10 Best Games By A Cubs Player So Far

In Commentary And Analysis by dmick8927 Comments

We're only 31 games into the season, but I was curious for some unkown reason who had the best game of any player on the team. Win Probability Added (WPA) is the perfect stat for this. Below are the top 10 WPA's of the season for the Cubs.

10. Matt Garza, April 29th @ Phillies: The Cubs won 5-1 behind Garza's 7 inning, 1 hit performance. He also walked only 1 and struckout 10. This is the only time Garza is in the top 10, but this start wasn't even his best one of the season if we use Game Score. He has the top 2 game scores of the season for Cubs pitchers with an 84 in this one and an 85 on April 12th. WPA: .353

9. Jeff Samardzija, May 2nd @ Reds: The Cubs won this one 3-1 behind Samardzija's 7.2 innings. He allowed 3 hits and a run while walking 2 and striking out 7. WPA: .365

8. Jeff Samardzija, April 24th vs Cardinals: Samardzija out-pitched Adam Wainwright as the Cubs won 3-2. Samardzija threw 6.2 innings, allowed 4 hits, walked a couple and struckout 9. WPA: .368

7. Jeff Samardzija, April 8th vs Nationals: The Cubs beat Jordan Zimmerman and the Nationals 4-3. Samardzija nearly completed this game as he threw 8.2 innings, allowed 4 hits, 3 runs (only 1 earned), walked no one and struckout 8. WPA: .380

6. Ryan Dempster, May 3rd @ Reds: The 2nd night in the row the Cubs got a brilliant performance by a pitcher, but this time they lost. Dempster went 8 innings, didn't allow a run and allowed only 3 hits. He walked 1 and struckout 6. The Cubs led 3-0 entering the 9th and Carlos Marmol allowed 3 runs without recording an out. WPA: .380

5. Paul Maholm, May 9th vs Braves: Maholm has an ERA just over 4 and 4 wins on the season while Dempster has no wins and a league leading 1.02 ERA. Anyway, in this game Maholm was excellent as the Cubs beat the Braves 1-0. You remember this since it was the last game they played. He threw 7 innings, allowed 3 hits, no runs, 3 walks and struckout 3. WPA: .428

4. Alfonso Soriano, April 24th vs Cardinals: This is the same game as Samardzija's #8 ranking. Soriano was 3-5 in this one, but he ranks so high because his final hit was a walk-off one. WPA: .449

3. Bryan LaHair, April 24th vs Cardinals: This is the 3rd time this game has appeared in the top 10. LaHair was 2-4 with a walk and hit the game tying home run in the 9th inning. Since we know so many players have performed well in this game it's worth noting that this game also probably has some of the worst performances. WPA: .450

2. Ryan Dempster, April 5th vs Nationals: Dempster threw as well as you could hope on Opening Day as he threw 7 innings, allowed 5 hits and a run. He walked 1 and struckout 5. The Cubs took a 1-0 lead into the 8th and Dempster was relieved by Kerry Wood who blew the first of several blown saves for the Cubs this season. Carlos Marmol allowed a run in the 9th and the Cubs lost 2-1. This is the only game in the top 10 the Cubs lost. WPA: .505

<img style="" src="http://obstructedview.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/joe-mather001.jpg" alt="" title="

Mather celebrates his game-winning hit against the Cardinals

April 23rd vs Cardinals: Mather went 2-3 with a walk in this game, but the Cubs trailed 2-1 entering the bottom half of the 9th. After Jason Motte struckout Soriano, he walked LaHair and Geovany Soto. Clevenger pinch hit for Rafael Dolis and advanced the two baserunners on a groundout. With 2 outs, trailing by 1 and runners on 2nd and 3rd the Cubs had just a 23% chance of winning. Then Joe Mather singled to CF scoring both runs to give the Cubs the win. WPA: .756

As you can see, no performance compares to Mather's game-winning hit against the Cardinals. I was somewhat surprised to see that among the top 10 there were 7 pitchers. Then again, the Cubs offense has sucked and they've been all about starting pitching this season so it shouldn't have shocked me.

The worst 3 in WPA all belong to Carlos Marmol. In those 3 outings Marmol threw a combined 0.1 innings, allowed 4 hits and walked 6. 6 runs crossed the plate though only 4 were earned. He's lucky to not have given up more runs than he did. His WPA was -0.698 on May 3rd against the Reds, -0.640 on April 7th against the Nationals and -0.530 on April 24th (there's that game again) against the Cardinals. The 4th worst was Samardzija's start against the Marlins on April 19th (-0.431). Chris Volstad had the 5th worst performance on the team the very next day against the Reds (-0.397).

The 5 worst performances for a Cubs batter have been Steve Clevenger (4/17, -0.034), Joe Mather (4/15, -0.034), Jeff Baker (4/10, -0.034), Reed Johnson (4/19, -0.036) and Soto (5/9, -0.037).

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  1. josh

    @ Berselius:
    I want to believe it too, but I’m wondering what the chances really are that the Cubs are buyers at the trade deadline. If they have a lot of bankable talent at that point, they can stand pat and hope no one’s season collapses, trade them at their peak value, or buy some new talent and hope things don’t completely peter out.

    The last option seems to me to have finger-in-the-dam feel. Like by then if Bryan LaHair and Jeff Samardzija are struggling, and they bring in a new slugger and a new pitcher, they could start to tread water and never really gain any ground. Seems very risky.

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  2. Rice Cube

    I was toying with the idea (with the MLBTR blurb that the Phillies might shop Hamels and Victorino) that with the new CBA, if Hamels were to go to another team as a rental and then not extend with the new team, he’s no longer tied to compensation and so the Cubs don’t even have to cough up draft picks to sign him if they so choose. I hope lots of good potential free agents get traded in July (dying laughing)

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