In case you missed it yesterday, I took a look at how poorly the Cubs pitching staff has been in high leverage situations so far in 2015. I encourage you to read the article, but the gist of it is that the Cubs BB%, Opposing Batting Average, ERA and FIP spike tremendously, while their K% plummets in the moments that matter most. Allowing more guys on base and failing to strike out their successors has resulted in more batters on the base paths, balls in play and runs scored. The Cubs pitchers are, essentially, at their very worst in the least opportune moments of the season.
Pitching is only half of the game, though. I remember a time, early on in the season, where the Cubs were rallying – on the backs of the bats – seemingly every night. The Cubs managed the walk-off walk last night, but let’s see if the Cubs do in fact shine in high leverage situations or if they fade away quietly in the moments that matter. The following check-in stats are through Wednesday afternoon.
In High Leverage Situations …
- The Cubs’ BB% increases from 9% to 10.4%
- The Cubs’ K% decreases slightly from 26.1% to 25.9%
- The Cubs’ average increases from .247 to .265
- The Cubs’ OPS increases from .713 to .729
- The Cubs’ ISO decreases from .142 to .128
- The Cubs’ BABIP increases from .322 to .349
- The Cubs’ wRC+ increases from 94 to 100
In general, then, the Cubs hitters have performed better in high leverage situations. They are walking more, striking out less, hitting for more average, getting a little luckier on balls in play and creating more runs. Their ISO does decrease, but their OPS goes up thanks to the extra walks and average, so overall it’s a positive.
Unlike yesterday, though, I excluded the Cubs’ rank among other MLB teams from these bullets. While the Cubs have performed better than the regular season version of themselves, they are more or less average in every other category when compared to the rest of MLB. In some stats (BB%, for example), their rate increases, but their rank actually goes down – implying that other teams perform even better in high leverage situations, despite performing far worse in regular situations (probably the Cardinals).
Also, it’s good to see the K% go down in high leverage situations – it’s worst in MLB otherwise – but it’s not exactly a huge decrease. That’s something that they will always struggle with, as most young, slugging players often do, but a further drop would be nice. You’d also like to see their ISO increase and their BABIP normalize a bit, but, overall, the Cubs are creating more runs and are generally better in high leverage situations.
I suppose there are a few ways to look at these results. On the one hand, the Cubs are just in the middle of the pack, nothing special, when it comes to offensive performance in high leverage situations. On the other hand, being average at performing in high leverage situations isn’t a bad thing. Wouldn’t we love it if the bullpen was more average in high leverage situations? Most importantly, the Cubs have performed better than themselves in these situations, and that may be all you can ask for.