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The Cubs Don’t Have Many Top 100 Players, Arrieta Has Actually Been Good, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

May the Fourth be with you, my good nerds.

Early May sure is full of these name days. Right before the month begins, people do that “It’s Gonna Be May” thing. May 1 is May Day. Then there’s the ‘Star Wars’ day on May 4, and then you’ve got Cinco de Mayo right after. And who could forget National Lost Sock Memorial Day on May 9?!

I am headed to Chicago this evening to be there for tomorrow’s series opener against the Yankees in the bleachers. If you’re going to be around at the game tomorrow, come say hey. I’ll be out there in right field somewhere …


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  • Dayn Perry at CBS ranked the top 100 players in baseball right now based solely on their performance through the first month of the season. In other words, no projections, no explaining things away, and no contracts. Just who have been the best 100 players so far this year. Is it surprising or unfair to learn that the Cubs have just two players on the list? Anthony Rizzo is 81st, and Kris Bryant is 17th. I could make an argument that Rizzo should be a lot higher (but he’s slipped a little bit in terms of results so far this year, with a 122 wRC+, 60th in baseball). Outside of that, though, who would you say belongs on the list? By WAR, Jason Heyward and Addison Russell (90 and 91) are the only other positional Cubs in the top 100, but you have to factor in pitchers, too, when creating an overall top 100. On the pitching side, Jon Lester is 56th in WAR, and John Lackey and Kyle Hendricks are also in the top 100, but each has been worth only 0.1 WAR. Not exactly top 100 performance material.
  • The only Cubs pitcher reasonably high on the WAR list is last night’s starter, Jake Arrieta, who is 36th. He doesn’t show up in the CBS rankings, though, and I can’t really argue with it – by results, Arrieta has a 4.63 ERA, and always seems to be giving up early runs that put the Cubs in a hole. As an outsider, you don’t look at that and say this guy has been a top 100 performer this year.
  • But – and last night was another perfect example – I actually still think Arrieta’s looked pretty good this season. We’ve talked ad nauseum (and partly explained away) the velocity stuff, and to my eye, his command has looked overall much better this year than last. His strikeout rate is up 4 percentage points from last year to a whopping 27.9% (15th best in baseball). His walk rate is down to a ridiculous 6.1% (22nd best). Those numbers alone tell me he’s doing some very good things. His results have been blown up by a .333 BABIP (up nearly 100 points from last year, and 15th highest in baseball), a 69.2% LOB rate (22nd lowest), and a 17.6% HR/FB ratio (21st highest). Normally, you’d see the fantastic K/BB numbers with the terrible other numbers, and you’d say this is the clearest case of small sample bad luck results ever. I’ll leave open the possibility that pitching more in the zone, with less velocity, has yielded more hard contact for Arrieta and that has increased BABIP, reduced LOB, and increased HR/FB. Totally possible to explain SOME of the changes in those numbers. But then again, Arrieta is 5th in baseball in soft contact. He’s 46th in hard contact, which is not good – and we’ve definitely seen him give up some very hard-hit balls on elevated pitches – and, again, that could be some of this. But, on the whole, my eyes and these numbers tell me Arrieta’s been pretty good this year, results be damned.
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

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  • Again, though, circling back to a very fair set of top 100 rankings that feature very few Cubs: it’s good that, despite that, the Cubs are 15-12 and in first place in the NL Central.
  • Aw, old friends Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney have love for each other:

  • Meanwhile in the AL East, the Red Sox and Orioles were still feuding, with Kevin Gausman ejected from last night’s game after hitting a Red Sox batter with a curveball. Probably no intent there? Sure. But this is what happens when things get out of hand.
  • Sammy Sosa was featured on the video board last night at Wrigley Field, which seems notable given the long-standing and very public separation:


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  • And if you’re in an interview kind of mood, Bernstein and Goff had Jason Heyward on to talk about a host of things:

  • What even the:

  • Statcast had that at 468 feet, which is a massive bomb, but doesn’t that seem like it had to be even further? I know the way the Trop is laid out is deceiving on the distance, but good God. That thing was unbelievable.
  • Over at The Ten-Yard Line, Luis explores a report about teams behind the Bears in the draft, and how the calls to trade for their picks suddenly stopped when the Bears took Mitch Trubisky.

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  • Being that today is May the Fourth Be With You day and all that, it only makes sense that the Amazon Deal of the Day is on ‘Star Wars’ collectibles and memorabilia. They’ve also got a play drone for $37.99, and I will alert Trevor Bauer.

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.