WARR baseball writer Kevin Luchansky writes about the Cubs and the White Sox each week
Also, check out Kevin’s daily baseball betting picks on NorthSideWire.
As the Cubs finish up their unsuccessful three-game set in Arizona against the lowly Diamondbacks this afternoon, let’s take a look back at the half-season that has been and compare it against some of the Cubs’ more recent stats at the break.
Cubs All-Star break records:
2013 All-Star Break stats — 27 doubles, 13 home runs, 45 runs scored, 54 runs batted in, 71 strikeouts, 41 walks, and a .241 batting average.
2014 All-Star Break stats — 15 doubles, 20 home runs, 62 runs scored, 49 runs batted in, 75 strikeouts, 53 walks, and a .270 batting average. 3.4 WAR
Rizzo still has a ways to go in slashing the number of times he strikes out, but the batting average improvement of 39 points and +7 improvement in the long ball category is exactly what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were hoping for. Rizzo doesn’t ever project for a high average, but if he can sit somewhere in the .270-.280 range with 30+ home runs, he’ll be an above-average middle of the lineup cog for years to come.
2013 All-Star break stats — 21 doubles, 6 home runs, 44 runs scored, 29 runs batted in, 72 strikeouts, 15 walks and a .245 batting average.
2014 All-Star break stats — 26 doubles, 11 home runs, 43 runs scored, 52 runs batted in, 69 strikeouts, 25 walks and a .276 batting average. 1.8 WAR
Castro’s re-emergence is evident from his improved batting average and power, but you can see it in his body language, too. If the Cubs can find more offensive pieces to couple with Castro and Rizzo, those run and runs batted in totals are sure to rise, even if the short stop’s average just sits around the .275 mark.
2013 All-Star break stats — 19 doubles, 11 home runs, 35 runs scored, 34 driven in, 19 walks, 43 strikeouts and a .269 batting average.
2014 All-Star break stats — 10 doubles, 5 home runs, 26 runs scored, 31 runs batted in, 15 walks, 68 strikeouts, and a .204 batting average. -0.5 WAR
It’s just half a season, but a drop of 65 points in batting average is some serious regression. Though they may not have gotten as much as they wanted and sure, hindsight is 20/20, but I’m almost positive the Cubs front office staff is kicking themselves for not dealing Schierholtz at the deadline last year. If his cold streak continues, I hope to see some of his at-bats given away to an upcoming minor leaguer or two.
The South Siders have done a better job coming out of the break, winning two one-run battles against Houston at home. As they look to wrap up the sweep today against the Astros, let’s take a look back at few players’ first halves and how they compare to recent season’s numbers.
Sox All-Star break records:
2012: 47-38 (1st place)
2013: 37-55 (5th)
2014: 45-51 (4th)
2013 All-Star Break stats — 24 doubles, 1 home run, 36 runs scored, 21 runs batted in, 12 walks, 46 strikeouts and a .286 batting average.
2014 All-Star Break stats — 15 doubles, 8 home runs, 45 runs scored, 41 runs batted in, 17 walks, 51 strikeouts and a .282 batting average.
Alexei stands with eerily similar numbers to his 2013 season with the exception of a notable jump in home runs and a few less doubles, which is to be expected when a few would-be doubles sail over the fence for home runs. Over the course of his career, Ramirez has more often than not performed better in the first half of the season, so it will be interesting to see if he can keep up his All-Star worthy first half as the Sox vie for a potential Wild Card run, currently standing only 5.5 games out of the second WC spot.
2013 All-Star break stats — 120 innings pitched, 2.85 earned run average, 94 hits, 11 home runs allowed, 131 strikeouts and an opponent batting average of .212.
2014 All-Star break stats — 95 innings pitched, 2.08 ERA, 64 hits, 6 home runs allowed, 102 strikeouts and an opponent batting average of .188.
Damn, dont hurt ’em, Chris. Despite missing a handful of starts with an injury, Sale recorded nearly as many strikeouts as he did at the break last season all while slashing home runs and hits allowed and lowering his ERA by a staggering 77 points. It almost goes without saying, but the Sox will need a healthy Sale through the stretch run. He doesn’t have a long history of injuries, but that wiry frame and whip-like delivery really scare me when thinking long term.
2013 All-star break stats — 9 doubles, 24 home runs, 41 runs scored, 60 runs batted in, 46 walks, 108 strikeouts and a .213 batting average.
2014 All-star break stats — 14 doubles, 14 home runs, 33 runs scored, 36 runs driven in, 56 walks, 100 strikeouts and a .224 batting average.
Not really drawing comparisons here to 2013, just highlighting the regression and overall decline that Dunn has experienced. Dunn was always a strikeout victim, but you get what you pay for and the Sox can live with high strikeout totals if the power numbers mirror them well. Fact is, they haven’t been there, and two areas — power and plate discipline — seem to be trending in the wrong directions.
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