Cubs @ Cardinals – Series Preview (May 4 – May 7, 2015)

Series Preview ROAD Cardinals

Despite losing Adam Wainwright for the season, the Cardinals are off to their best start in basically forever.  They are 18-6 on the season, and sit at the top of the NL Central with a 4.5 game lead on the second place Cubs.  The Cardinals have won six straight games, and are 11-2 at home, which means they are bound to lose some games!  The Cubs come into this series limping on the offensive side of things, not a whole lot is going right at the plate.  Despite recent struggles, the Cubs are off to a pretty solid start of their own, and this series is probably the first “big” one of the year as the Cubs would love to split, and hold steady in second place.

Broadcast Information:

  • Monday, May 4, 2015 – 7:10 PM CST – CSN Chicago / ESPN
  • Tuesday, May 5, 2015 – 7:15 PM CST – WGN TV / MLB Network
  • Wednesday, May 6, 2015 – 7:15 PM CST – CSN Chicago
  • Thursday, May 7, 2015 – 12:45 PM CST – CSN Chicago

Pitching Matchups:

Who is Hot:

  • Cardinals:  Of course Matt Carpenter is taking it to another level this year, he’s been fantastic.  Over his last seven games he’s hitting .360 (9-for-25) with four doubles, a triple, a dinger, five RBI’s, and five walks.  Go away.
  • Cubs:  After a slow start to the year, Miguel Montero is turning it on.  Miggy is hitting .467 (7-for-15) over his last four starts with an RBI, and a walk.  Would like to see some extra base hits, but he’s squaring it up.

Who is Not:

  • Cardinals:  Well, it’s only a matter of time before Yadier Molina starts coming up with big hits, it’s usually against the Cubs.  Hopefully that doesn’t happen, the aging backstop is struggling, he’s hitting .111 (3-for-27) in his last seven with only two strikeouts, the BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is getting him.
  • Cubs:  It was probably a matter of time before Kris Bryant cooled down, he wasn’t going to hit .400 this year contrary to many reports from fans.  Bryant is hitting .190 (4-for-21) over his last six with four walks, and ten strikeouts.

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Javier Baez Crushes First Dinger (VIDEO)

Baez Dinger

Welcome back, Javy.  Javier Baez had his best game in Iowa since returning from his leave of absence, it included a bomb.  Only good things can come from him getting hot.

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Sunday Stats! (OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+)

Sunday Stats

Reminder:   The one thing I love about twitter is meeting other Cubs fans, talking baseball, and getting to know them.  There is never anything wrong with talking baseball, and I want to give fans an opportunity to share their thoughts on the Cubs here on the blog.  So our first new feature will be all about stats, the advanced kind, so you know what I’m talking about if I throw some sort of weird numbers at you.  Brandon has volunteered to introduce readers to some of these stats every Sunday, I hope you enjoy the feature, and give Brandon a follow on twitter to talk some baseball.

  Welcome back to the second Stats Sunday (which is tentative to change). Sorry I couldn’t get one in last weekend as I was on vacation. Today we are going to talk about 3 stats that are the foundation of your understanding of batting stats. These 3 are the Adam and Eve of Baseball sabermetrics. We are talking about OBP, or On Base Percentage, SLG, or slugging percentage, and finally OPS, or On Base plus Slugging.

  To have a solid understanding of OBP, is the first step to understanding every other stat that’s ever been created. Let’s talk about what goes into OBP. The formula is as follows: OBP=    The purpose of OBP is to account for all the ways a hitter can get on base or influence baserunners. Critical fact: It was the first sabermetric to incorporate getting on base via a walk. Back twenty or thirty years ago, this was like landing on the moon for baseball nerds. However, nothing is perfect. It doesn’t account for the value of say a homer or a triple, which is where slugging percentage comes in.  SLG = (1B + 2 × 2B + 3 × 3B + 4 × HR) / AB. The genius of slugging percentage is just the problems of OBP. A double is given more value than a single but less than a triple. Here comes the most inclusive stat thus far, OPS (On Base plus Slugging). Actually, that is the formula, super simple. All of the problems of OBP and the problems of SLG are fixed by this one stat. It represents all of the ways a hitter can get on base and represents the value of hits.

