Quantcast

[Ed. - The following is a post from resident genius DocPeterWimsey on the BN Message Board. Recently, we'd discussed the Cubs' underlying performance and whether it squared with their win-loss record. Doc dug into that discussion from another angle, and his mathematical excursions are always worth a read. The short version? This Cubs season has been pretty damn improbable, and, if it continued in this fashion, it would be *historically* improbable. All stats are as of May 24.]

We had some discussion on the main page about whether the Cubs are doing something really implausible by posting a 0.391 winning percentage. This follows from a couple of summaries of Cub peripheral statistics suggesting that they should be a 0.530 team or better.

Here is the important number: 0.027. That’s the Cubs’ “net” OPS: the offense has an OPS of 0.707 and the Cubs pitching + fielding has allowed an OPS of 0.680.

Let’s say that the Cubs ended the season with a net OPS of 0.027. How should they do? Below are the net OPS of all MLB teams from 1962 – 2012:

That’s 1338 teams, showing a very tight correlation between the OPS Garnered minus OPS Allowed and winning percentage. (Net OPS correlates tightly with runs scored / allowed, and run differential correlates tightly with winning, so this shouldn’t be a surprise.) Basically, for every 0.01 a team increases it’s Net OPS, you expect 2.14 wins.

So, that means that the Cubs should be on pace to win 87 of 162 games: and with luck, you can make the playoffs with 87 wins. However, the Cubs winning percentage of 0.391 would give them only 63 wins: a whopping 23 below expectations!

But, you say, OPS is only part of winning. (Or, you say, it’s a made-up stat because your Topps cards didn’t have it in 1972.) With a bit a bad managing, non-clutch hitting, pitching and fielding, and this can happen. All we need to do is compare the Cubs to other teams that missed by so much …

… except that there aren’t any. This shows the difference in actual and expected wins, with “actual” based on winning percentage x 162. (Sometimes teams play 161 or 163 games, so this standardizes for that.) Net OPS actually explains 80% of the variation in winning percentage, so we actually didn’t have much room for many teams on pace for 26 over/under expectations. Indeed, 50% of teams win within 3.5 games (one way or the other) of expectations. Only one team, the 1994 Padres, had a winning percentage so far off that they would lose 20 games: but because 1994 was the strike year, they were on pace to lose 20 more games than you’d expect given their net OPS. (I wish them many more, as I still hate them for defying odds in the other direction 10 years earlier.) So, the Padres had a record over 0.100 under expected after 117 games, not after 162 games: and had they regressed to their mean (0.500), then they would have come in at about 15 or 16 under.

The biggest “underachievers” over 162 games are the 1965 Red Sox, who managed 17 fewer wins than expected, and two other teams (1962 Mets and 1993 Mets) managed 15 fewer wins than expected.

Now, will the Cubs keep this up? Almost certainly not. Let’s just say that the Cubs keep playing +0.027 OPS ball. There have been 118 teams in the last 51 years that finished with net OPS between 0.022 and 0.032 (i.e., with 0.01 of the Cubs). Only 11 of these teams finished with records under 0.500. Three more finished at 0.500: which is where the Cubs will finish if they “regress” to the expecation for a +0.027 OPS team.

Of course, the other reason why this won’t happen is that if the Cubs aren’t a 0.500 team in July, then there is going to be a sell-off: and the remaining team won’t be a +0.027 OPS team (probably). As we don’t expect the Cubs to crawl back to 0.500 until the very end of the season, this seems assured!

However, when we start asking “why,” then we probably should exclude answers that would apply to whole teams over an entire season. For example, there have been a lot of really bad managers over the last 51 years: but nobody has managed their team to 23 wins under expectations. There is the “clutch” aspect: and, of course, as “clutch” over any stretch of games fails to predict “clutch” over the next stretch, this suggests that the bad luck (especially when it comes to slugging with men on base) can’t continue. (I mean, it can’t, can it?!?!?)

