Astros Win Because Alvarez is Ridiculous, Thinking About His Trade, Over and Undervaluing Cubs Halves, Extreme Homers, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Astros Win Because Alvarez is Ridiculous, Thinking About His Trade, Over and Undervaluing Cubs Halves, Extreme Homers, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

With just one playoff game yesterday, I didn’t do a whole Roundup post. Can you “round up” one thing? Like, if your herd of cattle is just one steer, and he starts shuffling out onto the plains and you go to get him, are you rounding him up? Aren’t you just, like, getting him?

  • That playoff game saw the Houston Astros go up 2-1 on the Seattle Mariners, once again because Yordan Alvarez is one of the best hitters in baseball:
  • The Astros gave themselves a buffer in the 8th thanks to another rarity:
  • As for the earlier walk-off in the series, Codify has another fun tweet:
  • I think about Alvarez often in a very specific context: he was, at one time, a young Los Angeles Dodgers prospect whom they traded to the Astros for a decent reliever in Josh Fields. Sometimes, even a great organization doesn’t know what they have in a prospect and makes a mistake. In the case of Alvarez, he was a 19-year-old who hadn’t yet debuted even in the Dominican Summer League, so it was assuredly viewed as an extreme long-shot that he would develop into a big league contributor. Of course, the next year, Alvarez exploded in A-ball, destroyed Double-A the next year as a 21-year-old, and the rest is history. It happened very, very quickly. The Dodgers didn’t know what they had.
  • Last thing on Alvarez for today: I feel like, for me, the extreme awesomeness of his season got lost in the even more extreme awesomeness of Aaron Judge’s season. Alvarez hit .306/.406/.613/185 wRC+ this year. That’s the 5th best wRC+ season IN THE LAST DECADE.
  • We know all about the Cubs’ positive record in the second half of the season (39-31), and we also know – as Jed Hoyer pointed out at his press conference, and again on the radio – that it’s important not to take away too much from the win-loss record, itself, over a short stretch that featured some softer spots in the schedule. It’s much more important to look at player development and culture and all that stuff that can help you in the future.

The Cubs went 35-57 in the first half, a three-month stretch that included:

— Their only two series against the Dodgers (0-7)

— A trip to Yankee Stadium in which they were outscored 28-5 in a three-game sweep

— A four-game series loss to the Mets at Wrigley Field

— A 10-game losing streak in June against the Cardinals, Orioles, Yankees and Padres, all of which finished over .500

— A 3-10 stretch entering the break that included a nine-game skid

Injuries obviously played a role in the first half struggles, with the starting rotation hit especially hard. Marcus Stroman, Wade Miley and Drew Smyly all missed extended time.

  • Hoyer called the first half schedule “disproportionately” difficult, which is probably accurate. Pair that with the pitching injuries stacking up at the same time, and with some of the younger arms not yet having emerged, and you could probably make the argument that if you’re going to brush off the second half record, you also have to sand down the edges of the first half record, too. Is it enough to say the Cubs were a true-talent .500 team this past season? Heavens no. But maybe closer to that level than their final record shows? A game or two or three? Yeah, I could buy that argument.
  • Ultimately, that stuff only matters to the extent that it impacts how the team prepares itself to compete in 2023. What you want – in my view – is for the organization to see itself as having been closer to .500 than the record showed, because then they will be more justified in aggressively adding to the 2023 team. It’s less going toward how we talk about the 2022 team, and more going toward how we think about what is possible for the 2023 team.
  • The list features multiple Cubs appearances, on both sides, including at the very top (in a humorous way):
  • Manny Rodriguez getting some love:

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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.