  Let’s get into why you should be using these stats and how to use them. Why should you use OBP? Very simply, to determine how often a hitter is getting on base. Joey Votto led the league in 2012 with an OBP of .474, that is absolutely ridiculous. The OBP average from 1901-2014 was .329, and last year the league average was .321.  A VERY good OBP is normally around .390. The league average from 1901-2014 for SLG is .382. The average from 1980-2014 was 406. Let’s say anything below .390 is below league average and anything above .390 is above league average. Finally, league average OPS is around 740, 800 is good, 1000 is less than what Kris Bryant had in his minor league career. This is not a joke.

  SURPRISE! ONE MORE STAT TODAY! We call it OPS+. This is by far the easiest stat of the bunch to understand.  League average is set at 100 and for every point you are above, you are 1 percentage point better than league average. The same goes for an OPS+ under 100.  Another cool thing about OPS+ is that it is adjusted to park factors. So a hitter’s park like Coors field would inflate an OPS+. With a pitcher’s park, you would normally have lower numbers. The single season leader for OPS+ EVER is 266 from Barry Bonds. He was kind of good at the baseballs. On average, I like a known hitter to have an OPS in the 130-150 range. That’s where Rizzo falls in. Let’s take a look at the OPS+ from the 1984 Cubs who were known as being a really, really good hitting team. The following chart is sorted by OPS+ from largest to smallest using Excel. Which reminds me, if you ever want any data I use in the articles, send me an email, and within the hour you will have more Cubs stats than you can possibly imagine.

OBP article graphic

  Unfortunately, I am having a little trouble with Tableau and how to make the data consolidated, so that it is easy to read. There is a way to make the data more interactive and fun to play but am not sure how. And because of this, I can’t get the data into a picture that everyone can see. Just for a little taste of the action, Rogers Hornsby is the career leader for the Cubs with an OPS over 1000. Let me know if you can help out. Send me an email if you want to mess around with the picture. It’s just way too much data to put in a graph that will fit in the articles.  Looking at the chart, we see number 1, Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg. He consistently came through with good seasons and by the way, THE NUMBER OF PLATE APPEARANCES. HOLY COW! I left the pitchers in because it’s fun to see how bad pitchers are at batting.

  So that’ll wrap it up for this week. Next week we will look at a stat that is simple, yet tells a lot about a player’s power. Go Cubs!  

          — Brandon

Hope everyone enjoyed the first “Sunday Stats,” if you are interested in sharing something about baseball just give me a shout on twitter.

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Cubs GameDay! May 3, 2015 (Lineups, Broadcast Info, Weather)

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First pitch:  1:20 PM CST
TV:  WGN TV and MLB Network
Radio:  WBBM NEWSRADIO 780
Weather:  partly cloudy, 75 degrees, wind blowing out at 18 MPH, there is some rain in the area, looks hit and miss.

Cubs Lineup:

1.  Fowler – CF
2.  Soler – RF
3.  Rizzo – 1B
4.  Bryant – 3B
5.  Montero – C
6.  Castro – SS
7.  Coghlan – LF
8.  Hammel – SP
9.  Russell – 2B

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Riding the Bus: May 2, 2015 (Cubs Minor League Reports)

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SATURDAY • MAY 2, 2015

Iowa Cubs 5-2 Final

Full Box Score

A number of teams are having trouble beating Oklahoma City this year, you can add Iowa to said list as they lost yet again to the Dodger, 4-1.

At the Plate:

On the Mound:

  • Tsuyoshi Wada got the start and was the hard luck loser as he was brilliant.  Wada worked seven innings, giving up two run, both unearned, on two hits while walking one, and striking out five.
  • Yoanner Negrin couldn’t keep things close late in this one, he worked two innings, giving up two runs on three hits while walking three, and striking out one.

Tennessee Smokies 5-2 Final

Full Box Score

After losing both an early and late lead, Tennessee somehow found a way to pull this one out with a run in the tenth.  Of course that run came from a Kyle Schwarber dinger, hero.

