Addison Russell's Contact Quality, Mark Grace's Era, and Other Bullets

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Addison Russell’s Contact Quality, Mark Grace’s Era, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

addison russell batting cubsIt’s dad and his girls today – The Little and The Littlest – as the latter is home with me through January before she starts daycare, and the former is home with me today because she’s sick. Good thing I did a lot of writing and editing last night …

  • Tony Blengino has a system for evaluating player performance and adjusting the results based on quality of contact. In a year we so frequently discussed the quality of contact allowed by Cubs pitchers (they were all kinds of incredible at it), it’s interesting to look at Cubs hitters’ quality of contact – did they the get the results they “deserved”? To that end, Blengino’s most recent set is NL shortstops, and I found it just about right that Addison Russell, when adjusting for quality of contact, was an exactly league average hitter. That’s a bit better than his 95 wRC+, which is to say he was probably better at the plate this year than the results showed (that .277 BABIP was unlucky). When you pair that with his elite glove, you get a heckuva valuable player. He’s also not even 23 yet, and there’s plenty of upside in that bat.
  • Anthony Rizzo’s Walk-Off for Cancer was this weekend in Florida, and it raised more than $500,000 for cancer research and to assist families fighting cancer.
  • A winter league check-in with a couple Cubs prospects notes that utility infielder Chesny Young is raking in the Dominican Republic and righty Corey Black is posting a microscopic ERA in Puerto Rico. The caveat on on Young is that, although he’s hitting over .400, he has just one extra-base hit – a double – out of his 17 hits. I love the seven walks against just four strikeouts, but we’ve had this discussion about Young before – without any semblance of power, as he climbs the minor league ladder, fewer and fewer of those singles actually don’t find a glove, and fewer and fewer of those pitches are outside the zone. The caveat on Black is that his 17:7 K:BB ratio in 20.0 innings is not quite as dominant as the ERA.
  • Stephen Strasburg, who battled arm issues late last year, will reportedly reduce his reliance on the slider/cutter that had become a solidly valuable pitch for him last year (for the first time in three years of usage). Apparently, Strasburg believes upping the usage last year is what contributed to his forearm troubles. That’s something you hear from time to time about sliders and cutters, but I can’t recall the last time I heard of a player openly saying he though a particular pitch caused him arm troubles, so he was going to use it less frequently. I’m sure it happens all the time. We just don’t hear about it.
  • I started randomly perusing old player stats at FanGraphs last night, as one does, and I was curious to see how we would analyze Mark Grace through a more modern lens. A career 120 wRC+ despite the relative lack of power (.303/.383/.442) sounds pretty good to me, even at first base (remember, wRC+ is era and ballpark adjusted). Then again, from 1988 to 2000, in his time with the Cubs, Grace’s 123 wRC+ mark was 30th best in baseball among players with at least 5,000 plate appearances. Among first basemen, he was 9th (8th in WAR, for what it’s worth). So, then, Grace was a guy was solid and consistent for a very long time, but not quite great in an era loaded with huge bats and great first basemen. Grace was truly elite at making contact, though. His 6.8% strikeout rate trailed only Lance Johnson, Gregg Jeffries, and Tony Gwynn (yeah, holy crap 3.8%).
  • Pirates fans wonder how much ownership wants to ensure they make a profit, and how much they want to win a championship:

  • If the guy hadn’t swung, I wouldn’t be laughing so much:

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.