Statistical Analysis

NL Central Smackdown : Center Field

Catchers | Poll
Third Basemen | Poll
Shortstops | Poll
2nd Basemen | Poll
1st Basemen | Poll

I'm jumping to center field because it's a bit of a mess and not nearly as interesting as left or right, which I'd like to save at least one of those for Monday.

NL Central Smackdown : Catchers

Third Basemen | Poll
Shortstops | Poll
2nd Basemen | Poll
1st Basemen | Poll

Before we head to the outfield, we take on the field generals. A difficult position to evaluate with the numbers just because there's just no great way to numerically measure a catcher's defense, leadership and ability to work with his pitching staff...but we'll do our best. I did want to note, I'll keep going with these through the weekend just so we can finish this up by early next week. If you take the weekends off from TCR, be sure to check back Monday and vote on the polls you missed.

The backstops after the jump...

NL Central Smackdown: Third Basemen

Shortstops | Poll
2nd Basemen | Poll
1st Basemen | Poll

It may seem I've been a bit down on our Cubbies in the first three installments, but do not fret, the Cubs and Aramis Ramirez runaway with the third base honors.

The hot corner after the jump...

NL Central Smackdown: Shortstops

2nd Basemen | Poll
1st Basemen | Poll

We march on around the diamond. Today it's the double play partner of yesterday's vote. The Cubs so far have the 2nd best first basemen and second basemen in the division. Can Ryan Theriot keep the streak going? Answer - no!

Your scrap-tastic contenders after the jump....

UPDATE: Thanks to you wonderful readers, it was brought to my attention to check Tejada's projections since he revealed his true age. His WARP-3 three year projection is updated in the chart and went down from 4.13 to 3.2. I'd still rate him first though even though he now drops behind Hardy and Wilson in the WARP-3 projections.

NL Central Smackdown: 2nd Basemen

1st Basemen | Poll

I started off with the first basemen yesterday and I'll leave the poll up until I get through all the positions. If you need a primer on all this, be sure to check out that first post as well on the first basemen.

Today though we move to the second basemen. While Hendry tries to win by sheer numbers, it's about quality, not quantity. Your contestants after the jump....

NL Central Smackdown: 1st Basemen

I was going to try and get this up before the season started, but that clearly didn't happen for a variety of reasons. But that's no excuse to let the work go to waste. Basically I thought it would be fun to go through each position player in the division and the starting pitchers and see how we rank them. Who’s the best now? Who will be the best over the next 3 years? I'll be using Baseball Prospectus's WARP-3 numbers for the most part, which includes both offense and defense and most importantly for this exercise, projections for the next three years. Once we get through the eight positions and the starting pitchers, I'll finish it off with a Bill Simmons inspired (ripped off) trade value chart.

Here are the ground rules. We're trying to figure out who you'd rather have on your team. Do your best to take your Cubs bias out of the equation if possible (that shouldn't be hard for some of you). But we're also trying to figure out who has the best players on the their team right now, so I'm going to use the players projected to get the most playing time this year. Sure, Jay Bruce will eventually take over center field duties in Cincinnati, but who knows when. The chart after the jump includes their 3-year WARP-3 averages (2005-2007) and their projected 2008-2010 averages.The final column, appropriately labeled "Rob's Rankings", are simply how I ranked them before looking at any stats. For the most part I was pretty close to what the numbers bear out. I should also note that I did my rankings before the season started.

We'll start off with the toughest and most talented position, the first basemen. Your gladiators after the jump....

Recipe for a 7-1 Homestand

  • Outscore opponents 67-28 (41-9 over the last 4 games)
  • Score first in 6 of the 8 games (they won 5 of the 6 games they scored first in)
  • Out-homer your opponents 10-8
  • Hit 342/436/535 as a team
  • Walk 43 times, while only allowing 28 free passes yourself
  • Hit .389 with 21 RBI's with the bases loaded
  • Pitch to a tune of 3.25 ERA as a team
  • Hold opposing team to a 219/300/364 line
  • Bear down and hold the opposing team to 197/310/361 with men in scoring position
  • Strike out 56 batters in 72 IP (7.375 K/9)

The All-Time Greatest Surprise Cubs Killers

A few of you were unimpressed by my previous post by telling me that it should be expected that the top hitters in the game were also the top hitters versus the Cubs. A fair assessment...

So who were the most unexpected Cubs killers? In other words, who saved their best to drive some nails in the Cubs' coffins? Reader "big_lowitzki" did the research for us and provided me with the list.

The All-Time Greatest Cubs Killers

After Carlos Lee beat up the Cubbies again this weekend with a 5 for 12 series, a homer and couple of RBI's (pretty low-key for him), I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the all-time biggest Cubs killers. So thanks to some of the wonderful tools over at Baseball Musings, I looked at which players had the highest all-time OPS while facing the Cubs with at least 350 Plate Appearances. Their database only goes back to 1957 as well.

