You know what I love about every MLB season? There’s always a new hero.
There’s always at least one guy – on every team, almost every year – who steps up and becomes a totally different and better contributor by the end of the season. Sometimes, those jumps in production are just flashes in the pan, but other times they’re just reasonable steps forward from already talented athletes.
Willson Contreras is the Cubs’ newest hero this year, and with yet another brilliant performance yesterday (this time against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Zack Grienke), he’s slowly proving that he’s far more than a flash in the pan.
Take a look for yourself:
Contreras, who’s entrenched himself as the Cubs clean-up hitter, hit two home runs and a two-run single last night and added another 6 RBI to his season total. For the year, he’s hitting .276/.347/.508, which is good for a 120 wRC+ (3rd best among all qualified catchers in baseball).
In the second half of the season alone, Contreras is slashing an MVP-like .333/.413/.712. That’s good for a 185 wRC+, which is the 10th best second-half production in all of MLB (one spot AHEAD of Mike Trout). But you needn’t use recent, smaller sample sizes to get a jaw-dropping slash line from the Cubs young and electric catcher.
In the 253 plate appearances Contreras has put together since all the way back on May 9, he’s slashing .304/.373/.580 (143 wRC+) with 14 doubles and 16 home runs. That’s absolutely bananas. And while both his average and on-base percentage have been truly great this year, it’s the sudden burst of power that’s really caught everyone’s attention.
For the season as a whole, Contreras has worked a .232 ISO and a .508 SLG percentage, both of which trail only Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant on the Cubs this season. And since the All-Star break, those numbers move to .379 ISO (5th best in MLB) and .712 SLG (6th best in MLB) thanks to … how many homers was it again?
Willson Contreras has hit SEVEN home runs since the All-Star break! pic.twitter.com/ARIPDHOeyN
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) August 3, 2017
Sure, you may not have liked the bunt attempt and subsequent strikeout in the bottom of the ninth inning last night (although, to be honest, Contreras’ reasoning wasn’t actually too off-base), but clearly he’s a catcher on the rise, and is the Cubs’ cleanup hitter of the future (and present!).
And that’s without even mentioning the rocket he has in place of an arm.