One of the joys of spring training is catching up with old friends. Check out this rogue’s gallery signing autographs for the Fergie Jenkins Foundation today at Cubs Park (Gary “The Sarge” Matthews, Bobby Dernier, and Lee Smith):
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Greetings from Cubs Park in Mesa. We’re excited to show off this new facility on our first telecast of the year today. Tom Ricketts, Rick Renteria, and Theo Epstein will join us and we want to thank WGN’s Dan Roan for volunteering to run around the park to see all the great attractions they have here. For everyone who is stuck in this never-ending winter, we hope a few hours of Cubs baseball in the Arizona sunshine will cure any winter blues.It’s a thrill to start the 67th season of Cubs baseball on WGN-TV. The Cubs young talent will be on full display throughout the spring and we’re looking forward to helping you get to know them.
Let’s play ball and have a great year.
Len and JD
Cubs pitchers and catchers report to Mesa tomorrow for the start of spring training. Today, the Cubs unveiled the new complex where the team will train, Dan Roan has the story from Arizona.
|WAR for Pitchers (?)
Well today is the final home game of my first year here in Chicago and I just want to give a big virtual high five to Cub fans and all the good people here at Wrigley who have made me feel so welcome. Win or lose, when the sun is shining and the Ivy is in, there is no better sporting venue in the land. I’m looking forward to an off-season of exploration here in the Windy City to take in all that this great town has to offer. Thanks to Len for all his help in helping me get acclimated to this new gig.
See you in the spring!
Keep the faith,
It is our final home game of the season. Kinda hard to believe. Usually, bad years for a baseball team are called “long” seasons, but I felt like this one went pretty fast. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older and EVERYTHING is going by too quickly.
Special thanks to our home TV crew on both WGN and CSN. We are fortunate to have such a hard-working group at Wrigley that collectively wants to put on the best baseball broadcast in the league every single day.
Having Wrigley Field as our backdrop certainly doesn’t hurt 81 days a year.
Also, what a first year for my new partner. JD stepped right into some pretty big shoes and instantly became a part of the family. I love that he and his family have made Chicago their year-round home and I sensed throughout the year that Cubs fans quickly grew accustomed to his style and sense of humor. We are lucky to have him.
* Although the Cubs are 6-10 versus Pittsburgh in 2013, they’ve split six games at Wrigley Field (3-3). However, the Pirates have not lost a season series at Wrigley since 2009 (3-5). They’re 18-13 in Chicago since 2010.
* After dropping two of three games to the Reds this weekend, the Pirates are tied with Cincinnati for second place in the NL Central, 2.0 games behind St. Louis. But Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are each 5.0 games ahead of Washington in the race for the two wild-card spots in the National League.
* The Cubs lost two of three games to Atlanta to fall to 3-9 over their past 12 games. At 65-91, the Cubs are assured of finishing at least 20 games below .50 for the third consecutive season, the first time they’ve done that since 1960-62.
* Going back to July 12, Charlie Morton is 0-2 with a 7.90 ERA over three starts versus St. Louis, but 6-0 with a 2.42 ERA in 10 starts against everyone else.
* Neil Walker has slugged 1.133 while connecting for three homers over his last four games. With a season total of 13 home runs, he joins Bill Mazeroski as the only Pirates second basemen to reach a dozen in four different years.
* Jeff Samardzija struck out eight in his most recent start at Milwaukee last Tuesday, raising his season total to 203. With a record of 8-12, he’ll be the first Cub to finish with a losing record despite fanning at least 200 since Long Tom Hughes in 1901 (10-23, 225 strikeouts).
We are going to go Cubs-centric for Stats Sunday the final two weeks and take a look at some career leader boards in some of the advanced stats we have featured this season.
This Sunday we focus on position players. Next Sunday, it’s pitching.
Thanks to the fine folks at Baseball-Reference.com for their great team leaderboard pages.
We start with a key link so you can explore on your own. For Cubs all-time batting leaders (top 10 lists), go to this page:
We found a lot of fun stuff here.
Keep in mind this disclaimer from Baseball-Reference.com: “1500 plate appearances required for career rate batting statistics.”
In 1929, Rogers Hornsby put up the greatest overall season in Cubs history among position players according to Wins Above Replacement with a 10.4 WAR.
Cap Anson compiled the most WAR among Cubs position players in his career with the team with 84.5 (Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg, Ernie Banks and Billy Williams round out the top 5).
The best defensive player in Cubs history in terms of accumulating Defensive WAR? Joe Tinker, whose 29.7 dWAR nearly doubles Billy Jurges’ 15.1.
P.S., While Tinker had the highest single-season dWAR in Cubs history with 4.3 in 1908, Darwin Barney put up the 2nd-most last year at 3.6 (tied with Tinker’s 1905 and 1906 seasons).
Your Cubs’ career leader in OBP? Ray Grimes at .418. Bill Madlock checks in at .397, good for 5th while Mark Grace just cracks the top 10 at .386.
Cubs’ career slugging percentage is particularly interesting in that several players of recent vintage are among the leaders. Hack Wilson (not of recent vintage) is the leader at .590. But then it’s Sammy Sosa (2nd at .569), Aramis Ramirez (3rd at .531), Derrek Lee (4th at .524), Andre Dawson (6th at .507), Billy Williams (7th at .503), Ernie Banks (8th at .500) and Alfonso Soriano (9th at .495).
In terms of OPS, one Cub all-time reached 1.000. That’s Hack Wilson at 1.002. Sammy Sosa is 2nd at .928.
Did you know only one Cub has ever had 100 extra-base hits in a season? Sammy Sosa amassed 103 in 2001. Derrek Lee came oh so close with 99 in his great season of 2005.
The only Cub with over 1,000 career extra-base hits is Ernie Banks with 1,009.
In Offensive Win %, which looks at the winning percentage of a team with 9 of that particular player batting against average pitching and defense, Hack Wilson again leads at .752. Bill Madlock is 6th at .703 with Billy Williams 7th at .701.
We have talked about stolen base percentage being a key number — it’s not so much about number of steals, but how successful you are at it. Eric Young is the Cubs’ all-time leader at 80.19%.
It’s a lot of fun to peruse Cubs’ history in the context of these “modern” stats. The one thing I take out of it is how great Bill Madlock was as a Cub. He was only here for 3 years (his 23 through 25-year-old seasons from 1974-76), but he won 2 batting titles and put up this slash line in 400 games: .336/.397/.475 for an OPS+ of 139. He finished his 15-year career at .305/.365/.442 with an OPS+ of 123, so his Cubs’ numbers were all better than what he put up everywhere else in a terrific career.
Next week to wrap up the season, we find out just where Fergie and Big Z and Three Finger Brown and Mad Dog stack up on the all-time Cubs’ pitching lists.