And, of course, we have to wonder if this isn’t a small blessing in disguise. Is this really a +0.027 team? Are Wood and Feldman really pitching as well as their OPS Permitted suggests? Is Valbuena going to keep hitting like this? An 86 or 87 win team is just tantalizing enough to “go for it”: but it’s probably not going to make it, especially in this year’s NL Central.

However, that’s food for another discussion.

  • Kyle

    *tips hat*

  • DarthHater

    Wow! This mathematically proves that Sveum is by far the worst manager in the history of baseball, right? :-P

    • mjhurdle

      obviously. I mean, he didn’t use Russell at all last night! The best relief pitcher in the pen and Sveum doesn’t even use him!!!
      If that doesn’t prove that Theo, Jed, and Sveum are all intentionally trying to throw games so that Ricketts can not spend money and just get richer, then i don’t know what does… :)

      • cub4life

        I don’t know if your serious or not and I’m not going to disagree with the possibility that Sveum is bad (seemingly really really bad) but in a blowout you need to keep the starter in (if he isn’t throwing to much) or use the bottom of your bullpen to give them work, save the best for the close games. And if you were just joking, my apologies in advanced.

        • Whiteflag

          Joke.

          • DarthHater

            Hey, you. I never joke. :-D

            • cub4life

              well Darth I have realized that you NEVER ever joke about ANYTHING……………………… :P

    • cooter

      I wonder if sweum knows you’re aloud to sac bunt for all those lead off doubles that get stranded

      • Cubbie Blues

        He realizes he’s allowed to, but then notices that he is worse off giving up a free out only to advance someone to 3rd. There are criticisms to be made for Sveum, but not bunting isn’t one.

        • cooter

          I completely disagree. There has been numerous times when the batter makes an out anyway and the next guy flies out which would have scored the runner on third.

          • Cubbie Blues

            Or, he understands statistical probabilities.

            • Chance Riley

              Statistically speaking for the Cubs this year the odds are equal in both situations. With no outs and a runner in scoring position, the Cubs are hitting .232. That’s 24 points lower than their overall average. But when we break it down, the numbers really show why we should be bunting. With a runner on 2nd and no outs, you usually need either one double or two singles to score the run. With a runner on 3rd and one out, assuming the sac bunt and ensuing play progresses as usual (which it does 75% of the time), the Cubs have a 28.7% chance of hitting a single within the two outs that they have left. A single in this situation will almost always score the run. With a runner on 2nd and no outs, the Cubs have a 26.52% chance of hitting an extra base hit and a 21.53% chance of hitting two singles in the three outs they have left. This leaves us with a xbh-1b adjusted 24.02% chance of the Cubs scoring a run this year with a runner on 2nd and no outs. With a runner on 3rd and 1 out, there is a 46.4% chance that the runner will score. The odds are clearly one sided in this situation this year for the Cubs. They may be completely different for any other team in baseball on any given day, but this year the Cubs need to bunt with a runner on 2nd and no outs.

              8.84% xbh w/risp
              14.35% single w/risp
              .232 w/risp

              • Chance Riley

                I typed the first sentence before revising my numbers.. so just ignore that I guess.

              • Chance Riley

                And in case you were wondering my numbers came from the Cubs stats with risp this year.

              • Kyle

                You are assuming that the Cubs’ percentages in small samples will be their percentages going forward, which is not a good assumption.

                • FFP

                  This is exactly where I’m stuck. Isn’t slugging% w/RISP always a small sample size? (or at least SSS within a given season as it develops?)

          • demz

            the idea is to make a productive out.

            generally a sac bunt is a guaranteed out. however, hitting to the right side of the infield also works to get the runner over AND has the possibility of actually being a hit.

            You just need guys up there that can make contact and, if they don’t see their pitch, will just walk.

            • DarthHater

              A productive out may be better than an unproductive out, but the difference in value between the two is far less than the difference in value between getting on base and making an out.

