Edmonds Redefining Centerfield for Cubs
About a month or so back, a discussion arose in the comments about the Cubs futility at the center field position. Faithful reader "WISCGRAD" took it upon himself to take a look at the situation.
After hitting just .178 with one homerun in 90 at-bats to start the season, the 38-year old Jim Edmonds was released by the Padres on May 9th. He was signed just five days later by Jim Hendry and the Cubs and started the following day against his former team, going 1-4 in 4-0 win. In 100 at-bats since in Cubbie Blue, Edmonds sports a .290 batting average, .374 on-base percentage, and a .580 slugging percentage, having already blasted six doubles, a triple, and seven home runs. His on-base + slugging percentage is a robust .954, which would place him seventh in the National League (just ahead of Matt Holliday) if only his Chicago stats were counted and he had enough at-bats to qualify. (Ed Note: Numbers were for games played before Tuesday, July 1st)
Edmonds’ performance has been a pleasant surprise in the first half of the season, and is most certainly an upgrade offensively over the Felix Pie-Johnson combination that began the season. But how does Edmonds stack up to the production the Cubs normally get from the centerfield position? I decided to find out.
Baseball Reference records the number of games played at each position for each player on every team. A primary player is designated for each position, which is normally the player who has played the most games at that position during the season. In rare cases it may be the player with the second most if the player with the most played more games (and the most on the team) at another position. Below is a list of the primary centerfielders for the Chicago Cubs for each season from 1956-2007 (prior to 1956 the LF-CF-RF designation was not made). The statistics – batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and on base plus slugging – are for the entire season, not just those games played in centerfield. Many fans have lamented the lack of a true centerfielder in a great while for the Cubs. The findings below are striking.
Leon Durham’s amazing 1982 season, in which he split time between right and center (71 games started at each), stands out as by far the best season put up by a centerfielder for the Cubs. In all four statistical categories this represents the best performance in a half-century. Remarkably, it also represents the ONLY season in which a centerfielder had a BA over .300. The best overall stretch was Rick Monday’s reign from 1972-1976. He owns four of the top seven on-base-percentages on the list. Monday is also one of only three players, along with Durham and Corey Patterson (2003 short season), to slug over .500. In only ten seasons has the centerfielder achieved an OPS over .800 – Durham, Monday (four times), Patterson, Adolfo Phillips (twice), Mel Hall, and Bobby Thomson.
On the other side of the spectrum, Cleo James (1970), Corey Patterson (2005), Gary Mathews Jr. (2001), and Jerome Walton (1991) all hit below .220 for the season. Patterson’s OBP of .254 in 2005 also brings up the rear, in fact a full .14 below the second lowest. Doug Dascenzo, better known for his defense than his hitting, slugged just .311 in 1992. Bob Dernier holds two of the four worst slugging seasons, with .316 and .312 marks in 1985 and 1986. Dernier’s 1986 season is perhaps the worst overall, having the lowest OPS at only .587. Although Patterson’s 2005 season (.602), Walton’s 1991 season (.605), and Dascenzo’s 1992 season (.615) have to also be mentioned as being particularly terrible.
Edmonds current line would place him seventh in BA, fourth in OBP, first in SLG (by a wide margin), and first in OPS (by a wide margin). He may not keep up this pace for the remainder of the season – he is after all 38 and banged-up physically – but it is time to recognize that this type of production is quite uncharacteristic for a Cubs centerfielder.
|2001||Gary Mathews Jr.||217||320||364||684|
Eloy Jimenez and Jeimer Candelario named to Futures Game...
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Now pitching for the Cincinnati Reds:
Sorry if I made it sound like a Schwarber for Sale straight up deal was reasonable, obviously Cubs would need to give up more than that. You don't trade Sale unless you're rebuilding and if you're rebuilding you want more than one piece. Easily 3-4 pieces with Schwarber being the main one...but that type of an ace arm or All-star talent with a few years of control is the type of return the Cubs should look for if they move Schwarber. I don't think they'll move him until he's healthy though. TheJedi are pretty good at maximizing trade value.
I think you're very much overvaluing Schwarber if you think he can fetch Sale by himself. An unproven rookie with demonstrable offensive flaws he hasn't had the chance to show he can overcome and with no defensive upside will never fetch an ace of the quality of Sale in today's market where pitchers are fetching insane prices, especially with Sale's team friendly contract. You'd for sure need to throw in a pitching prospect in return at least.
best relievers in baseball tend to not be the best relievers for very long though...
also, when you start just trading away guys for marginal benefits, that window will shrink. The window is easily through 2021, just have to look how long Rizzo is signed for and how long they have rights to Bryant, Russell and so on down the line.
Can't say I'm too worried about the SP, they've done nothing but land guys on the cheap and on the expensive since they've arrived. TheJedi will figure that out.
Not sure I agree with this logic. The Cubs are one of the best teams in baseball, they have spent heavily on the team over the past couple of seasons, have more hitting prospects than they have places for them to play (and more on the way), a clear weakness in the bullpen, and have a 1.5 year window with Arrieta (to say nothing of the likely declines of Lester and Lackey).
Unless you think (maybe even if you do think) Schwarber is the next coming of Babe Ruth, I would certainly consider trading him if it brought back a couple of the best relief pitchers in baseball.
Miggy was going to sit anyway with Lester starting.
In related news, do any of the Cubs pitchers want to throw to Contreras?
Only Russell and Miggy failed to reach base yesterday. Both sit today.
Trading Schwarber actually makes a lot of sense because his actual position is currently being taken by Anthony Rizzo, unless they vote in the DH this offseason.
Trading him for a reliever is never going to happen though. I don't think you can trade Schwarber unless you get a CF'er for a few years (presume Fowler finds his multi-year deal next offseson) or a couple of high end young starters...or an established starter...a good one like Chris Sale.
I don't see what the Yanks have that the Cubs need.
peter gammons on MLB network pushing the yanks/schwarber angle...says insiders from the yanks say brian cashman highly covets him.
unless that conversation starts with a.miller (2/18m left on contract) i dunno how you even start that conversation given the "not trash, but no stars" state of the yanks minor league system.
they got corner OF'r aaron judge, C gary sanchez, RHP james kaprielian's questionable elbow, RHP domingo acevedo...all interesting, none expected to impact the game like schwarber's power potential.
Zo, Heyward, KB, Riz, Contreras (LF), Baez (SS), Szczur (CF), Ross, Lester
damn. low sample size blah blah whatever, but that slash got sneaky good. 10 hits, 4 walks, 2hr, 1 double through 39 PA...nice
Buddy Ryan takes his place alongside George Allen as the great Bear head coaches who never were.
Well, at least he can still hit: Jake slashing .294/.368/.868. Forget hitting 8th -- he should hit 6th.
Curious to see today's lineup vs. a LHP: Ross needs to catch Lester, Joe likes Javy at 3B when Lester pitches. Heyward with back-to-back good games at the plate, and is actually hitting a little better against LHP (.247/.341) than RHP (.232/.321), although neither is much to write home about. But, tomorrow is an early day game, so some regulars will probably sit either today or tomorrow.
Maybe Willson in LF, KB in RF and Almora in CF? If so, Albert Jr., assume every ball is yours.