout against Adam Wainwright in the sixth with the bases loaded on Thursday.


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Cardinals Series Preview

Up next: four games against the Cardinals. Would be nice to see the Cubs take the series. Would also be nice to see Aramis and Milton Bradley healthy for the series, since neither of them played at all against the Rockies.

Here are the current Cubs versus the Cardinals’ starters who are going in this series. The graph only shows those Cubs with 10 PAs against the Cardinals’ starters. The “total” line includes all plate appearances by current Cubs against the Cardinals’ pitchers.


The Cubs have done very well against Wainwright and especially Lohse, with Ramirez in particular putting up cartoonish numbers against Lohse. Lee has had the worst success of any of these hitters against any of these pitchers, with a .334 OPS versus Wellemeyer, but he seems to be getting hot in the last few days, so maybe he can turn that around.

On to the Cubs’ starters versus the Cardinals.


The most noticeable thing to me is how the Cubs starters have fared against Pujols. Pujols has a career 1.050 OPS.  In other words, even Dempster, against whom he’s OPSing .788, has handled him fairly well. Meanwhile, Yadier Molina has done better than his career average against every Cub except Marshall, so he’s picked up some of the slack.

No matchup graph for this one to compare starter ERAs versus the other team – with Carpenter on the DL I’m not sure exactly how the Cardinals are managing their rotation, so I don’t know who’s starting which days.

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Where things stand

Just a quick look at the numbers for the Cubs, and how they stacked up, as of the end of Monday.


  • OPS+: 108 (3rd NL, 8th MLB)
  • OBP: .374 (1st NL, 4th MLB)
  • HR: 11 (2nd NL, T-5th MLB)
  • BB: 38 (2nd NL, 2nd MLB)
  • R/G: 5.43 (5th NL, 11th MLB)
  • Offensive MVP (by WPA): Alfonso Soriano, .90 (1st NL, 1st MLB)


  • ERA+: 141 (5th NL, 9th MLB)
  • K/9: 9.3 (1st NL, 2nd MLB)
  • SO/BB: 2.10 (4th NL, 7th MLB)
  • R/G: 3.57 (5th NL, 7th MLB)
  • Pitching MVP (by WPA): Carlos Marmol, .55 (3rd NL, 6th MLB)

The Cubs have scored 38 runs and allowed 25 runs. Their overall record is 5-2, and their pythagorean record is also 5-2.

Based on these numbers, the generic BP playoff odds report projects the Cubs to 82.3 wins, third in the NL central, with a 26.4% playoff chance. The PECOTA-adjusted odds project the Cubs to 97.2 wins, first in the NL central (and in the NL), with a 69.2% playoff chance. The ELO-adjusted report is not yet available.

All in all, hard to complain about those numbers after a week in which the bullpen has seemed shaky, Bradley and Lee haven’t hit and Soto, Bradley and Ramirez have all missed time.

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What was Reed’s catch worth last night?

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of Reed Johnson’s catch to rob Prince Fielder of a grand slam last night. If he didn’t catch that ball, the game would have been tied, the Cubs would have squandered a four-run lead, and odds are good that Dempster would have been pulled earlier in the game. The Brewers still got two runs in the inning, but they never got the game tied, and the Cubs escaped with a win.

But one way we can calculate it is WPA. Generally WPA focuses on batters and pitchers, but in this particular case, we need to only look at two possible outcomes to figure out what the play was worth. When Fielder came to the plate, the Brewers had a four-run deficit, the bases loaded, and no outs in the bottom of the fifth. They had a 28.7% chance of winning the game at that point.

After the play, even though a run scored, they gave up the out and the odds were good that they wouldn’t have a big inning. With men on first and third and one out in the bottom of the fifth, down by three, their odds of winning were 25.4%, per Fangraphs. Had that been a grand slam, though, it would have been a tie game, bottom of the fifth, no outs. That’s a 56.6% probability of winning for the home team.

In other words, Reed effectively robbed Fielder of .312 WPA on that one play. That’s almost three times more valuable than the most valuable offensive play of the game, Koyie Hill’s walk to drive in the go-ahead run in the fourth.

And a housekeeping note: no preview for the Rockies series. I plan on doing similar ones to the one I did for the Brewers series, but there are very few plate appearances for most of the hitters on either team against the others’ pitchers, so it wouldn’t be very interesting.

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