Should We Fear Tougher Offensive Environment for Cubs Youngsters? and Other Bullets

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Should We Fear Tougher Offensive Environment for Cubs Youngsters? and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

javier baez featureHappy Presidents Day! Wikipedia says that the holiday is still technically just Washington’s Birthday (I didn’t realize the wide range of state differences in what today is considered), though we’ve obviously colloquialized it into an all presidents thing. I guess that means you owe Theo Epstein a muffin basket, whatever state you live in.

  • Does it seem like rookies are having an easier time succeeding offensively in the big leagues in recent years? A harder time? There was a fair bit of literature out there last year when Javier Baez was struggling in his first taste of the big leagues, suggesting that it’s a particularly tough time for young, elite positional prospects to succeed in the big leagues because (1) they’re scouted more than ever and they enter a league with so much information already available on them that pitchers know exactly how to attack (and they are the best pitchers in the world, so they can execute it), and (2) pitcher improvement and specialization is making it harder for offensive players to succeed, regardless of age or standing. Jeff Sullivan takes on the question of whether the bigs are getting harder for rookies, and it makes for a very interesting visual read. The short version? While it appears that rookie positional players have had a slightly downtick in performance in the last few years, it’s not a huge amount, and it’s still within the normal range if you look back 25 years.
  • Given how much the 2015 Chicago Cubs will necessarily lean on rookie – and rookie-like – offensive players, that’s tentatively good news, such as you can take much away from it at all. As near as we can tell, there may not be a reason to believe guys like Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, and Addison Russell will be disproportionately abused as rookies, at least not compared to how it’s always been for rookies in the big leagues. That is to say, it’s tough for rookies, because they’re making one of the most difficult leaps in sports. But, presently, we don’t have enough evidence to say that the leap has become a ton more difficult in the last half decade. (Unless, of course, the last three years of declining rookie performance are not merely a statistical blip, and are a signal of some fundamental change within the game. That’s unlikely, by the way, because, as Sullivan puts it, “Every season, teams are a little bit smarter, but it wouldn’t get unusually tough for rookies overnight.”)
  • Joel Sherman offers the 50 most fascinating people in baseball as we head into the 2015 season, and, though it’s a little New York-heavy, it’s an interesting read. The only Cubs entrant is Joe Maddon at number five, but it’s really something of a catch-all for the Cubs as a whole.
  • Former Cubs third base coach Wendell Kim – Wavin’ Wendell – has passed away. Kim loved to roll the dice at third base, and, while I’m not sure the metrics would have agreed with his decisions all the time, it sure made for a lot of excitement.
  • Joe Maddon was honored for his work off the diamond, and he talks about what the Rays have to work with as they move forward.
  • For the very statistically-minded among you, here’s another look at the various projection systems’ efficacy. To me, the most interesting thing there is that, as you may have intuitively expected, the best-performing projection system is actually an amalgamation of all of them. In other words, where you see strong consensus among the projection systems for a player’s performance, that is something about which to take note.
  • Three messages from Cubs Business President Crane Kenney on Presidents Day.
  • Since it’s Presidents Day, your holy-crap-that-can’t-be-true fact of the day: the 10th president of the United States was John Tyler, who was born in 1790, and he has two living grandsons. You read that sentence correctly.

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Author: Brett Taylor

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