The Joy of the Cubs' Second Half, the Otherworldly Defense, and Other Bullets

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The Joy of the Cubs’ Second Half, the Otherworldly Defense, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

cubs walk off winSomeone sent us an adorable baby Cubs hat for The Littlest Girl, but the package doesn’t indicate who it came from. So, a blanket thanks to all of the world for its kindness! She is gonna wear that thing out in a couple weeks …

  • Joe Sheehan writes about the Wild Card race from the perspective of which team the Cubs would want to face in the NLDS, and I tend to agree with his conclusion that, because the Giants are the only of the three teams that boasts two excellent starters (Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto), they’re probably the one you’d fear most in a five-game series (probably aligned and rested, those two starters would get three of the five games). That said, the Mets have been playing sneaky great for the past month and a half, and even without Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz, they probably scare me just a touch more than the Cardinals at this point. The reality, though, is that I can see some really deep flaws in all three teams at this point, and I can also see all three teams beating the Cubs in a short series because baseball.
  • Jeff Sullivan digs into extreme team statistics and finds that the Cubs’ BABIP against this year is the most extreme team statistic by a long shot. In other words, the BABIP against the Cubs this year (.251) is so far and away better than the rest of baseball (second place is .284 – TWO-EIGHTY-FOUR!) that it’s more extreme than, for example, the record-breaking volume of home runs the Reds have given up. It’s one more indication that (1) the Cubs’ pitching this year is very good at limiting hard contact, and (2) the Cubs’ defense this year is otherworldly. (Oh, and also, the Cubs have probably seen a whole lot of good luck on batted balls.)
  • This will be something we talk about in the future, I’m sure, but Statcast is including a new metric for evaluating performance: barrels. Short version? There’s a sweet spot in exit velocity and launch angle whereby a batted ball will disproportionately fall for a hit, and probably go for extra bases. In other words, when a dude absolutely crushes the ball. It’s interesting to see which batters are highest up on the lists (no Cubs), and which pitchers are lowest (Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta make an appearance).
  • Baseball America has the Cubs’ full instructional league roster, by the way, if you want to see all the youngsters participating this month. If you’re wondering what the instructional league is, you probably missed this post.
  • Former Cub, current Mariner, Steve Clevenger posted some pretty clearly racist things on Twitter yesterday, caused a huge stir, and then issued an apology that hedged in every possible direction. Clevenger hasn’t been with the Cubs since he was part of the trade for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop in 2013, and while I’m glad this didn’t happen on the Cubs’ watch, it does make you wonder how the organization would respond if something like this did happen involving a current player. Hopefully none of them actually have the feelings required to animate the hurtful things Clevenger said in the first place, and, even if they (regrettably) did, hopefully they’d have the bare minimal good sense not to tweet it.
  • Quite a few “W” flags on sale at Amazon, among other Cubs goodies, if you were looking to stock up for the playoffs.

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.