The Cubs 2008 MVP

The Cubs get to enjoy their off-day with a nice come from behind win yesterday and a 5-1 road trip that puts them on the right side of the .500 mark away from Wrigley. They'll play 16 straight starting tomorrow, 13 of those coming at home and the three road games at Pittsburgh. It seems like a great time to increase their lead in the Central, but the Brewers have a pretty easy go of it as well. The schedules through September 4th (three game series unless otherwise noted):

Cubs (16 with 13 at Home): vs. Reds, vs. Nats, @ Pirates, vs Phillies (for 4 games), vs Astros
Brewers (14 with 9 at Home): vs. Astros, vs. Pirates,  @ St. Louis (2 games), @ Pitt, vs. Mets
Cardinals  (13 with 7 at Home): vs. Pirates(2 games), vs Braves, vs. Brewers (2 games), @ Astros, @ Diamondbacks

So that's looking forward, but what about taking a look back at the 2008 season. Peter Gammons on Friday brought up Geovany Soto's name as an National League MVP candidate and it got me thinking about who is the Cubs 2008 MVP.

Your candidates after the jump... 

Geovany Soto - 2nd among NL catchers in OPS and Win Shares behind Brian McCann...gets mad props from his pitchers for his defense and handling of the staff..4th in the NL in CS%(.293).  Using the Baseball Reference Play Index, I did a search for catchers 25 or younger with an OPS+ of 115 or greater with at least 450 PA's.  Soto's current 122 OPS+ ranks in there with the likes of Ted Simmons, Thurman Munson and Gary Carter.

Mark DeRosa -  Leads the team in runs scored (79) and is third in OBP among those who qualify. Among the regulars, he leads the team in batting average with runners in scoring position as well. Hs defensive versatility should not be overlooked.

Aramis Ramirez - Among the Cubs hitters that qualify, he leads them in OPS(.895) and Slugging Percentage(.508). He also leads the team in RBI's, doubles and Runs Created. 2nd on the team in Win Shares.

Alfonso Soriano - For a guy who missed a chunk of time, he still leads the team in home runs with 22. If he qualified, he'd be second on the team in OPS with .901 behind someone else that doesn't qualify - Jim Edmonds. The team is 49-20 when he has played.

Jim Edmonds - Mea culpa. Would lead the team in OPS (.969) and SLG(.594) if he had enough plate appearances. I don't care to talk about his continued showboating on defense.

Ryan Theriot - Leads the team in batting average(.316) ,OBP(.396) and steals (18)...also in caught stealing with 13.

Carlos Zambrano - Leads the team with 17 Win Shares. Has a .929 OPS and has hit .433 with runners on and .478 with runners in scoring position. He pitches too. 12-5 with a 3.38 ERA and second in VORP (38.3) to Ryan Dempster.

Ryan Dempster - Leads the team in ERA(2.92), wins(14), innings pitched (163.1), strikeouts (149) and - holy shit - WHIP(1.16). 

A lot of deserving candidates, but let's turn to one more number to try and help their cases.

A quick look at the WARP-1 totals from Baseball Prospectus of our regulars and top two pitchers. WARP-1 (Wins Above Replacement Player) tries to factor in defense and position scarcity.

Player WARP-1 
DeRosa  6.0 
Dempster 5.8 
Soto  5.7 
Zambrano  5.5 
Ramirez  5.4 
Lee  4.5 
Soriano 4.0 
Theriot  3.8 
Fukudome  3.7 
Edmonds  2.9 

Well, who would have thunk that Mark DeRosa would lead the team? And I have to admit that at first I didn't even include him in the short list. I'm not exactly sure how he's doing that, but his ratings by BP defensive numbers are all well above average for all the positions he's played. Where 100 is average, DeRosa is 112 at 2b, 110 at LF, 127 at RF and 110 at 3b. And while hitting with runners in scoring position is not necessarily a skill that can be repeated - it's something that usually migrates around the players normal hitting levels - it is an extremely important stat when evaluating a season or a team's success. And players certainly can have career years in that area. DeRosa's hitting .333 with runners in scoring position with a .927 OPS as I mentioned.  Although that pales to Soriano's 1.041 OPS with RISP, and trails Ramirez at .972 and Edmonds at .937, it's good enough to put him tied for second in RBI's on the team and he has the advantage of playing most of his games at second base, where it's still harder to find a bat. If you look at the league averages for players at each position, second base in the NL has the third lowest OPS (.741) to catcher (.717) and shortstop (.725). Of course, that's a pretty good argument for Geovany Soto being the Cubs MVP, now isn't it?

