Where We Stand Now

In Commentary And Analysis by berselius61 Comments

I'm bringing back this feature from the olden days…if only because we need a new post. I'm stealing this format mostly from the 2015 version of this post, which credits shawndgoldman for the original regular feature.

Record: 43-45, 5.5 games back of the Brewers and tied with the Cardinals for second place in this shitshow of a division.

The actual record is what’s most important, but runs scored and runs allowed often reflect a team’s actual talent better and do a better job at predicting rest of season wins.

Thankfully for those like me who are lazy, Baseball Prospectus calculates a few different winning percentages.

1st Order Winning Percentage is the team’s Pythagorean record. It’s based on actual runs scored and allowed.

The Cubs 1st Order Winning Percentage is .500. They’ve scored 399 runs and allowed 399 runs. That’s a 44-44 record. The Brewers are at the top at .550, 5 games ahead of the Cubs. The Cardinals also have a better win percentage than the Cubs, at .515 and 1.5 games up.

2nd Order Winning Percentage is based on projected runs scored and allowed. The projected totals are based on the team’s underlying stats. It’s an attempt to rid the team of any good or bad luck runs that may have scored by them or their opponent.

The Cubs 2nd Order Winning Percentage is .532, which is good for a 47-41 record, which is the best in the division by this metric. The Cardinals are right behind at .527 and the Brewers are at .510, showing that BP still has a little skepticism there. But wins in the bank are wins in the bank.

3rd Order Winning Percentage is like the previous one, but it adjusts for quality of the team’s opponents, home park, and league difficulty.

This one is the most thorough of the three and the Cubs fare the second best here at .533. The Cardinals are at .538, just ahead of the Cubs, and the Brewers are at .503.

Baseball Prospectus’ Playoff Odds Report uses the current record and rest of season PECOTA projections to calculate the team’s record at the end of the year. The Cubs finish at 83.3 wins while the Brewers win 84.8 and the Cardinals 81.3. Yeesh. More importantly, the simulations currently give the Cubs a 31% chance of winning the division (let's not kid ourselves with the wild card for any of these teams). The Brewers are at 47.6% and the Cards are at 16.5%. To be honest, despite the Brewers lead, after seeing these numbers I'm most worried about the Cardinals because Cardinals.

538's Playoff projector has the Cubs pegged at 83 wins and a 38% chance to make the playoffs.

The top player by bWAR* is Kris Bryant (3.0), with Anthony Rizzo (2.9) and Willson Contreras (2.1) at place and show. I'm guessing Jon Lester was up there until that last start, which knocked him all the way down to below replacement level on b-ref's formulation. Joining him are Jake Arrieta and John Lackey, who are both at or below replacement level. This is a year indeed. Luckily for Kyle Schwarber, Brett Anderson still holds the title for LVP through the first 'half'.

*fangraphs went down as I was writing this, because of course

There's not a lot to love in the stats for this year other than Bryant being Bryant. The FO has pretty much signaled that they are standing pat, though I would not be surprised to see them flip a relatively big name (not named Bryzzo) for a cost-controlled arm if they find the right deal. Last year's stats still exist too, and there's plenty of reason to believe in  positive regression at least on the position player side. The pitching I am much less sanguine about. They might take a page from the Yankees and trade Davis, but it's not like the Cubs have Dellin Betances hanging around like the Yankees did. As much as I like Edwards, I don't know if that's where you want to hang your hat. Maybe they can get something better from the comp pick, assuming I still remember how the CBA works.

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  1. Perkins

    Can’t remember the odds of winning the division, but Fangraphs had the Cubs projected for something like 85.6 wins and the Brewers for 82.4. Cardinals around 81, I think.

    That’s probably doable if Hendricks comes back effective, Lackey doesn’t start another game, and they acquire Gray or Archer.

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  2. Perkins

    dmick89,

    If the Cubs made the playoffs with ~83 wins and then got shit hot and won another World Series, I would (dying laughing) for the entire offseason. Wasn’t that how Ryno always said he expected them to win it in the first place?

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  3. dmick89

    Perkins,

    Yeah and isn’t that exactly what the 2006 Cardinals did? To their credit, they were arguably the best team in baseball in 2004 and 2005 so I remember thinking they deserved it anyway. For some reason I think they won 85.

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  4. Perkins

    dmick89,

    They won 83 in 2006, but they won a combined 205 games in 2004-5, so I guess it balances out.