Cubs 2007 Pitch Tracking: Pictures Worth a Thousand Curves

One of the latest and most exciting developments in baseball research is the measurement and analysis of individual
pitches. For instance, the Pitch f/x system created by the
company Sportvision
tracks the in-flight movement of pitches from two different cameras,
thereby assessing a pitch's velocity, horizontal and vertical
movement. A bit less than 1/4th of all pitches from last year were so
assessed, and MLB has made the raw contents of that data available at this location. Better yet, there are several bloggers who, unlike me, have the
talent and dedication to transform that heaping mess of data into
meaningful findings. Most notable, Josh Kalk
has been developing player cards,
a la what's available at baseball-reference or fan graphs or baseball
cube, except with graphs incorporating this incredible new source of
information on pitch selection and pitch behavior. He also has
developed a remarkable application where you can select any
player and any pitch with just about any limiting parameter you could
want - say, Bob Howry fastballs to right-handed hitters on 0-2 counts with a velocity above 93 MPH that resulted in swinging strikes - and then view the results on a handy X/Y graph.

As if that's not enough, there's the more user friendly if less revolutionary pitch data commercially available at Baseball Info Solutions which is being applied by the talented folks at Fan Graphs.
Fan Graphs now offers data on individual players' pitch selections and
velocity, all thoroughly sortable. For instance, Tim Wakefield
and Chad Bradford feature the two slowest average fastballs in the
major at 74.2 and 78.6 MPH, respectively, while no one threw a changeup
with greater frequency last year than Matt Wise, at 54%

There's a gold mine of potential information available at our
fingertips, with The Baseball Analysts and The Hardball Times leading
the way in this sort of analysis. With far less sophistication than
what those guys can offer, let's see what it can tell us about the
Cubs' staff.


Recent comments

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  • I know it's my own personal dead horse to beat --but Bryant has been a lousy hitter when playing the OF this year. Given that it's his first playoff game, I really hope they keep him in his natural position and don't mess with his routine.

    Lousy as in 8-for-45 with one XBH and no HR. Small sample and all that -- but why take the chance?

  • hard to tell what's up given they'll probably want to stack as many good lefties into the lineup as possible.

    castro being a bit hot doesn't help things. if he was still cool they'd probably stick la stella at 2nd and call it a day.

  • Madden won't announce lineups but Stella is practicing at 3rd and Bryant in LF today. I'd rather see Bryant at 3rd but I guess Stella has been hotter than Coghlan.

    /edit. Though I guess they could be practicing this with the idea Stella would come in as a PH then double switch him to 3rd base and Bryant to LF. Hope that's the plan instead

  • I really like the sound of that idea about expanding the AFL to ten teams. Each org. gets to field more players.
    They should do that anyway, regardless of Adv. Instructs.

  • Dallas Beeler, Corey Black, David Garner, Pierce Johnson, Steve Perakslis, James Pugliese, Duane Underwood Jr, and Rob Zastryzny threw early-morning bullpen side-sessions at Riverview yesterday.  

    Underwood threw last, and received specific one-on-one instruction from pitching coach Mike Mason. 

  • HAGSAG: There are only five advanced instructs squads left, and presently the only "co-op" team operating is the Angels/Cubs.

    The league was originally established as a "parallel" league to the AFL (a sort of "junior AFL"), for players too advanced for traditional ("basic") instructs but who were unable to get placed on AFL rosters due to AFL player-limits.

  • He is but I would think it'd be better to start out with offense and then bring in Jackson and LaStella once they have a lead. Stella has very good PH #s too.

  • most likely cost sharing + the league is short on players anyway. not many teams are chipping in on 'advanced instructional.'

  • I'm glad this is a one game playoff coming up, because McCutchen is one of my favorite MLB players. And as a baseball fan, I rather like the Pirates. I hope we beat them bad, of course. No mixed feelings here. And, I don't want a nail biter. Too old for that shit. The team of moran fans is easy to hate, though, and more suitable for a longer series.

  • A Jurickson Profar sighting!!!!???

  • I'd guess Jackson over Coghlan for the defense.

    EDIT: Now that I think about it, is Jackson a better defender?

  • Less stress on the pitching staff?

  • I recall earlier this season when the Cubs played Bryant in center instead of left due to the weirdness that is the PNC outfield.

  • AZ Phil, what is the reason the Cubs are co-oping this team? They seem to have plenty of talent that would fill a roster.

  • RF is actually easier to play than LF in PNC so I'd guess Schwarber is there and that's why he was playing it Friday but yeah I'd say that's hopefully accurate.

  • Guess for Wednesday's lineup: Fowler (CF), Schwarber (LF), Bryant (3B), Rizzo (1B), Castro (2B), Montero (C), Russell (SS), Arrieta (P), Coughlan (RF)