        • mjhurdle

          But did you also count the number of times that a batter misses the bunt twice to get into an 0-2 count where he then strikes out? Or when the bunt is not executed correctly and the runner doesn’t advance and the out is still made? Or when the defense gets the out at third and instead of 1 out runner on second you have 1 out runner on first?
          I can see maybe occasionally late in a close ballgame taking the bat out of hands of a hitter to get the possible winning/tying run to third, but I do not think that it makes sense as standard practice.

          • cooter

            all I’m talking about is a close game, which we mostly lose. Of course not any other time. Besides team spirit what the hell is the bunt tournament for.

            • Kyle

              It’s bad strategy in close games, too.

      • Dougy D

        Food for thought for those that don’t like the idea of bunting over the lead off double: Why in the 9th inning do so many managers try to bunt a lead-off single over to second? To increase the chances for him to get in scoring position and potentially increase the odds of scoring, right. Okay, so why don’t you move the guy to 3rd so that he is more likely to score on a ball put in play, whether it be a grounder or fly ball. Additionally, why do you have a bunt tournament in spring training if you aren’t going to have anyone bunt?

        These are just thoughts to think about. I personally think that your lineup following the lead-off man should dictate your decision in all circumstances. Also, if a pitcher can’t bunt, why not let him swing away rather than waste his at bat? Feldman and Wood both went yard last week, and didn’t SHark go yard once already this year?

        • Kyle

          Some managers, do, some don’t. It’s essentially a neutral play, it neither helps nor hurts you.

          You have the bunt tournament because spring training is long and stupid for hitters and they need something to break up the boredom and have some fun.

          • Dougy D

            I’d like to think the tournament is a clever way to improve bunting skills for players by making it fun (essentially what you said). My problem is that I don’t see bunting used much in Cubs games (I will fully admit that this season I do not have the ability to watch many games and listen to most on radio, so I get distracted doing other things while listening and likely miss some sacrifices). I think that the goal is to make players better and more versatile, but if you practice bunting twice a year in spring training and that’s it, you likely won’t be good at it or remain good at it. The talent on the team is very limited, and I think that some versatility and small ball would improve the team. It sure doesn’t help in many stat columns, but it could improve the number in the column that matters most, W’s.

            Of course I am a guy that loves baseball for the strategy and think that the National League should have never agreed to allowing DH’s in interleague games. Two of my favorite players to watch growing up: Otis Nixon and Brett Butler.

            • Kyle

              You can like to think whatever you want. The strategy you are imagining makes very little actual difference on the game, however.

              • Dougy D

                Please explain. Are you just thinking that with a better team, more wins will come; With the team we have now, we are limited to how we will do?

                • Kyle

                  The vast majority of baseball winning and losing is explained by two things: Getting more bases than your opponent and variance. Small strategies to maximize edges in small areas are fun to romanticize, but they don’t mean very much in terms of wins and losses.

                  • cooter

                    look at the giants Kyle

                    • Dougy D

                      Good point cooter. I think that you have to play to your team’s strengths and/or their surroundings. With that large ballpark and their great pitching, the Giants have gone out and gotten more complete players that are solid defensively and can play more ‘small ball’. Example: guys like Angel Pagan that are more likely to turn a double into a triple and can run down a fly ball. Who is our most flexible starting outfielder, DeJesus? He clearly shouldn’t be starting in center.

        • frank

          I heard once, that statistically if you have a runner on 1st and no outs, the chances of scoring are pretty much the same whether the runner is bunted to second or not–about 30%-40% in either case. Those more versed in statistics can tell me whether that’s right or wrong.

          • Edwin

            I’ve heard bunting a runner over increases the frequency of scoring, but lowers the overall run expectancy.

            • Kyle

              It depends on what variables you want to account for, but even the odds of scoring are pretty close to identical under any circumstances.

    • jay

      I can think of several games offhand where we would have won if Dale would have just kept his butt nailed to the bench and not gotten all Tony-LaRussa-ey with his bullpen.

  • Matt

    This reminds me of that scene in Major League when they’re arguing over the home run trajectory. “Too high!” Ultimately, their record is still the same, regardless of OPS correlations.