    If the Cubs somehow pull off a World Series after this shitpile of a regular season, they’ll have finally usurped the Cardinals Devil Magic(TM). (dying laughing)

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  5. dmick89

    @cerulean — I don’t think this team is anywhere near as capable of winning 50 after the break as the 2015 team. That team could pitch. Arrieta was unhittable and after the first couple months Lester was really good. Hammel was his usual self. Great first half and not so great in the second. Hendricks had a sub 4 ERA (I believe) and in the bullpen Rondon was awesome. Strop was great. Grimm was fairly dominating and they got important contributions from the likes of Clayton Richard as a starter and reliever.

    Could they win 50? Sure, but it’s probably as likely as them winning 30. Maybe even less likely if they don’t get a healthy and productive Hendricks back soon.

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  6. cerulean

    dmick89,

    Arrieta had the most unbelievable second half of any pitcher in baseball history—at least by some metrics. A bunch of unproven rookies lead the team. That’s pretty remarkable. That’s why I say it’s more likely that this team wins that many after the break than that team did, ballparking 20:1 odds instead of 33:1. They have done it before. That literally means that we should update our prior beliefs.

    Those probabilities come out of my ass. If you don’t like them, I have others. —Al

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  7. cerulean

    I am still on the trade Davis train for Robles and Fedde. If they could also trade Happ and Alzolay and Clifton for Fulmer, or maybe Gray and Doolittle, I would probably do it. But I am also at the point where I would rather keep Happ over Schwarber—even though Schwarber hasn’t been terrible on defense and I still believe his bat is tremendous. He just fits better in the AL. Meanwhile, Happ can handle center well enough.

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  8. cerulean

    I think it’s time for us to start touting Jason Vosler. He is putting the ball in the air—15 homers, 1 GIDP with an OBA a hundred points higher than is decent AVG. Maybe he can net the team another Mike Montgomery.

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  9. cerulean

    dmick89,

    We need to do a TRADEOFF!

    Who do you trade?

    Happ or Jimenez?
    Jimenez or Schwarber?
    Schwarber or Russell?
    Russell or Baez?
    Baez or Cease?
    Cease or Happ?
    Happ or Schwarber?
    Schwarber or Baez?
    Baez or Happ?
    Jimenez or Russell?
    Russell or Happ?

    …or just rank them.

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  10. uncle dave

    I think that there’s room to both rebuild and compete given the craptacular nature of the NL Central. If you can swing a deal for Gray and Doolittle (who has a couple of cheap-ish options left on his deal and is currently pitching about as well as Davis), you can more easily ship out Davis and maybe even Lackey or Arrieta to grab some more young talent.

    I know they keep saying he’s untouchable, but I can’t help but drool over what you might be able to get back for Schwarber. I’d hate to lose the bat, but he’s gotta really mash to be worth keeping him in LF over the long term, especially with how big guys tend to age.

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  11. dmick89

    cerulean: Who do you trade?

    Happ or Jimenez? Jimenez (Happ is already at the MLB level and producing)
    Jimenez or Schwarber? Schwarber
    Schwarber or Russell? Russell
    Russell or Baez? Baez (Russell is worth more though)
    Baez or Cease? Baez
    Cease or Happ? Cease (same thing I said for the first one)
    Happ or Schwarber? Schwarber
    Schwarber or Baez? Baez
    Baez or Happ? Baez (no contest)
    Jimenez or Russell? Russell
    Russell or Happ? Russell (no contest)

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  12. cerulean

    dmick89,

    So from most willing to least willing to deal:

    Baez
    Russell
    Schwarber
    Cease
    Jimenez
    Happ

    Interesting.

    I would go:

    Cease
    Schwarber
    Happ
    Russell
    Baez
    Jimenez

    But really, I think all of them are on the same level when you add up the risk and reward, so maybe it comes down to who they can get the most for. Cease, though, is the least valuable because all pitching prospects are Trey McNutt*. Baez is the least valuable position player because he has the most service time, his bat is the streakiest, and versatility is not valued the way it should be. But Russell still looks injured and has those domestic violence allegations that may make him even less valuable right now. Happ is playing out of his mind, so he probably has the most value, but he isn’t quite Kris Bryant. Schwarber is Schwarber—but it feels like they would be selling low. Jimenez might be Stanton or Judge. How the fuck do you trade that?