Before I looked at the WARP-1 numbers, I would have chosen Soto just ahead of Soriano and that's based mostly on playing time. I think Soriano's impact when he's been in the lineup has been tremendous. That not only shows in the team's 49-20 record when he plays, but in his own individual numbers where he is raking the ball this season. We'll see how the season bears out, but it'll be interesting debate as the season draws to its conclusion.

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Comments

For me it's Soto, but I tend to think of the MVP award 'The biggest difference between this years team and last year' which takes guys like Lee, Ramirez and Soriano out of the equation. DeRosa is my runner up. I have him on my 3 fantasy teams that allow NL players, and he's a godsend.

There's something screwy with how BP figures in replacement level batting for pitchers, which probabably whack's Dempster's WARP1... let me look it up. He's at 4 runs below replacement, yet he leads the leauge in sacrifices and his OPS (.400) is .067 ahead of the MLB average. So give him a conservative extra .6 of a win and he should be atop of the WARP1 list.

Edit - did that wrong.

Very hard call and very illuminating as to why the Cubs are doing so well so far.

If you use the "where would they be without him?" criteria, you could make a good case for almost every one on the list, and the list doesn't even include Marmol, Wood or DLee. Or Samardzija (OK, OK -- just practicing my spelling).

Not fair, but Z, Rammy, Sori, The Riot and Dero have basically done what was expected of them. Edmonds is a platoon player (although a very helpful one). Soto was a bit of a question mark, particularly after a lousy spring training, but had a good 2007.

To me, Dempster is the MVP. Starting pitching could have killed this team, particularly with Rich Hill's demise. He has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers in the league, has taken some pressure off of CZ, Lilly and the bullpen, and has exceeded everyone's wildest expectations.

Plus, he seems like a terrific and hilarious guy, and gets my vote just for his bowling get-up at Woody's event.

not sure you can say you're getting what you expected from DeRosa or Theriot. DeRosa's OPS+ is the highest of his career and only the second time his OPS has been above .800 in his career. The first being when he played at the very friendly Ballpark in Arlington (although not as friendly to righties as lefties).  

the only thing derosa is doing "differently" is hitting more homers and less doubles while taking a few more walks...not like its some huge or shocking change in his game.

don't think it's surprising to see him do it, anyway. he's not a kid, but this is pretty much only his 3rd "full-time" season. he's not the same hitter he was 4-5 years ago, that's for sure.

Point taken.

But, broadly -- Theriot has been a very good on-base guy with little/no power and a mediocre SB record. Nothing really surprising, although his BA is a bit higher than expected. DeRosa has been very solid in all aspects of the game, and has been a better version of his valuable and versatile 2007 self, but is not hitting over .300 or on pace to whack 25 HR (primitive stats, I know...)

Dempster's performance has been miles beyond what anyone could have predicted for him, and he saved the team from Hill's collapse, Z's time on the DL and Lilly's slow start. Again -- not the best way to pick, because expectations shouldn't factor in to MVP performance, but, without Dempster, this season could have looked very different.

I object to Dero as MVP. Most valuable player is someone like Ramirez, Dempster, or *gasp* Jim Edmonds. I'm not dogging Dero, he's solid and quietly become a core piece of this team. I just wouldn't call him the "most valuable".

Edmonds in Triple Crown Stats:
.267 15 42

DeRosa
.278 14 71

It's not even close.

Edmonds' numbers are based on 178 Cub ABs. DeRosa's are based on 395 ABs. So Edmonds put up those HR & RBI totals in less than half the ABs as DeRosa. You're right -- it's not even close.

DeRosa's offensive stats are solid enough, but what really makes his contributions significant is his ability to play at any base or corner outfield spot. He's been invaluable not only as an everyday 2B, but also as a utility option for Piniella.

His sense of humor has been pretty contagious, too. :-)

The really cool thing about this year's club is that it's not being carried by one or two clear MVPs. Everyone is stepping up and contributing -- it's a whole team effort, and that bodes well.

Seriously Neal? You know better than that.

Well, the point was if you're going to be so stupid as to say someone with 178 AB's is more valuable than a guy who has been playing well all season, you probably are stupid enough to judge players solely using the Triple Crown stats.

I will try to be less subtle in the future.

A little more Edmonds bashing.
Defense. On the season he is ranked 12th in CF fielding percentage among guys who have played 80 games, 5th in range factor and 11th in zone rating. BP has him at 1 run above average for the Cubs and 2 on the season. No site has him with any assists.

I agree with you on Edmonds' defense. I find it to be very overrated.

