I have limited availability right now due to family travels, so you’ll have to forgive whatever the weekend winds up looking like. We’ll still figure out a way to be on anything big that breaks, but you may need to give me a little leeway.
- I don’t know why David Bote popped into my head yesterday, but here’s something I was thinking about:
Since we're doing "hey, that guy was actually really good" today …
David Bote broke his toe in the first series of the year, and played through it. (#Cubes) Can't say how long it took to heal, but from May 21 on, Bote posted a .270/.385/.434 line over 226 PAs (116 wRC+). pic.twitter.com/GH8AoDRgJD
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) November 29, 2019
- I remain a big Bote fan for who he is: a solid bat (he was a 106 wRC+ overall last year with a .362 OBP – third highest on the team) who can play adequate or better defense at third and second base, can be an emergency option at shortstop, and could probably also play first base and the outfield corners. Could he plausibly win a starting job as the second baseman? I suppose it’s possible, and if the Cubs don’t add externally, he might get that shot. I worry that with more exposure, his susceptibility to high fastballs and the breaking stuff would start to damage the results more than when he can be deployed a little more strategically – he did cut his strikeout rate last year, but it was still a very elevated 26.1%, leaving him susceptible to serious results problems if the hard contact ever fades. So, all that said, I think it’s much more likely that he remains a really good bench guy, and I’m happy the Cubs have him.
- On Bote having the third best OBP on the team, someone had an interesting follow-up question:
This wound up being kind of an interesting question.
The Cubs' .331 OBP was 4th best in NL, 8th best in MLB. But when you normalize and adjust for league, their OBP+ was exactly 100 (average). Still 4th best in the NL, but feels even more like an area for improvement. https://t.co/TrOkaRCQYM
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) November 30, 2019
- Looking at those adjusted stats is a trip, but also frequently confirms our anecdotal concerns: the Cubs not only hit the ball on the ground too much as a team, they also had the second worst line drive rate in all of baseball.
- So, generally speaking, among the things we’d like to see more of from the Cubs (on paper) by the time they’re finished with the offseason: higher contact rates, lower groundball rates, higher line drive rates. Set all the advanced analysis aside for a moment, and just think about those things – it just means guys who are squaring the ball up more frequently. That seems like a good thing to add.
- I actually tend to think I’ve gotten a little too away from even considering line drive rate when reviewing player performance. It becomes a little too easy to focus solely on hard contact and exit velocity, but even if you’re looking at those together with average launch angle, you can lose sight of guys who just have a knack for squaring up the ball and generating base hits. There is a repeatable skill embedded in there, and it’s distinct from *elevating* hard contact for power. I will try to do a better job on this front in 2020.
- A miscellaneous note to that end: league average line drive rate in 2019 was 21.4%, and I bet you could guess the few Cubs regulars who exceeded that mark … it’s Rizzo, Bote, and Victor Caratini. That’s it. And the guys who did it in a partial year? I bet you could guess them, too … it’s Nick Castellanos, Robel Garcia, and Nico Hoerner.
- More from Bryant on pitching prospect Richard Gallardo, whom we discussed a bit yesterday:
My guess at the 2020 plan with Gallardo: some offseason camps, bring him back slowly in spring, keep at Extended Spring Training while South Bend is still cold, consider him for SB rotation spot when a college guy gets promoted (late May?), with back to Eugene as back-up plan.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) November 29, 2019
- Ian Happ’s collaborative art project came to fruition:
— Ian Happ (@ihapp_1) November 29, 2019
- As an aside, I followed that artist on IG because of Happ’s project, and dang, the guy is a really fun and impressive follow:
- Pretty remarkable how much testing goes on and how few positive tests there are (just eight this year, I believe?):
From MLBPR: MLB conducted 11,619 drug tests during the 2019 Reporting Period. 9,332 were urine samples analyzed for PEDs, stimulants, DHEA, diuretics & masking agents. 2,287 blood samples were collected to test for hGH.
— Jessica Kleinschmidt (@KleinschmidtJD) November 29, 2019
- Either players just aren’t doping, the tests are flawed, or the banned substance list is not comprehensive enough. Some associated with the game still insist there is a lot of undetected PED use, but it does seem like – to an outsider – that’s a butt load of testing, and I know that the banned substance list is actually enormous.
- A fun FYI for anyone shopping at Obvious Shirts during their Black Friday sale (yesterday through Monday) – they’re also giving out 10 $100 gift cards at random to anyone who makes a purchase:
THE BIG ONE: every single thing at @obvious_shirts is 35% off today with free shipping. This is the one you want to take advantage of. Just go to https://t.co/X9HB2QoBE8 and use the code FRIDAY19. pic.twitter.com/2vQmaoSX7s
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) November 30, 2019
Also, Amazon has started their overload of Cyber Monday Deals for this weekend, so make sure you check it out. #ad