  • Timmy

    very interesting — but in the end one can abstract what happens until it no longer resembles the simple fact that the team isn’t executing. part of it is that the team simply is too young and not that good. part of it is low morale. the ‘what if’ here isn’t that we could have/should have won, but that the team isn’t giving it their all to win on multiple fronts.

    i still say leave Sveum alone for another year and a half or so. once he has something to work with we can judge him fairly.

    • Dougy D

      Well put Timmy. Timmy Timmy!

  • Jon

    Underperformance like this is usually a sign of a terrible bullpen

    • mak

      and bad defense

    • Kyle

      There’s very little correlation between the two.

    • http://Isa Voice of reason

      Underperformace like this is sign of a bad bullpen? That’s a new one for this message board.

      How about this team just stinks?

      I’ll say this team is actually OVERPERFORMING at this point!!

      Just wait till they trading pieces away!! This team is destined to lose 100 plus games again.

      Yet, it will be because of a bad bullpen.

      • Jon

        Actually, their starting pitching is probably top 1/3rd of baseball. So there are strengths to the team and weaknesses. They also have wholes on the offensive side , but statistically, when a team doesn’t perform to their pythagorean, bullpen is often a root cause

  • EQ76

    Baseball is as much mental as it is the stats being put up. I see the Reds, Pirates and Cards rosters and don’t (on paper) see any of them as being far beyond us in talent. There’s a reason other teams are winning no matter what they seem to throw on the field. The Cubs have perhaps the biggest mental mountain to climb as an organization. Saying there’s a new “Cubs way” is one thing, getting the organization to all be on board and confident is another.

    I agree whole-heartedly that this team should be better than they are.. but the mentality of losing seems to be overwhelmingly present still.

    • Norm

      You don’t see a talent gap between Joey Votto, Shin-Soo Choo, Aroldis Chapman, Brandon Phillips and what the Cubs can offer?

      • EQ76

        Joey Votto is clearly the best player in the Central, IMO., I’m not saying there’s not better players on other teams. I am saying that our roster stacks up better against the top 3 teams in the division better than the records reflect.

        Yes there are some notable reasons why we stink.. Marmol alone has probably cost us a few wins.. but it does seem that we should be better than our record.

        • JoeyCollins

          Well yeah that was the point of this entire article.

        • Cub Style

          I have no idea what you’re looking at.

  • scorecardpaul

    have we just been watching a team that wants a better draft pick next year?

  • Jan Forty-Two

    Great article, thank you for this one. This makes me wonder if something else than just bad luck explains this deviation from a well established and researched correlation. Could it be
    – bad managing in some sort like bad lineups, improper bullpen management etc
    – lack of team spirit
    – a unknown Cubs factor(???)
    – influence by the Ricketts family (?)
    – or something else?
    I am not suggesting that it has anything to do with any of these topics, it just really makes me wonder.

  • DarthHater

    Hey, Bert. Keith Law has a pay-per-view update of his top-25 prospects on espn.com. You planning to plagiarize it for us any time soon? :-P

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I will discuss it at some point, yes. :)

  • DarthHater

    Instead of asking why a team with such a good “net OPS” has such an improbably poor W-L record, perhaps we should be asking why a team with such a poor W-L record has such an improbably high “net OPS?”

    • Kyle

      We could, but we’ll get the same answer:

      Because they’ve had unsustainably poor sequencing.

      They’ve given up more runs than you would expect from the sum of their pitching performances because opponents have hit much better with men on base than without against the Cubs.

      They’ve scored a few fewer runs than you would expect, mostly because of remarkably poor hitting with multiple runners on base.

      And they are four wins behind where you’d expect a team with their run-scoring to be.

      • http://Isa Voice of reason

        Kyle,

        They have poor sequencing because they are a bad team.

        They’ve given up more runs than you would expect because they are a bad team.

        They’ve scored fewer runs because of bad hitting because they are a bad team.

        Don’t you get it? Excuse after excuse, however, I’m sure there is a Houston astrosmfan saying the same sort of things on the Houston Astros message board.

        They have the record they have because they are a bad team. There are a a majority of teams with better records because they are superior teams.

        • JB88

          That might be the most impressive, overly simplistic argument you have wielded today. Congrats.

          • http://Isa Voice of reason

            No, I’m responding to an over simplistic argument. I’m not making one.

            • DarthHater

              You’re absolutely right! You’re not making an argument at all. Chalk up one valid point…

            • JB88

              Not really, you are making an overly simplistic claim: “They have the record they have because they are a bad team. There are a a majority of teams with better records because they are superior teams.”

              If you want to eliminate luck, chance, and statistics, then, sure, we can all agree with you.

              But once you factor those things in, you see a team that has been tremendously unfortunate and whose record should be better than it is currently.

              • MichiganGoat

                ***GROWL*** Win=Good Loss=BAD

            • Cyranojoe

              Your problem is that you don’t understand the use of the term “expect” in this context. It’s being used from a statistical standpoint. Not that clarifying this to you helps matters, but….

          • DarthHater

            His “reasoning” is just way over everyone else’s head. Haven’t you been paying attention? :-P

            • MichiganGoat

              Wonder if there is a Good/Bad sabermetric we can create. It starts with Win=1, Loss=-1, score over 0=Good, Negative Score=Bad. SEE SIMPLE

        • Jon

          For a moniker of “Voice of Reason”, you are pretty unreasonable in your arguments.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s kind of what I said when discussing this issue the first time around. Unfortunately, I think the record is more reflective of the true talent level than is a majority of the individual metrics.

      • Kyle

        Completely disagree. There is much better than .400 talent on this team.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I didn’t say it was a .400 team – just that it being a .400 team is closer to the true talent level than a .510 team (or whatever).

          • Kyle

            .455 would be 74 wins over a full season.

            We’re better than that, imo.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Shrug. This is a 72 to 75 win team to me on true talent. I’ve thought the offense would struggle from day one … and it has.

              • Kyle

                Much closer to 78-80, maybe even a bit beyond, imo.

                The offense has a .708 OPS (.706 average) and is scoring 3.94 runs per game (4.04 league average). If we score eight runs tonight, we’re suddenly a dead-average offense by run-scoring.

                That’s not the offense of a 72-75 win team unless the pitching is unusually bad, which it isn’t.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  You keep talking about the underlying metrics. I’m talking about true talent level.

                  • Kyle

                    You did say “and it has.”

                    But we’ve had almost 2000 PAs. The metrics tell you what the true talent is by now.

                • randy jones

                  no way Kyle. They suck.. Sometimes all the numbers dont mean crap. They are bad.. Period.

      • Rebuilding

        A regression of OPS differential and Win differential would prob put us at about 75. 76 is where Fangraphs had us projected before the season and now they have us projected at 74. Most likely we’ll never find out as this team gets blown up in a month or so

      • Timmy

        This is right, it’s interesting how close the Cubs have been to a better record, but in the end the gravity of inexperience and lack of motivation will find new ways to lose. This is a deliberately hackneyed team put together while the Ricketts pay _themselves_ back for their own loan. Revenues are treated as profits. Half the team is discussed as trade bait on a daily basis and no one is invested in staying except for Castro and Rizzo. There are no good free agents this offseason except for the aging Cano, and it doesn’t matter because the ownership has announced that they don’t plan to invest in the team in the near future. By year 5 Epstein will have one of the lowest Win/Loss ratios in team history for a general manager. It’s pretty dire……..

  • jt

    The Cubs completed their 47th game on May 24. Marmol has been replaced as closer. Garza has replaced Villanueva in the rotation. Barney has replaced Lillybridge. Shark and Rizzo have matured a bit more And on and on and on. This has not been “a” team. Teams are dynamic. They change to conform to needs. They release, trade and dfa.
    A team that has a positive run differential but is still losing does not necessarily mean that it is a good team having bad luck. It could also mean that it is a team that only has to plug a few leaks to become a good team. In short, a losing team with good indicators will over less than 1/3 of a season will probably try to improve itself.
    The 2012 Cubs were 19W and 10L over a period from June 25 to July 30. They then traded some pitchers and went back down the tube. If you extend it out to Aug 15 then you can say they had a stretch of 44 continuous games in which they played 0.500 baseball. That is a comparable number of games that have been played in 2013. But The 2012 Cubs had indicators that were negative. They knew they didn’t have the depth to sustain the June 25 to July 30 period so they sold out for the future. Again, the team was dynamic, not static.
    This has been playing out for all teams for all years since even I was a child. A team can not sustain losing with such positive stats because any GM that would permit it to do so would be fired. Teams adjust by filling needs or having fire sales.
    Theo/Jed have started beating the OBP drum. Guys are starting to take walks. My (Theo/Jed)’s way or the highway.

  • http://Isa Voice of reason

    You can keep looking over all the stats you want, but it doesn’t matter.

    It’s a bad team. Probably the worst cub team ever.

    It’s like looking at stats before a junior high school team plays the Chicago bears. The stats are irrelevant just as they are with the junior high team.

    Just wait till they start trading away pieces between now and the deadline. This team will be worse.

    Looking at this roster they have overachieved. Thenstarting pitching has been better than they could have ever believed! That makes thhem overachieving at this point. Every other area is doing as expected…. The bullpen, the offense, the defense…. Bad, bad and bad.

    They aremdoing themright things and Theo andmcompany will turn it around and build a winner, but it will take patience.

    In the meantime, call this team what it is…. Very bad!

    And don’t analyze different stats to show howmthey should be better,etc. Otherwise, it’s no different than comparing that junior high football team with the bears.

    • MichiganGoat

      “You can keep looking over all the stats you want, but it doesn’t matter.”

      Well that explains everything about your comments, if only Theo and the rest of baseball could see your genius.

      • DarthHater

        I actually agree with his royal reason-ness that it is more accurate to view this Cubs team as a bad team that has overachieved than as a good team that has under-achieved. That was the point of my post above. Beyond that, however, the douchebaggery about it being the worst Cubs team ever is way over my head. :-P

        • Kyle

          It can be both. They’ve both overachieved with their underlying metrics and are much better than their record shows.

          • DarthHater

            You’re probably right, but this place has taught me to prefer simplistic sloganeering to the fist of logic. :-D

            • Kyle

              I prefer both.

              • DarthHater

                you da man.

    • JB88

      “It’s a bad team. Probably the worst cub team ever.”

      You are either very, very young or being very ironic. Either way, I stopped reading as soon as I saw this.

  • Rebuilding

    I see that Danny Duffy of the Royals threw his first rehab start in AA yesterday. He seems like just the kind of guy we try to acquire. DeJesus and ? (Maybe Russell although that would prob be an overpay) for Duffy and the comp pick?

  • Dustin S

    With some luck this team could maybe sneak up to the .425-.450 range, but even that is still sell-off category. Also, a person could do the same exercise with other individual stats like RISP instead of OPS that would show that they are right where they deserve to be as far as being a .390-.400 team. The Cubs got swept by the .388 Brewers, so a person could argue they must be worse than them. Have to be careful with theoretical stats.

    The thing is that to change the sell-off trajectory the Cubs would need to be a team like Baltimore, Oakland, Pittsburgh, or Arizona, that wasn’t really expected to do much this year but is playing in that .550-.600 range. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that was even a remote possibility this year unless the entire team had career years. Looking at the way the SP have (mostly) way overperformed and Schierholtz has played, if they were just having average seasons so far this team might be close to .300.

    • DarthHater

      Given the fact that we’re in the middle of a long-term rebuilding project and aren’t going to come close to competing for a post-season spot this year, I find the W-L record of the 2013 Chicago Cubs to be only marginally more interesting than the W-L record of the 2013 Iowa Cubs. The more significant things to look at are the individual performances of: (a) those players who might help the team compete in the future; and (b) those players who might provide some trade value. With regard to the latter factors, the picture is not so bleak as the W-L record suggests, though it still is far from rosy.

