Earlier today, I was curiously browsing the FanGraphs leaderboards to check in on the top Cubs offensive performers of the second half, when I discovered that – to my surprise – Kyle Schwarber’s overall offensive contributions (137 wRC+) were technically better than Kris Bryant’s (136 wRC+). Obviously, no one is saying that Schwarber is or will be better than Bryant (he’s not and won’t be), but that’s the sort of “fun” you can have with small samples, when you’re looking backwards to see what has already happened. It’s interesting Cubs stuff. And I like interesting Cubs stuff.
But that little quirk got me even more curious to see what else was going on that we might’ve missed since the break. So I filtered out every player with fewer than 20 PAs since the half-way point (i.e. there’s no Martin Maldonado or Ian Happ (though you’re not missing much with either)) to see what we would find.
None of what follows is meant to be predictive for the stretch run, mind you. Instead, it’s just meant to be a little update on what has happened since the All-Star break passed us by:
Second-Half wRC+ Leaderboards:
- Anthony Rizzo (63 PAs): 157 wRC+
- Kyle Schwarber (51 PAs): 137 wRC+
- Kris Bryant (66 PAs): 136 wRC+
- Addison Russell (23 PAs): 120 wRC+
- Jason Heyward (57 PAs): 100 wRC+
- Javy Baez (66 PAs): 86 wRC+
- David Bote (29 PAs): 81 wRC+
- Willson Contreras (22 PAs): 74 wRC+
- Victor Caratini (32 PAs): 68 wRC+
- Robel Garcia (45 PAs): 61 wRC+
First of all … oh my. There are a lot of ugly performances. And for what it’s worth Albert Almora Jr. has a 54 wRC+ since the All-Star break, which ranks last among the 11 qualified hitters. Addison Russell’s numbers stand out in a good way, but he also has the highest ground ball rate (64.3%) and soft-hit rate (28.6%) after the break and before getting demoted, so … yeah none of that was particularly well-earned.
Unfortunately, Javy Baez’s numbers look pretty bad, too: .262/.273/.462. On top of just generally poor results, he’s also taken just 1 walk in 65 PAs, but has struck out 20(!) times. And as if that weren’t enough, his 22.2% soft-hit rate is very high (not just for him, but for anyone) and his 35.6% hard-hit rate is below-average, as well. Basically, it’s been a rough stretch here Baez – results and peripherals alike.
Jason Heyward’s league average bat since the break feels about right. After a period of relatively wonderful success at the plate, he’s been pretty quiet, but not terrible, lately. His overall slash line still sparkles: .309/.333/.455, but a 3.5% walk rate, 28.1% strikeout rate, and .421 BABIP help explain why it hasn’t been quite as good as his best. I will say that I’m very happy to see he’s kept the ball off the ground (35.9% ground ball rate) and is striking it with authority (41.0% hard-hit rate). In *any* sized sample, you’d prefer that to the alternative.
David Bote’s numbers have been particularly bad here in the second half and a 60.0% ground ball rate isn’t helping … neither is his 20.0% hard-hit rate. Hopefully, he can start elevating soon, because that sort of batted ball data will never lead you anywhere you want to be – no matter how lucky (or not) you are.
In terms of long balls, all 11 qualifiers have at least one in the second half.
Home Run Leaderboard
- Schwarber: 6 HRs
- Bryant: 4 HRs
- Baez/Almora: 3 HRs
- Rizzo/Garcia: 2 HRs
- Heyward/Russell/Bote/Contreras/Caratini: 1 HR
But it is worth pointing out that Heyward and Rizzo each have 5 doubles a piece – Baez has 4 doubles, himself, while Bryant/Schwarber/Garcia each have two. Anthony Rizzo is the RBI leader with 13, followed closely by Schwarber (11), Heyward and Bryant (7), then Baez and Garcia (6), who also has the only triple.
The Cubs may yet add a bat at the deadline, but they’ll need some of their best hitters to start heating up here in the second-half, as well.