I also agree that it is difficult to give an "mvp" to someone with less than 200 at-bats and who has to be platooned.

With that said, it is also difficult to minimize the impact that Edmonds has had on this team.

If I could, I would think about giving the mvp to the Edmonds/Johnson combination.

Well then you get to throw in The Fontenaught at 2nd or Hank at catcher.

Cubs Rank in OPS by position
Catcher 1st .866
First Base 5th .843
Second Base 3rd .842
Third Base 2nd .907
Shorstop 5th .756
Left Field 7th .858
Center Field 1st .871
Right Field 10th .746

.866 is obscene for catcher. 2nd place is .828

Center Field was the one big question mark, the perpetual glaring hole in the lineup that the Cubs had this spring, so I vote for Felix Pie MVP.

Thanks to his abject failure, and only because of it, the Cubs wound up with a platoon in center field that leads the National League in RBI (87), OPS (.870) and the Major Leagues in OBP (.373). Our CF's have batted .292 and knocked 19 HR. If Pie had shown anything at the plate, if he'd hit .260 .320 .650 he might still be out there, EPatting around.

But no, he failed utterly and miserably and in an act of
desperation Hendry turned to Jim Edmonds and Reed Johnson.

The rest is history.

Thankyou Cubs MVP, Felix Pie.

jeff kent loves everyone:

"It's so pathetic," he said. "You guys write about things happening in a week's time. That's why we don't like you. Baseball is a six-month game."

"What did I hit last year? Without Manny? How do you explain that? What's my career average? What will I be hitting at the end of this season?"

along with also telling the reporter vin scully "talks too much" it was another reminder of why jeff kent has about a dozen total friends on the planet and none are people he works with. =p

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-simers17-2008a...

http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sports/bas...

Trib trying to force owners to borrow a ton to lower their tax implications. MLB and prospective owners not happy.

Prospective buyers have to figure out not only how much to bid but also how much of the price can be shielded from taxes. Tribune faces enormous tax exposure from an outright sale of the team because it bought the Cubs in 1981 for $20.5 million.

If the historic franchise fetches about $1 billion, as some believe, Tribune could owe up to $400 million in taxes, said Robert Willens, a leading New York tax analyst. That's a tax bill Sam Zell, Tribune's chairman and chief executive, would like to avoid in an effort to continue making debt payments from the $8.2 billion leveraged buyout of Tribune he led in December.

http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sports/bas...

Cuban the front-runner, John Henry backing him as well.

yeah, henry threw a VERY glowing support to him couple weeks ago.

it was well above and beyond a simple "sure, i'd like to work with this guy."

granted, they only "work together" a few times a year, but they got their boys club fully intact.

be interesting to see what mr. r. in wsox land has to say and when he'll say it.

Its just so great that this is such a difficult decision this year.

I agonized over that vote, but ultimately picked Soto. Glad to see I'm in the majority.

It's remarkable that the decision is so difficult. What a team!

----

EDIT: Dempster gets honorable mention here. He's been outstanding, but I find it difficult to name him MVP because he only plays every fifth day. Soto's been able to make a difference with all of the pitchers, and he's been very good with both the bat and glove. So he gets all around honors, but not by a huge margin. There are lots of good reasons to vote for all of these guys.

1 vote for Edmonds...I'm guessing Chad.

and I'm wrong

Tough call between Soto and Demp, but I chose the Canuck because of his revelation as an ace of the staff. A minor aside: Soto's also prone to golden sombreros, one of my pet peeves.

Nope, it was me... i couldn't decide from the rest... but Edmonds has been 100 X's better than i ever expected. His D alone has saved us a couple games and i can think of a couple games his bat has carried us too...

He was the Cubs 10th round pick this year and didn't sign, choosing to return to Texas A&M.

http://baylor.scout.com/a.z?s=44&p=2&c=780558

While Wilson sat out the entire 2008 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t throw a pitch for the Aggies in the 2008 campaign, his return as the potential No. 1 Friday night starter could spell the difference between Texas A&M being one of several contenders for the Big 12 Championship in 2009 and the favorites to repeat and contend for a spot in Omaha. Again, the Aggies received good news and look poised for a strong run in 2009.

“Yeah, I’m coming back to Texas A&M,” Wilson confirmed. “The Cubs submitted an offer about two weeks ago and I turned it down pretty quickly. With a good season I think I can be a high profile prospect next year, and their offer wasn’t very close. I never heard from them after that.”

Hitting 97-98 mph on the gun this summer and should be the Aggies #1 starter.

As goes Soriano so goes the Cubs. Same for this year and last. Aren't we like 18 - 6 since he's come off the DL or something like that?