    *Until they reach the majors, in which case they become Mark Prior.

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  13. myles

    cerulean:
    dmick89,

    We need to do a TRADEOFF!

    Who do you trade?

    Happ or Jimenez? Jimenez
    Jimenez or Schwarber? Jimenez
    Schwarber or Russell? Schwarber
    Russell or Baez? Baez
    Baez or Cease? Baez
    Cease or Happ? Cease
    Happ or Schwarber? Schwarber
    Schwarber or Baez? Schwarber
    Baez or Happ? Baez
    Jimenez or Russell? Jimenez
    Russell or Happ? Russell

    …or just rank them.

    Least want to trade to most ->
    Happ/Cease/Russell/Baez/Schwarber/Jimenez

      Quote  Reply

  14. cerulean

    myles,

    Because they really are a toss up. If I change the perspective slightly, Jimenez is the one I am most likely to trade and Cease is the least, for the very same justifications (dying laughing)

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  15. cerulean

    myles,

    The 2015 playoffs shows how good Soler could be—he was the only one hitting against the Mets. He just is never healthy. I agree with the comp, which is why I compare him to Stanton and Judge.

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  16. cerulean

    Fangraphs is still down. I wonder if they or their host are being hacked.

    EDIT: Nevermind. I think that was my cache.

      Quote  Reply

  17. dmick89

    I have Baez at the top because the guy is mostly useless on a team that’s not winning 90 or more games. It’s hard to argue that he should be starting any games when a righty is on the mound the rest of the way if the Cubs want to get back in this one. Since that’s most of the games, he’s the easiest piece to trade at the MLB level for me.

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  18. cerulean

    dmick89,

    Is there a player more jawdroppingly* entertaining than Javy Baez on this team?

    *This clusterfuck of a word might be the best description of Baez ever. Whatever he does, it’s as dumbfounding as “jawdroppingly”.

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  19. dmick89

    cerulean:
    dmick89,

    Is there a player more jawdroppingly* entertaining than Javy Baez on this team?

    Probably not.

    Is there a player more jawdroppingly frustrating than Javy Baez on this team?

    There are only so many pitches ten feet outside that I can watch him try to pull 450 feet.

      Quote  Reply

  20. myles

    If 10 years ago you told me that not only was Kid Rock running for Senate, but that he wouldn’t be close to the worst member of our US government, I’d have told you were insane.

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  21. Edwin

    Apparently there’s a lawsuit that argues that Trump blocking people on Twitter is unconstitutional. It’s an interesting argument.

      Quote  Reply

  22. dmick89

    Edwin,

    I saw that awhile back. It should be since he’s using twitter to argue in favor of certain policies. If he was just posting pictures of his dog and talking gardening tips with people, I wouldn’t see how it could win. He’s clearly using it for political purposes so I think it should be a slam dunk.

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  23. Perkins

    Clayton Kershaw has an opt out after 2018. What are the odds another team could convince him to leave LA? I assume minimal, but I’m also imagining the Cubs could drive a literal truck full of money to his house once their current TV deals expire and they launch their own network.

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  24. Rizzo the Rat

    Honestly, I think it would make more sense to trade Happ than to trade, e.g., Baez. Happ is performing better than expected and may never be as valuable on the trade market as he is now. Not that I’d be happy to see him go, but in trading you want to sell high.

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  25. dmick89

    Rizzo the Rat,

    Except Happ is much more likely to play a bigger role in the success this team has this year or after. I’m willing to make some trades to get better in the future, but I’m not sure I want to trade away a 22 year old who is having a lot of success at the MLB level.

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  26. dmick89

    Myles,

    I think it comes down the Nationals and Yankees, maybe the Red Sox. I’ll be surprised if the Cubs are even involved. I could also see the Giants going after him, but I think that’s about it.

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  27. Ryno

    Perkins,

    That’s what I expected, just because a season like 2016 seemed so improbable. The thought of following the Cubs as the best team in baseball for six+ months and reaching the apex was too abstract.

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  28. Perkins

    Now if the Cubs trade Davis, their farm system could even come out ahead.

    Let’s hope this means we don’t see any more Eddie Butler starts in 2017.

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  29. cerulean

    Perkins:
    Now if the Cubs trade Davis, their farm system could even come out ahead.

    Let’s hope this means wedon’t see any more Eddie Butler starts in 2017.

    This. So much.

      Quote  Reply

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