At the Plate:

  • Kyle Schwarber only had one hit but it was a big one, he finished the night 1-for-5 with said dinger, an RBI, and a run scored.
  • Dan Vogelbach got back on track, he was 3-for-4 with a walk, a double, a triple, an RBI, and a run scored.
  • Stephen Bruno has been good all year, he was 1-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored in the win.
  • Bijan Rademacher provided the early fireworks, he was 1-for-4 with a dinger, three RBI’s, and a run scored.

On the Mound:

  • Corey Black got the start and was missing bats left and right, he tossed 5.2 innings, giving up four runs, three earned, on six hits while walking two, and striking out ten(!).
  • Starling Peralta has been good all year, he was again last night, he worked two scoreless innings while surrendering three hits.
  • P.J. Francescon picked up a blown save, and a win, he worked 2.1 innings, giving up one run on four hits while striking out one.

Myrtle Beach 5-2 Final

 Full Box Score

Things got a little dicey for the Pelicans late in this one, but they were able to weather the storm and hang on for a 5-4 win over Lynchburg.

At the Plate:

  • Mark Zagunis flashed some rare power, he was 1-for-3 with his first dinger of the year, an RBI, a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored.
  • Jacob Rogers had a solid game, he was 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored.
  • Trey Martin was productive in the win, he was 1-for-4 with an RBI, a stolen base, and a run scored.
  • Carlos Penalver had a great game from the bottom of the order, he was 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, and two RBI’s.

On the Mound:

  • Paul Blackburn got the start, and picked up his second win of the season, he worked five innings, giving up one run on six hits while walking one, and striking out two.
  • Gerardo Concepcion had an off and on appearance, he worked two innings, giving up three runs on four hits while walking two, and striking out six.
  • Tayler Scott, and Jasvir Rakkar both worked a scoreless inning late with Rakkar picking up his second save of the season.

South Bend 5-2 Final

Full Box Score

It’s nice to be on this side of things, after blowing a number of saves early this year the South Bend Cubs finally registered a come back win of their own.  Trailing 4-2 in the eighth the Cubs pushed three runs across to the delight of the sellout crowd in South Bend.

At the Plate:

  • Gleyber Torres is terrorizing Midwest League pitching, he went 1-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base, and three runs scored.
  • Chesny Young had a great game, he was 2-for-3 with a walk, two RBI’s, and a run scored.
  • Cael Brockmeyer has been outstanding, he was 2-for-4 with a run scored in the win, and is hitting .356 on the season.
  • Yasiel Balaguert made his one hit count, he went 1-for-4 with a double, and three RBI’s.

On the Mound:

  •  Trevor Clifton started this one, and didn’t get much help behind him.  Clisfton worked five innings, giving up three runs, on earned, on three hits while walking two, and striking out three.
  • Tyler Ihrig was great out of the pen, and earned his first win of the season.  Ihrig worked three innings, giving up one run on four hits in the process.
  • James Farris was perfect in the ninth to pick up his first save of the season, he struck out the side as well.

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Dan Vogelbach Triples, It’s Hilarious (VIDEO)

Just look at that guy fall down, and that might have been the softest hit ball of the year for Dan Vogelbach.  The big man scoots around the bases for a triple, athleticism, personified.

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Schwarber Destroys Game Winning Dinger (VIDEO)

Oh nothing, I’ve just been watching this all night.  Kyle Schwarber hit a go ahead, game winning dinger tonight.  Here it is, in all it’s beauty.

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Cubs GameDay! May 2, 2015 (Lineups, Broadcast Info, Weather)

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First pitch:  1:20 PM CST
TV:  CSN CHICAGO
Radio:  WBBM NEWSRADIO 780
Weather:  Sunny, 71 degress (Crazy, I know)

Cubs Lineup:

1.  Soler – RF (!)
2.  Fowler – CF
3.  Rizzo – 1B
4.  Bryant – 3B
5.  Montero – C
6.  Castro – SS
7.  Denorfia – LF
8.  Arrieta – SP
9.  Russell – 2B

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Addison Russell’s First Major League Dinger! (VIDEO)

Russell Hi

Addison Russell got the Cubs on the board this afternoon with an absolute bomb, I love that noise off his bat.  Congrats, kid, the first of many.