Anyway, who up for parachatting during the stros/screwers?

I'm also on hand in parachat to balance out Master Shake's anger.

With Soriano: 51-24
Since return from DL: 18-6, .312/.356/.587
Without Soriano: 25-24

http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/gl.cgi?share=...

I wouldn't say it's necessarily case closed, but those are some pretty good bullet points in his favor. Personally, I've always been a big fan of the super-utility guys like DeRosa, but I also have a perfectly healthy man-crush on Big Zed. And then there's Dempster. It's a good thing I'm not the decider.

Interesting Chad thinks that people who don't play every day (i.e. staring pitchers) should not be MVP's, but a starting player who has missed roughly 40% of the season should be.

Chad, that makes no sense.

The Cubs are 42-7 when Kerry Wood pitches, therefor he's the MVP. Or maybe you go with Marmol, 48 - 15.

At the beginning of the year, I was by far the most worried about our pitching. I thought going into the year we had way too many questions. While I was confident with Z at #1, I was not confident at all with Lily at #2. After that, a whole bunch of question marks. Could a mediocre closer really become an effective starter? Could Hill really break through? Could Lieber regain his yesteryear?
Could Marquis not suck? I thought the offense would be slightly improved, but the pitching I actually thought would be worse off than last year. I saw the Cubs winning the Central by default, and getting knocked out again by a great pitching staff in the first round.

Dempster's incredible year solidified the entire pitching staff, where as the rest of the starter's could fit more where they belonged. Lily is a mediocre #2, but good #3 (and now a great #4). Marquis would have been an awful #3 post Hill, become an acceptable #4. If Dempster does not have his monster season, the Cubs would not be in 1st place. I think he is the biggest piece of the puzzle.

as a wildcard, I'd add Marmol to the mix. His dominance in the first 3rd of the year, gave the Cubs huge confidence going into late innings. Despite sucking for a few games in costly situations, he is again on a 15 inning scoring streak. Marmol is the reason Wood looks so good in the closer role in my opinion.

My MVP Ranking:
1. Dempster
2. Soriano
3. Soto
4. Marmol
5. Ramirez
6. Edmonds/Johnson
7. Theriot
8. Zambrano
9. Lee

Any way, the reason that the Cubs are #1 isn't because of the top player...it's because Zambrano is 8th and Lee is 9th. This is an extremely deep team of good to great players, without any one dominating MVP/Cy Young player.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/jon_...

According to one executive from another team, a Cubs person, speaking of the heralded outfield prospect Felix Pie, once told him that they "wouldn't trade [Pie] for Joe DiMaggio.''

nothing like the anonymous executive from another team quote...

Anonymous executive = Jim Hendry

Smart move. Joe is dead.

hahah

Even better, the anonymous executive is quoting another anonymous "Cubs person," which really could mean any of us.

The Soriano numbers from above that are most striking to me are the games over .500. The Cubs are 29 games over with him in the lineup (49-20) which means they are one game under without (27-28).

When he's (a) in the lineup and (b) hot, he is just a devastating offensive player.

# Re: The Cubs 2008 MVP
Submitted by Chad on Mon, 08/18/2008 - 3:53pm.
As goes Soriano so goes the Cubs. Same for this year and last. Aren't we like 18 - 6 since he's come off the DL or something like that?

I certainly would feel more comfortable if they could win consistently without him. He went 2-14 with no XBH and one walk, no steals, no runs scored and no RBI against the D-Backs in the playoffs last year. In 41 career postseason games (160 ABs) his line is .225/.279/.319. In a playoff series, opponents with good, deep pitching could really focus on taking him out of the game.

The 2007 team MVP?

Felix Pie, the Cubs were 58-29 in games he played in and 22-14 in his starts.

The Cubs were 73-62 in Soriano games in 2007.

Remember our recent conversation about Rammy's improved defense? Rosenhack is giving Dusty credit for that. I kid you not:

http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/rose...

reading is for losers so I'm not gonna click on your link but if I recall it correctly, in 2003 Ramirez was a trainwreck and Dusty said something to the effect of we'll fix it in spring training. It seemed to work. Of course, most of that fixing was thanks to Ron Santo, but whatever...

 

For the record-It was Special Assistant Sonny Jackson who worked with Aram on his defense.

Does anybody else fear Maddux is going to 2-hit the Cubs in the playoffs at Wrigley?

He came close in Game 3 in 2003, but we still won.

The Cubs are better with Soriano than without him. Gee whiz, he makes $18 million a year. If he wasn't a Cub, that money would've been spent on someone (or someones) else to make the team better.

I guess as long as he has a guaranteed contract for the next four Congressional elections, it'd be nice if he was healthy.

Hey, yeah --- maybe they could have gotten Andru Jones. Or Barry Zito. Everyone knows that big contracts guarantee good performances. Just ask Isiah Thomas.

I'm far more impressed by a roster of efficiently used resources than a bunch of hit-and-miss big contracts. Also, I got no problem paying $18 mil a year for a particular dude if he puts up All-Star numbers, which Soriano has when healthy.

But let's not pretend this potential team MVP is doing anything he wasn't brought here to do. Anything less and he'd be the team goat, not the MVP. He's also been hurt twice - once definitely not his fault, the other one more debatable.

Ned Yost:

Lets Sabathia go 9 for 130 pitches in a 9 - 3 ballgame.

a. that just shows how little faith he has in his pen
b. Sabathia may be a horse and may not get hurt. But fatigue can take over and hurt his effectiveness down the stretch.

Stupid stupid stupid manager

Maybe it was a calculated move to ensure that CC wasn't the first one to hit the post game buffet? ;)

Seriously, hope the Brewer faithful roast Yost over that.

It's not stupid unless Sabathia's arm falls off (we can only hope). CC's not coming back next year so why not let him pitch complete games and leave your relievers in the pen where they can't do any harm?

If that's what they're thinking, then more power to them; but something feels wrong about letting a FA pitcher walk into the market while being possible damaged goods.

I'm just saying that you don't want CC to be fatigued in late september and october. It was just stupid managing and useless innings.

Not to mention the Assholes loaded the bases in the 9th inning.

The CC Sweepstakes will be interesting to watch this off-season.

Amazing talent, but the weight and the innings may give some GMs pause. I assume only the huge payroll teams will be involved -- Yanks, Mets, Red Sox, Angels, maybe Dodgers?

See Bartolo Colon

I heard on the Mike and Mike today that Yost's rationale about CC and last night's game is that CC gets an extra day's rest before his next start and an extra two days' rest before the one after that.

Still dumb.

The catcher postion was a black hole on both sides of the field. He has flipped the offensive production at C from one the worst in the NL last year to the best this year. Also after years of bad defense at the postion, he has been one of the best C in the NL at preventing passed balls/wild pitches and he has proven decent enough at throwing guys out that running on us isnt a guarnteed base as it was with Barrett and Kendall.

if has to go on the DL, I think the PR department at Wrigley can start to order the Division champ T-shirts and not have to worry about donating them to charity.

GeoSoto!

here's the link to the Milw Sentinel non-news of Braun leaving the game last night in the 6th...

http://blogs.jsonline.com/brewers/archive/2008/08/...

With all the talk about Soto possibly being the Cubs MVP. I thought it was time to thank Hendry and his staff for their decision to put him on the 40 man a few years ago. I think, but I could be wrong, that it was at the expense of Andy Sisco. In any event I do remember that when they put him on the 40 man rather than expose him to Rule 5 draft, we were all wondering why they would give him a 40 man spot. He hadn't really shown much to deserve the spot. His reputation was good defense, no hit. Thank you Jim and company. They recognized his talent and possible potential.

Geo gets my vote although Dempster definitely saved our bacon this year. I will also give a small nod to Fukudome for setting the example of patience at the plate that seemed to rub off on some players. It's been a joy to see these guys coax a walk when in the past (actually all the time), Cubs hitters would "swing at ball four," as Harry used to say.
Now if we could only get Derrek Lee to stop his HIDP antics...

I really have to go with Michael Barrett, if only because he is no longer on the team murdering the middle.

Truly amazing that the Cubs are having such a good run, given that Kosuke is hitting .163 in August and DLee is in another of his power slumps -- only two doubles and and four RBI (no homers) in 14 August games. These guys were driving the offense in April.

If they start to hit again......oh, baby.

Greetings from Cali, home of nice guys, degenerates, and evil overlords. Vacationing with the family for another week plus. Up in No. Cal right now. Funny how there's not much Giant love these days. Even when they sucked in the Barry days there was a lot more love flowing. Well there's still my mom. She's relentless with her taunts that Lincecum is the Cy Young winner hands down this year and Dempster doesn't have a chance. She's brutal (in a loving, motherly, have some home cooking kind of way).

Message to Trans: See! It's not hard to check in while you're doing other things. Where's the love you big-headed doof? Enough with the John Hill impression. We either get a recap soon or we'll post your sister's IM address with an invitation to send her pictures of our best bowl scrapers.

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