      • Kyle

        I find their record very interesting, because it should inform what we do in 2014. The whole “are we so hopeless that it’s not even worth bothering” vs. “Do we have a shot with some luck and savvy short-term moves” debate.

        • DarthHater

          I don’t disagree with the focus on 2014, but I still think the individual performances tell more about what to do in 2014 than does the 2013 W-L record. Stated differently, I think that, with some luck and savvy personnel moves, the Cubs could be significantly better in 2014, even if they lose 110 games in 2013.

  • JoeyCollins

    Great work Doc. I’m almost amazed at some of the comments in this thread. If ever there was a time to avoid the simple ‘they suck that’s why’ argument this was that time. Doc presented a very valid, well researched, argument to how unsustainable the Cubs performance is this year. Either the team OPS is over inflated, or their win loss is way worse than it should be. To ignore all the mathematical evidence Doc has provided, just to provide a simple answer with no thought behind it, adds nothing to the conversation, and wastes everyone’s time.

  • josh ruiter

    Has it ever been done before where a team played such a righty/lefty platoon as consistently as this team. Just curious… but looking very quickly the names at the top of the list of Cubs OPS include DeJesus, Schierholtz, Valbuena, Rizzo, and Sweeney. The names that would be familiar but at the bottom include Hairston, Sappelt, Lillibridge, Barney, Gonzalez. I left out Castro, Castillo, Soriano, and Borbon because they are in the middle of the pack. I could also take out Barney and Rizzo since they are everyday players…but lets get to the point. When you play a platoon lineup to gain an advantage, and your right handed hitters are all consistently at the bottom, that means you are losing many many games because of them, even if the leftty’s play more and bring up the average ops. in 514 AB’s against lefties the cubs have a .663 OPS and a .288OBP. in 1190 AB’s versus righties they have a .727OPS and a .306. A few things about those numbers. First…the platoons are not panning out as they might on paper, as the Cubs offense has been significantly worse against lefty pitching.
    That is not to say that platooning isn’t a good approach, it’s to say the right hand heavy lineup has been dismal at best. that is more a strike against the righties than sveum, though at this point, sveum hopefully has enough evidence to start playing lefties more consistently.
    The other thing to take from this is looking at the OBP which is 28th in the league against lefties and 24th for righties. I include that hear to mention the OPS is 27th against lefties and 16th against righties. So not only have the Cubs been horrid against lefties, they are slugging their way to mediocrity against righties, but still getting On Base at a near cellar rate. So even when they are slugging, there is nobody on base to reap the benefits. This all goes to say the use of the platoon produces lopsided and misleading stats when seen on the whole, and also OPS can be misleading when it is so lopsided to the slugging over the OBP.

  • Fastball

    Well you can provide all the charts in the world and you can say this team won’t continue to lose like this because the historical stats say I can’t happen. Well, watch this team play baseball for a week and you can throw all those stats out the window. This team cannot hit with runners on base. I don’t care what the stats say or it’s bad luck what the heck excuses we want to make. They don’t produce at the plate when it counts. Is there a metric for that? Just say this guy doesn’t ever, ever, ever get a damned hit when there is someone on base. This guy can’t bunt, This flipping strikes out with nobody out and a guy on 2b. Yadda Yadda… And yes those stats do tell the truth about our manager and just how bad he is. Of course, we are not going to fire him. Who in their right mind wants to run this team the way it’s set up right now. Who ya gonna hire anyway. The guys worth hiring are looking at this roster and saying to themselves ESPN , MLB or FOX before the Cubs manager job. All day… Who wants to go to work and deal with this kind of crap day in and day out. Sveum has a job because nobody wants his job. He is there to lose. This morning on MLB XM Memalo stated a fact. The reason the Dodgers and Angels got huge TV contracts is because they were going to sign stars that draw viewers. The Cubs don’t have any Stars right now. Rizzo and Castro and that’s it. Maybe Shark,

    The bullpen is the worst in baseball so that’s your biggest problem on the other side of the ball. Nobody who can hit with a men on base or in scoring position and no bullpen. The Cubs aren’t the commodity the were 3 years ago. TV knows and they aren’t going to shell out money because people on BN think Almora, Soler and Baez are taking us to the promised land. The big problem is there isn’t anybody worth signing in FA this coming off season. So we are pretty much screwed.

