The Underlying Castro and Rizzo Improvements and Other Bullets

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The Underlying Castro and Rizzo Improvements and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

anthony rizzo featureI’ve started to incorporate greek yogurt into my smoothies, rather than the regular, much-better-tasting varieties. So far, it’s do-able. I knew that greek yogurt was better for you, but I didn’t know it was crazy better for you.

  • There are a couple good reads over at Beyond the Box Score right now on Starlin Castro’s approach changes over the last couple years, and the reasons Anthony Rizzo exploded last year. Most of end-result stuff won’t surprise you (Castro swung at better pitches, and did more damage with pitches in the zone; Rizzo got better luck and improved dramatically against lefties), but the underlying analysis is really interesting to see. It’s especially interesting to see, with these two guys, how the aggregation of several smaller performance improvements can lead to a significant overall performance improvement. It’s also interesting to see how most of the improvements in outcomes are sustainable going forward. For all the talk of the Cubs needing to be carried by youngsters in 2015, the performances of Castro and Rizzo are, perhaps, even more important (not that they’re, like, old).
  • (Also on Castro and Rizzo? Beards.)
  • Russell Carleton has a gory math piece up at BP worth checking out if you want to understand how we can use data to analyze one small subset of a manager’s skills – namely, the ability to help prevent his players from fading down the stretch as the season grinds them down. You don’t want to take too much away from it, in part because the work confirms that the differences we’re talking about among managers is relatively small. But, it sure is interesting to see Joe Maddon’s name up near the top of the list, given how frequently he talks about this very issue. Maddon’s been in charge of the Cubs for exactly zero games, but how many times have we already heard him discussing the need to keep guys fresh, mentally and physically, both by way of in-season rest, and also by way of a relaxed atmosphere without too many rules and show-up-early-for-batting-practice stuff. It turns out that, based on that data, not only does Maddon actually live into the virtues he’s espousing, they have a tangibly positive effect on his teams.
  • ESPN ranked all professional organizations by their affection for/adoption of analytics (for some reason), and the Cubs show up in the top tier of baseball teams. This seems like a truly bizarre undertaking, but, well, it looks pretty and it provides a little more info about the Cubs’ analytics department. So that part’s cool.
  • Patrick Mooney on the Cubs missing out on Yoan Moncada, and Jed Hoyer conceded that Moncada was on the radar for a lot of folks, but the Cubs’ IFA restrictions were an issue. It sounds a bit like the front office was, as we were, hoping the unblocking process would have taken a little longer. Fortunately for the Cubs, it does seem like there will be some big-time Cuban talent available after July 2, in addition to the typical IFA guys.
  • The seventh best-selling jersey in baseball since January 1 is Jon Lester’s number 34 (Crain’s).
  • Twitter/Dexter Fowler fun:

  • This has nothing to do with anything except to terrify you:

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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.