 

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Riding the Bus: April 30, 2015 (Cubs Minor League Reports)

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THURSDAY • APRIL 30, 2015

South Bend 4-30 Final

Full Box Score

South Bend closed out April this afternoon with a 6-3 victory over West Michigan, the win moved the Cubs to 11-10 on the season.  Erick Leal was solid on the mound, and the Cubs had the bats working just enough to take the matinee.

At the Plate:

  • Gleyber Torres is not performing like an 18 year old in single A, he went 4-for-5 with a double, an RBI, a stolen base, and a run scored.
  • Chesny Young was productive without a hit, he went 0-for-3 with a walk, two RBI’s, and a run scored.
  • Jason Volser had a solid day, he went 2-for-5 with two RBI’s, a double, and a run scored.
  • Justin Marra has struggled at the plate, but he was productive today, he went 2-for-4 with an RBI, and a run scored.
  • Gioskar Amaya, and Rashad Crawford each had one hit in the win.

On the Mound:

  •  I mentioned Erick Leal was good, what else is new?  Leal worked five innings, giving up two runs on six hits while walking one, and striking out four.
  • Ryan McNeil picked up a hold, he worked one inning, giving up one run on two hits.
  • Francisco Carrillo was outstanding today, he worked three scoreless innings to pick up his first save of the year.  Carrillo surrendered only one hit, struck out three over said three innings.

Myrtle Beach 4-30 Final

Full Box Score

Myrtle Beach looked like they had this one wrapped up before Wilmington struck for four runs in the bottom of the 8th to take this one 6-4.

At the Plate:

  • Mark Zagunis had a decent night, he was 1-for-4 with a triple, and an RBI.
  • Jacob Rogers has slowed down, but had a good game, he was 2-for-4 with his fourth double of the season, and a run scored.
  • Trey Martin has had a good start to his high-A career, he was 1-for-4 with a double, and an RBI in the loss.

On the Mound:

  • Daury Torrez is the definition of a pitcher that pitches to contact, he worked six innings, giving up two runs on six hits while walking none, and striking out one.
  • Josh Conway got roughed up in this one, he worked 1.1 innings, giving up three runs on three hits.
  • James Pugliese worked in and out of some trouble, he tossed two-thirds of an inning, giving up one run, unearned, on two hits.

 

Tennessee Smokies 4-30 Final

Full Box Score

The Smokies fell behind early in this one, and couldn’t fight all the way back as they fell to Birmingham 5-3.  Things got interesting late as Tennessee scored three times over the final four innings but their rally fell short.

At the Plate:

On the Mound:

  • Rob Zastryzny got the start but didn’t last very long, he worked one inning, giving up three runs on two hits while walking two, and striking out one.
  • Jeffry Antigua took over and was decent, he worked four innings, giving up two runs on five hits while walking one, and striking out one.
  • Michael Jensen was solid, he tossed two scoreless innings, giving up two hits while striking out two.
  • Starling Peralta was good as well, he worked a scoreless inning to keep the Smokies alive.

Iowa Cubs 4-30 Final

Full Box Score

Giving this Oklahoma City team thirteen innings worth of at bats is probably going to end bad, and it did for Iowa tonight.  The Cubs didn’t have much working offensively as they only pushed across two runs in the loss.

At the Plate:

  • Javier Baez returned to the lineup tonight, that’s definitely a good thing.  Baez was 1-for-6 with a double.
  • Christian Villanueva had a good night, he was 2-for-4 with a dinger, a walk, an RBI, and two runs scored.
  • John Andreoli was solid as well, he went 2-for-5, and is now hitting .261 on the season.

On the Mound:

  • Carlos Pimentel got the start, and was outstanding.  He worked six innings, giving up one run on just one hit while walking two, and striking out three.
  • Yoanner Negrin picked up a blown save tonight, he worked an inning, giving up one run on one hit.
  • Joe Ortiz was solid, he worked two scoreless innings, he surrendered one hit while walking two.
  • Blake Cooper worked a scoreless inning, he has a 2.31 ERA on the season.
  • Andres Santiago has been so good this year, he worked two scoreless innings, giving up two hits while walking three, and striking out two.
  • Michael Wagner took the loss tonight, he worked one inning, giving up two runs on two hits while walking three, and striking out two.

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