    • DarthHater

      [img]http://weknowmemes.com/generator/uploads/generated/g1369779746857983043.jpg[/img]

    • Die hard

      There has to be a 100 word limit — if cant say it in 100 words or less then not worth saying– this isn’t a treatise site

  • jt

    Do a simple spreadsheet exercise of never gunna happen “what if”.
    Trade 3B Todd Frazier (not the greatest 3B around) of The Reds to The Cubs for Barney. Move Valbuena to 2B and look at the potential line-ups without the automatic out.
    Sometimes a system needs just a little energy to make a quantum jump.

  • Ash

    Well, it figures that the Cubs can’t even be good at being good.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    Man, take a day off and you miss the limelight! Well, I’m glad that I provided you all with some food for thought (or whatever metaphor you prefer). It’s an effin’ weird season. My guess is that the front office has looked at numbers like this already: I’m not the first to note that the Cubs’ peripherals say “this an 86 win team!” I doubt that the FO buy the “chemistry” or “managing” ideas: we’ve seen worse managers and worse chemistry. (Hell, we’ve seen them play in WS.) That must present the FO with a quandary for one reason: in general, net OPS from one year is a good predictor of net OPS the next year. So, is this good net OPS “real” or just a few guys doing well at all the wrong moments? If you think the former, then you want to build around the contributing pieces. If not, regression to expectations for OPS (both by batters and allowed by pitchers) means that even a 0.500 season is a pipe dream and you might as start the sale.

    If “flummoxed” were a color, then color me that one!

    • MichiganGoat

      Doc I think I speak for large majority of us your insight and evaluations have made us better fans. Keep up the great work buddy I owe you a beer.

    • josh ruiter

      Really enjoyed it Doc…however to say the Cubs have a good OPS is not all that true. They have a below league average OPS…but their OPS against is very good thanks in no small part to outstanding starting pitching. but still good to bare in mind that their OPS is not good

  • Dipshit

    2012 Cubs
    babip .286
    BA-RISP .231
    obp .302

    2013 Cubs
    Babip .285
    BA-RISP .222
    Obp .300

    Someone explain to me how this is bad luck and they should be winning more games again please.

    • SirCub

      Nobody’s saying their terrible OBP is due to bad luck. And probably not their BABIP either. But a BA wRISP that far below their underlying BA is probably due to bad luck.

      The main point is that teams that get on base as much and slug as much as the Cubs have (relative to their opponents) usually score more runs than the Cubs have (relative to their opponents).

      And teams that score as many runs (relative to their opponents) as the Cubs have usually win more games than the Cubs have.

    • Cubbie Blues

      The article did a great job of showing that already. Now, do you want to engage in a meaningful discussion or continue to troll, Dipshit?

      • BluBlud

        Hey, don’t call him Dipshit. Name calling is not allowed. ;)

  • Dipshit

    Just trolling I guess. Fans just don’t want to believe they have unrealistic expectations for their team. Well written article, but I think “historically improbable” is a little much.

    • Cubbie Blues

      I would argue some points with Doc. But, arguing statistics with a scientist isn’t going to get you very far.

Bleacher Nation Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Bleacher Nation is a private media site, and it is not affiliated in any way with Major League Baseball or the Chicago Cubs. Neither MLB nor the Chicago Cubs have endorsed, supported, directed, or participated in the creation of the content at this site, or in the creation of the site itself. It's just a media site that happens to cover the Chicago Cubs.

Bleacher Nation is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Google+