Pop Quiz – Which of These Cubs Has Had the Best Bat So Far This Year: Rizzo, Heyward, Happ, or Russell?

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Pop Quiz – Which of These Cubs Has Had the Best Bat So Far This Year: Rizzo, Heyward, Happ, or Russell?

Analysis and Commentary

Perusing stats after yesterday’s big game, I noticed a cluster of Cubs offensive performances so far this year from a certain group of players.

If you already know where everyone stands, this won’t be a fun exercise for you. But if you don’t already know, I just thought it would be enjoyable to take a stab at how the following four Cubs rank by Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) so far this year:

  • Anthony Rizzo
  • Jason Heyward
  • Ian Happ
  • Addison Russell

Although no single stat is perfect, wRC+ sums up the total offensive production of a player by weighting the value of various outcomes, accounts for ballpark impact, and then compares it against league average (100), with each point above or below 100 indicated one percent better or worse than league average. More here at FanGraphs, but the gist is it’s a really comprehensive data point on a guy’s offensive production.

So then, without looking, which of those four Cubs has had the best offensive year so far? And who’s next, and who’s next, and who’s next? All are solidly above-average right now, and they’re fairly well-clustered together, but what’s the order?

The answer is below, so scroll past without looking and lodge your guess in the comments if you want to play that way. Otherwise, you can just look at the answer …

Here it comes …

  1. Ian Happ – 113 wRC+ (238 plate appearances)
  2. Jason Heyward – 109 wRC+ (255 PAs)
  3. Addison Russell – 107 wRC+ (272 PAs)
  4. Anthony Rizzo – 106 wRC+ (315 PAs)

Probably not the order most of you would have guessed, and I’ll admit that I wouldn’t have had Happ at the top without checking. One thing that’s interesting to me is that the volume of plate appearances is relatively close for these guys, but actually tracks in reverse order – in other words, you could argue that the guys at the top are being a bit better protected in tough match-ups, thus helping their production a bit more than guys like Rizzo and Russell, who pretty much play every day.

There’s no grand conclusion here. I just found it interesting to see that these four players were clustered, and then to see how they were ordered.

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)


Author: Brett Taylor

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