It's currently December 31st, and it's really just hitting me that we're about to start a whole new decade. It's really easy to get reflective on New Years Eve, when the next day promises a fresh start! So, since most of us agree that 2019 was a disappointing Cubs year I thought I'd look back over the year but focus really only on the numbers. Because numbers don't lie, but sometimes our eyes or memories do.
Want a good example of that?
I posted this poll yesterday:
There are 48 minutes left and still not a single right answer!
There were 18 pickoffs by Cubs Pitchers and Catchers and if the Twitter poll had allowed I would have listed the below 6 names.
Most of you thought Professor Pickoff led the team, but he only had 3 (and that was tied with Caratini)! Nope, the most number of pickoffs by a Cubs pitcher or catcher in 2019 was 4! Jose Quintana aka #KillaQ led the team!
The 17 Twitter votes that went to Willson Contreras were probably thinking about the 25 opponents caught stealing. A whopping 64% or 16 were caught by Willson Contreras, which isn't surprising with his super fast pop time!
So what else are we maybe mistaken about from 2019? Let's dig in!
67 -that’s the number of players that arrived in Mesa with the same goal on February 17, 2019. They all wanted to make the big league team. In total 52 players would end up playing in The Show.
The top 12 players per Baseball Reference combined for 35.1. WAR.
Anyone else pleasantly surprised to see Heyward and Kintzler pictured? Maybe a little shocked not to see Lester or Zobrist?
It's probably no surprise to anyone that Joe Maddon was the oldest Cub with his 65 years and Nico Hoerner is obviously the youngest Cub at 21, but who actually expected to meet Nico this year?
The surprise call up of Nico illustrates how injuries affected the team in 2019, but like other teams under Maddon's watch they remained flexible and versatile. 9 players that played 4 or more positions: Bote (3B-2B-SS-RF), Bryant (3B-RF-LF-1B-DH), Caratini (C-1B-3B-P), Contreras (C-RF-1B-LF-DH), Descalso (2B-3B-1B-P-DH), Garcia (2B-LF-RF-DH), Happ (2B-CF-3B-LF-1B-RF), and Kemp (2B-LF-RF-CF) . Even Zobrist who only was able to play in 47 games this year still managed to play 6 positions including pitcher! (2B-RF-LF-SS-P-DH).
Guys, one thing I was surprised to realize this year was how old the Cubs are getting. I'm not saying that's a bad thing of course, but 29 average age of the 52 players on the 2019 Chicago Cubs Roster both by mean and mode.
When watching games this year did you realize that 3 Cubs players all wore the same number jersey? Jersey number 38 was worn by Montgomery, Maldonado, and Wieck. Maybe they are all similar sizes and it was easy to share?
But do you know who definitely can not share? At 6' 9" Brad Wieck is the tallest player on the Chicago Cubs roster and that makes him 15 inches taller than Tony Kemp! (Somebody please tweet me a pic of these two standing next to each other!!!) Kemp took jersey number 4 last worn by Mike Freeman.
Let's take a moment to look at roster construction. Did you realize 11 of the 2019 Cubs were acquired in the amateur draft?
And I know that #CheapRicketts is a popular narrative. But the Cubs have 10 players making an 8 figure salary!
Okay so let's dig into some of the really fun stuff. The Cubs hit a lot of home runs in fact they hit a total of 256.
They actually had 8 different players that hit a Grand Slam! Video below of my favorite one ;)
There were 6 walk off wins and twice the Cubs played until 15 innings (April 28th and May 11th).
Cubs pitchers only had 1 home run this year, but of course it was by Jon Lester!!
Did you know that Kyle Schwarber had only played in 453 games when he hit his 100th home run? And in 2019 he hit a total of 38. That was his career best and he led the Cubs team.
Do you think Schwarber can catch up to Anthony Rizzo who has 217 home runs as a Cub?
They weren't the only prolific Cubs sluggers since the team had 11 players with double digit home run totals. Oddly enough 3 players had 11 homeruns each.
The Cubs offense was disappointing at times, but they had 10 players that had a wRC+ over 100. I know I'm always happy to see Heyward on a list like this one!
Nicholas Castellanos led the team with a .321 batting average so it's easy to see why Cubs fans are keeping his fingers crossed for his return.
The Cubs scored a total of 814 runs this year and Kris Bryant scored 108 of them. It was nice to see Kris Bryant leading the team in this stat category again after a not so great 2018 season. And the number of runs is a pretty special number too, no?
The Cubs had 783 total RBI this year (my favorite stat don't @ me!) and was led once again by Anthony Rizzo. This however was the first time since 2014 that he didn't have triple digits. I'll be interested to see what 2020 brings especially if he will once again prove he's the
if David Ross decides use him as lead off.
Oh and I wanted to give a special shout out to the Cubs pitchers who batted in 23 this year. Lester had the most with 6, but Hendricks wasn't far behind him with 5!
Heyward and Baez led the team with 4 triples each, with 26 total recorded.
You probably aren't surprised either that those two were the most prolific base stealers. The team had 45 total and Heyward had 8 and Baez had 11. Of course Baez had the smoothest slides. But do you know who had 5 SB's each? Bote and Rizzo! See I told you Rizzo would probably make a good lead off hitter!
Speaking of Rizzo, this year he was hit by a pitch 27 times. That's the same amount of HBP's that were dished out by Darvish, Hendricks and Hamels combined! The wildest relief pitcher with 7 HBPs? Steve Cishek! He always seemed like such a gentleman to me!
Do you know how many times Javier Baez was hit by a pitch? 0. C'mon Javy, start taking one for the team to boost your OBP!
Javy might not want to be hit but we all know Rizzo doesn't mind. He's been hit 145 times in his career. That's good for 2nd amongst active players.
When Cubs pitchers weren't hitting batters they were striking them out. 1444 times to be exact!
Strikeout leader was Yu Darvish with 229.
That's probably not too surprising though since Yu Darvish uses 10 different pitches!
Do you remember the game on May 3rd when Kyle Hendricks only needed 81 pitches to shut down the Cardinals? (Probably my favorite game of the year!).
Cyle wasn't the only one shutting down opponents as the Cubs as a team did it 10 times this year against opposing teams.
Can you name all the Cubs catchers from 2019? There were 6!
Of course Kyle Schwarber is only to be used in the case of an emergency. Probably because the team might miss his 215 put outs from LF. That number is 5th best on the team right behind Heyward's 247 but of course trailing Rizzo's 1140!
Were you able to go to a game at Wrigley this year? 3,094,865 tickets were sold! That makes an average of 38,208 for each home crowd.
And here is the most important stat of all: 84 is the number of W flags flown in 2019. 51 times Go Cubs Go was sung because the win was at Wrigley. Those numbers might not be the number you wanted, but take a moment and think about the joy in every win. You have to admit that sometimes 2019 was fun.
Happy New Year!!!! I'm excited for 2020!