Considering Regression Indicators, Hacks and Hack, Rizzo's At Bat of the Year, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Considering Regression Indicators, Hacks and Hack, Rizzo’s At Bat of the Year, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Mom sent me home from our Christmas visit with a not-small container of her homemade Christmas cookies. It did not last 24 hours. And I did not share.

•   The latest Kevin Goldstein chat included his perspective on what he looks at when trying to determine whether regression to the mean (positive or negative) is coming soon for a player: contact rate, chase rate, and BABIP. You probably don’t need much explanation on the last one – if a guy is seeing his batted balls fall in at a rate totally out of line with his career norms (and out of line with the quality of his contact/there are no meaningful changes to his game that impact the quality of contact), then it’s more likely than not that his BABIP will regress toward his career norms over time, and his overall results will be impacted.

•   Contact rate and chase rate, though, are interesting ones that I wouldn’t have ever considered in this context. I’ll have to think about it some more before really putting it into practice. The idea, I suspect, is that if a guy is getting good results (or not), but his contact rate and/or his chase rate are looking really wonky, then it’s probably a good bet that there’s a lot of luck (good or bad) baked into the results, since those rates are going to suggest to you whether a guy is really locked in at the plate or not. In theory, guys who are making contact less than usual and/or who are chasing more than usual, are probably not going to see great results (particularly relative to their norms). So you could project regression.

•   Just as an interesting exploration on these concepts, it’s something we’ve discussed before: part of what makes Patrick Wisdom so unique is that, although his contact rate was the lowest in baseball last year (just 61.6%, a click worse than Javy Báez, who yes, was second worst), his chase rate is pretty unremarkable. That’s how we know that Wisdom doesn’t so much have pitch recognition issues as he has a hole in his swing (confirmed in the data up in the zone – it’s one of the biggest and most obvious holes I’ve ever seen, and it was clear as early as June). As we’ve discussed, for Wisdom to stay an above-average overall bat, he will have to continue making obscenely hard contact on everything else, and also continue not chasing. His BABIP (.318) doesn’t strike me as out-of-whack for the type of contact he makes, though obviously we need more of a baseline to really know. So I guess that’s what you watch on him coming out of the gate next year: is the BABIP holding steady, is the contact rate improving at all (but maybe not improving SO MUCH that it’s not realistic), and is he chasing more or less than in 2021? It’s possible we’ll be able to identify a little more quickly whether his early 2022 results are legit or not (for better or worse, depending on how things are going). Like I said, I kinda have to mull this concept a bit more to put it into practice.

•   The Phillies ZiPS are out, and what hits you in the jaw is how rooouggghhhhh their outfield is outside of Bryce Harper. That is a team that is desperate to add an impact outfielder, so you can expect them to be in on that group (including probably Harper’s good friend, Kris Bryant). Actually the whole offense is kind of a nightmare outside of Harper and Rhys Hoskins (even JT Realmuto doesn’t project all that well offensively). The rotation is a similar story after Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. The bullpen might be OK. Yeesh, on the whole, this is a kinda terrible team given how much they are currently paying for it. You can very safely expect the Phillies to be massively active whenever the offseason begins again.

•   A little Stan Hack history for you:

•   I know it was a different game in the 30s and 40s, but I’ll still never not be impressed by guys who did the kind of thing Hack did for his career: 5.5% strikeout rate, 12.8% walk rate, .301 average. Batting average rarely tells you enough of the story, but for Hack, when you see the strikeout rate and the walk rate, you get the picture of a guy who was simply superlative at commanding the strike zone and making quality contact. There wasn’t much power, obviously, but if you can take that many walks, you’re going to have a lot of success when you put the ball in play that much (hence the career OBP near .400). Kinda funny for a guy named Hack, AMIRITE.

•   Randomly remembered Anthony Rizzo’s ridiculous 14-pitch home run against the Cardinals when Wrigley Field was fully re-opened this year. I guess because I was thinking the wildest moments of the year yesterday. That was probably as wild as Wrigley got all year:

•   Joe wanted to do an Obvious Shirts contest with their new Marcus Stroman shirts, and wouldn’t you know it – the new guy took things next level, because he’s awesome:

•   The Bulls, who won again, are really quite good:

•   I am annoyed that this is taking so long – I am an admitted meatball when it comes to the Bears – but I suppose I understand that it doesn’t work to take advantage of the extra two-week interview window if you don’t have anyone in the org you want to actually do the interviews:

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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.