Wisdom's Big Fly, Heyward's Struggles, Improving Pitchers, Muddy Balls, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Wisdom’s Big Fly, Heyward’s Struggles, Improving Pitchers, Muddy Balls, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Must. Avoid. Obi-Wan spoilers. For 10. Hours. Nobody do it in the comments!

  • Patrick Wisdom’s homer last night was (1) the longest of his career (461 feet), (2) the 15th longest in baseball this year, and (3) the end of a 14-game homer drought, which was the lengthiest of his career. Not bad for one long dinger.
  • Wisdom’s season line is back up to .222/.313/.458/113 wRC+, with a strikeout rate at 34.4%. It’s not a superstar-level performance, but it looks much more sustainable than last year when he was posting a similar wRC+, but with a strikeout rate over 40%. So this has definitely been a successful year for him so far. (The defensive metrics are down on him in a small sample this year, and he definitely has had more noticeable mistakes this year than last year; but I definitely wouldn’t describe him as a negative defender.)
  • Jason Heyward had a couple hits last night, his first multi-hit game in almost two weeks, and just his seventh of the season. The game raised his season slash line to .202/.270/.279/56 wRC+.
  • Dating back to the start of the 2021 season, just six players have a lower wRC+ than Heyward’s 65. Two are elite defensive catchers (Austin Hedges and Martin Maldonado), one is an elite defensive center fielder (Jackie Bradley Jr.), one is a shortstop who was on a tanking team (Kevin Newman), one is a former superstar who had a lot of injury issues and subsequent leeway (Cody Bellinger), and one is Cubs middle infielder Andrelton Simmons (also an elite defensive guy). Heyward definitely used to add so much with his glove that you could arguably maybe possibly justify the starts, but after such a protracted period of worst-in-the-league type offense, paired with very clearly declining defense in a non-premium position, and well, you know how this sentence ends.
  • This is a really interesting look at how/if organizations improve the effectiveness of pitchers who join their organization:
  • As you can see, the Cubs are in the just-below-average-overall area, which sounds about right when you consider the time period (2015-2022). For most of that stretch, the vast majority of imported pitchers for the Cubs were established veterans who slotted into roles and just kinda were what they were. You would expect them to more or less be themselves, with a natural degradation in stuff because of the aging curve, as noted. Plus, for as many successes as there were in the bullpen reclamations, there were also a lot of failures (that’s natural), and there were very, very few reclamation successes in the rotation.
  • THAT SAID, if the sample were reduced to the last few years, and if it could look ahead to the next few, you would have to hope the Cubs could fare much better. That’s where they need to be. It’s not remotely a coincidence that the clear top four organizations in this metric are the ones we already knew were so good at refining and improving acquired pitchers (Rays, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants). Those organizations figured out the secret sauce years ago, and the Cubs – among others – have been playing catch up ever since they failed to stay ahead of the curve in 2015-17.
  • Muddy them balls:
  • As you can see in the article, the efforts necessary to try to make each baseball as uniform as possible is almost absurdly labored. But apparently clubs were still doing things differently from each other – and probably internally different among staff, too – which MLB discovered by literally watching video of clubhouse attendants taking care of game balls. So the very explicit and detailed instructions went out to teams.
  • Murica:

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.