The Cubs just need to win tonight and you feel perfectly fine and good about yet another series. Drop tonight’s game, and people start talking about how the Cubs have lost two series in a row and three of the last four …
• Willson Contreras’s framing improvements this year are incredible:
Can't give Willson Contreras enough credit on how far he has come with his framing.
Runs Extra Strikes (Statcast):
T-1st of 60
Called Strikes Above Avg (BP):
T-3rd of 88
Strike Rate (Statcast):
5th of 60
— Cooper (@RushingBaseball) August 26, 2020
• That’s a guy who was, across the board, one of the worst-framing catchers in all of baseball for years. Now? He rates among the very best. Willson Contreras deserves so much credit for what he’s done, and it’s going to keep him at a top-tier value level for a long time (electronic strike zone TBD).
• The Cubs also deserve a lot of credit. We’ve talked about it for years: framing is one of the few skills where a guy, with the right talent and effort and training, can actually leap from well below average to well above average. The Cubs invested heavily on the coaching side to improve their team framing, and clearly, it’s been a win for Contreras. You can see it in the changes to his approach back there (it looks kinda crazy at times, but it works), and you can see it in the data. The improvements are no doubt helping Cubs pitchers – keep that in mind when you consider the pitcher success this year.
• Also, re: Willson? The one offensive highlight from last night:
• That’ll help bridge the gap between Contreras’s expected stats and his actual ones, but it’s still pretty wide: based on his quality of contact at Statcast, Contreras’s wOBA should be about .376 (that’s a stat that is scaled to look like a number you’d instantly recognize as good or bad – .376 is really good). But his actual wOBA is just .311, which is pretty meh. By that measure, he’s been getting mighty unlucky.
• The one non-offensive highlight from last night:
Well. At least Tony 2 Chains is back. pic.twitter.com/5RSDPDmD8M
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) August 25, 2020
• Backup battery systems, massagers, human-grade dog food(!), and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad
• White Sox ace Lucas Giolito threw a no-hitter last night, further underscoring how “fun” the 2020 White Sox have been:
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) August 26, 2020
• This really, really sucks – and it’s going to happen all over baseball in the coming months:
The Yankees had a wave of layoffs and furloughs last week that hit virtually every single department. Player development — the minor league system — was hit particularly hard, basically cleaned out on furloughs for the rest of the year. https://t.co/D77Z3njWiM
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) August 26, 2020
• Worse, if there is no confidence that 2021 can open with fans in the stands, it’ll get even uglier in the Spring. Our rough early “response” to the coronavirus haunts every part of our lives right now (he says as a parent trying to write this while also helping kids do remote learning), and could continue to do so on into 2021 without EVEN MORE support for testing, masking, contact tracing, quarantining where necessary, etc. That isn’t politics, that’s just epidemiology 101. We have to get better if – among many other more serious things – we want baseball to be in a good place next year.