We are less than a week away from watching the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Despite (likely) finishing in third place in their division, the Cubs (93-65) have one of the best records, have one of the youngest teams, and have been one of the most interesting stories in baseball. Because of how well they’ve been playing and their broad appeal, then, they’ve been getting more than their fair share of national coverage lately – to which I say, “Great.”
Just this week alone, for example, FanGraphs is home to six(!) different articles relating to players on the Cubs. Not all of them present new or necessarily statistically deep dives, but each is a fun, interesting read that should present some appeal to Cubs fans. So, let’s take a quick inventory of the articles in a rundown of national Cubs coverage …
- Jeff Sullivan – September 30, 2015: Anthony Rizzo, Bruised Into History
If you’ve been paying attention, you should be well aware of what this article is referencing. Indeed, it appears that Anthony Rizzo has become just the second player in baseball history to hit 30 home runs and get hit by 30 pitches in the same season. In fact, his 30 doubles would actually make him the lone 30/30/30 guy. In this article, Sullivan takes a look at the rarity and how Rizzo’s stance has changed to help cause it.
- Craig Edwards – September 30, 2015: Addison Russell is This Year’s Other Guy
In this article, Edwards takes a look at Addison Russell’s productive, if unspectacular season, in comparison to the monster rookie seasons of AL shortstops Carlos Correa (Astros) and Francisco Lindor (Indians). Because he debuted alongside Kris Bryant in a season where Correa and Lindor are stealing the SS show, Edwards believes Russell is being unfairly overlooked. In fact, Russell has become just one of 21 twenty-one-year-old shortstops to even qualify for a batting title since the 1940s and is among the leaders in WAR for 21-year-old shortstops in baseball history. Given the remaining projection and stellar defense, Edwards sees a breakout imminent in Russell’s future.
- Dave Cameron – September 29, 2015: The Cubs Have a #3 Starter
Because Jake Arrieta is aligned to start the NL Wild Card game next Wednesday, he will not be able to pitch again until game 3 of the NLDS at the earliest – you know, if the Cubs are there. With Jon Lester theoretically pitching Game 1 of that series, the Cubs will need at least one more starter to match up against the winner of the NL Central. Despite having a fantastic first half, Jason Hammel isn’t quite the lock he appeared to be at the beginning of the year. Instead, Cameron believes Kyle Hendricks is that guy. By examining his most recent pitch mix and production, Cameron presents are convincing argument to hand the ball to Hendricks in Game 2.
- Carson Cistulli – September 29, 2015: Hendricks First Ivy Leaguer in Years to Produce Three Wins
After Cameron made us believe in the future of Kyle Hendricks, Carson Cistulli explains why we should be excited about his past. As it stands, Kyle Hendricks has thrown 174.0 innings across 31 starts, amassing 3.1 fWAR in 2015. Although a previous series identified some school-related trends (like second baseman typically come from colleges, shortstops typically skip the collegiate level and junior-college players, in general, outperform their draft slot expected win totals), this article merely points out an interesting data point: Hendricks is the first player drafted from an Ivy league school to produce a season with greater than 3.0 WAR since 2009. While that is not the most separating of statistics, it is an interesting call out and something worth discussing.
- Jeff Sullivan – September 28, 2015: Jake Arrieta’s Argument for the Best Season Half Ever
I don’t need to explain this one to you, the title tells it all. As Jake Arrieta looks to finish the best season of his career, he also looks to finish out what actually may have been the most dominant half of a season by anyone. Ever. Through a series of metrics, Sullivan tries to compare other half seasons throughout the history of baseball and concludes that Arrieta’s may, in fact, be tops.
- Carson Cistulli – September 28, 2015: Jake Arrieta and the Rarity of a Pitcher Going Oppo
Not to be shown up by his own best half-season ever or six perfect innings, Jake Arrieta added to his myth by hitting an opposite field home run (and just missing another to left-center) Sunday versus the Pirates. And, while pitcher home runs (or hits, for that matter) are relatively rare, it turns out that home runs hit by pitchers in the opposite direction are nearly historic. In this article, Cistulli takes us through some of the numbers behind that feat.