Saturday, May 19, 2007

Turns out, managers can't hit or pitch after all

If you're a Cub fan, you may have entered this season under the impression that, with Dusty Baker gone, your franchise would accomplish great things. With Lou here, the team would excel. Or so you were led to believe. Sadly - but predictably, nonetheless - this is not the case. The Cubs are 20-21 right now. This record is highly deceiving. Of the Cubs 20 wins, 12 came against the Pirates, Reds, Cardinals, and Nationals - teams that are a combined 66-98, which is a .402 winning percentage.

Whether or not you buy into this 'strength of schedule' argument, all you really need to do is look at the Cubs lineup. The Cubs have exactly one guy with an average over .300 - his name is Derrick Lee, who, as you may be aware, is currently injured. Last year, the Cubs had five guys with 180+ AB's and an OBP over .300. By comparison, the Marlins had nine regulars with OBP's over .300. The Pirates had 10. It's really not a big feat to get half of your lineup over the .300 mark for on base %, but the Cubs barely did it. Why is this relevant? Back to our first point. Cubs Fan was led to believe that, despite the fact that only one major offensive change was made - the addition of Alfonso Soriano and his .326 career OBP - the team was good to go for the year. Unfortunately, you cannot win games if you cannot get on base. Last year, the Cubs finished 29th in OBP as a team, just 5 thousandths of a point above the Devil Rays. They had a team OBP of .319. This translates into a difference of about 500 plate appearances throughout the year between a team with a good OBP and a bad one. This turns out to be about 3 extra plate appearances a game. Which, of course, amounts to just about one extra inning a game. Imagine how crippled your offense would be if, as your team was leaving the field to go up to bat, the umps told them to head back out there - your team's half of the inning was going to be skipped. This is essentially what happens to the Cubs every game. To make matters worse, the Cubs aren't what you would call efficient at the plate either - they were ranked #21 in total bases last year.

The moral of the story is, as usual, that only hitting begets runs. Managers do not beget runs. Poorly spent money does not beget runs. A couple bargain pitchers do not beget runs. I stress this point because we have seen it recently with the Blue Jays, the Mariners, and whoever else you want to accuse of being run deprived. In most cases, if you cannot put a guy on base, you're not going to bring him home.

Ironically enough, my impetus for writing this post was watching Jason Marquis - who I was hoping to give me a few good points in my fantasy matchup, go up 5-3 on the White Sox, only to give up two more runs and leave the game 5-5. To make matters worse, the opposing team was starting Vazquez, who was set to win the game for the White Sox. And then the Cubs go and win it, 11-6. Make of that what you will.

What do you mean, Baker's out? - October 17th, 2006

No comments: