Cubs

Fun with numbers at the Cubs' halfway mark

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Fun with numbers at the Cubs' halfway mark

The Cubs are currently at the exact halfway point in the 2012 season. They're on pace for a 62-100 record, which is nine games behind the 2011 team that finished 71-91.

Let's have some more fun with numbers:

2012 (Pace)

Runs scored: 596
Runs allowed: 738
Run differential: -142
AVGOBPSLG: .246.300.384
HR: 134
ERA: 4.37
Quality Starts: 84
WHIP: 1.37
Fielding percentage: .981
Errors: 112

2011 (Final)

Runs scored: 654
Runs allowed: 756
Run differential: -102
AVGOBPSLG: .256.314.401
HR: 148
ERA: 4.33
Quality Starts: 76
WHIP: 1.41
Fielding percentage: .978
Errors: 134

The 2012 Cubs appear to be pretty close pitching-wise, but they've improved a whole lot defensively over last season.

Offensively, Dale Sveum's squad appears to be a notch below Mike Quade's 2011 team. Anybody who's seen more than a couple games this season could attest to that. Losing Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena figured to have an impact there. Maybe a full season of Anthony Rizzo would have changed the 2012 pace a bit.

Offensive numbers (sorted by OPS)

Anthony Rizzo: 1.053
Bryan LaHair: .907
Alfonso Soriano: .808
David DeJesus: .753
Reed Johnson: .744
Starlin Castro: .733
Luis Valbuena: .696
Steve Clevenger: .693
Joe Mather: .683
Jeff Baker: .681
Darwin Barney: .680
Tony Campana: .613
Geovany Soto: .568

Anthony Rizzo will not keep this up. That OPS is out of this world and only Joey Votto (1.097) currently has a higher OPS among qualifiers in the Major Leagues.

Other notable offensive statistics:

--Castro is on pace for 192 hits and a .291 average. My guess is he turns it on in the second half and winds up over .300 with a second-straight 200 hit season.

--Soriano is on pace for 30 home runs and 92 RBI. Not bad numbers at all.

--LaHair, in his first full season in the big leagues, is on pace for 28 homers and 60 RBI. Pretty solid, though the RBI total is down for a guy that could approach 30 homers.

--Campana is on pace for 50 steals. If any of the Cubs veteran outfielders are dealt, Campy may actually reach that total, but as it stands right now, he is not getting enough playing time to net 25 more steals the rest of the way.

Pitching numbers (by ERA):

Manny Corpas: 1.54
Ryan Dempster: 2.11
James Russell: 2.27
Jairo Asencio: 2.84
Shawn Camp: 2.93
Travis Wood: 3.05
Matt Garza: 4.01
Paul Maholm: 4.62
Carlos Marmol: 4.74
Jeff Samardzija: 4.77
Rafael Dolis: 6.75
Casey Coleman: 7.32
Chris Volstad: 7.94

Corpas and Asencio have been good additions to the bullpen, though Asencio's 1.58 WHIP indicates his ERA probably won't stay below 3.00 for long.

--Camp is on pace for 86 innings. Talk about a rubber arm.

--Wood has been a revelation in the starting rotation. Unless he completely tanks, figure to see him in the rotation for the rest of the season. The Cubs need to see what they have in him and if it's anything like what he's shown in the first half, Wood may be a piece for the future.

--Samardzija had a horrible June, which help explain his inflated numbers. He is on pace for more than 188 innings. Given the Cubs are in the midst of a lost season, they probably won't let his innings total climb that high. Though, if he's pitching well enough, he may force their hand.

--Garza's 1.16 WHIP is star-worthy, but his 4.01 ERA leaves a little to be desired. He's on pace for only 160 strikeouts and 179.1 innings, but he has the first start of the second half Thursday night in Atlanta.

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

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USA TODAY

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

MESA, Ariz. — “That’s last year, don’t want to talk about that.”

In other words, Addison Russell is so over 2017.

The Cubs shortstop went through a lot last year. He dealt with injuries that affected his foot and shoulder. He had a well-documented off-the-field issue involving an accusation of domestic abuse, which sparked an investigation by Major League Baseball. And then came the trade speculation.

The hot stove season rarely leaves any player completely out of online trade discussion. But after Theo Epstein admitted there was a possibility the Cubs could trade away one or more young position players to bolster the starting rotation, well, Russell’s name came up.

And he saw it.

“There was a lot of trade talk,” Russell said Saturday. “My initial thoughts were, I hope it doesn’t happen, but wherever I go, I’m going to try to bring what I bring to the table here. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m happy being in a Cubs uniform, I want to be in a Cubs uniform, for sure. But there was some talk out there. If I got traded, then I got traded, but that’s not the case.”

No, it’s not, as the Cubs solved those pitching questions with free-agent spending, bringing in Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood to replace the departed Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. It means Russell, along with oft-discussed names like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Javy Baez, are all still Cubs.

While the outside world might have expected one of those guys to be moved in some sort of blockbuster trade for Chris Archer or some other All-Star arm, the Cubs’ young core remains intact, another reason why they’re as much a favorite to win the World Series as any team out there.

“I’m really not surprised. The core is still here. Who would want to break that up? It’s a beautiful thing,” Russell said. “Javy and I in the middle. Schwarber, sometimes playing catcher but mainly outfield. And then (Kris Bryant) over there in the hot corner, and of course (Anthony) Rizzo at first. You’ve got a Gold Glover in right field (Jason Heyward). It’s really hard to break that up.

“When you do break that down on paper, we’ve got a lineup that could stack up with the best.”

This winter has been about moving on for Russell, who said he’s spent months working to strengthen his foot and shoulder after they limited him to 110 games last season, the fewest he played in his first three big league campaigns.

And so for Russell, the formula for returning to his 2016 levels of offensive aptitude isn’t a difficult one: stay on the field.

“Especially with the injuries, I definitely wanted to showcase some more of my talent last year than I displayed,” Russell said. “So going into this year, it’s mainly just keeping a good mental — just staying level headed. And also staying healthy and producing and being out there on the field.

“Next step for me, really just staying out there on the field. I really want to see what I can do as far as helping the team if I can stay healthy for a full season. I think if I just stay out there on the field, I’m going to produce.”

While the decrease in being on the field meant lower numbers from a “counting” standpoint — the drop from 21 homers in 2016 to 12 last year, the drop from 95 RBIs to 43 can in part be attributed to the lower number of games — certain rate stats looked different, too. His on-base percentage dropped from .321 in 2016 to .304 last year.

Russell also struggled during the postseason, picking up just six hits in 36 plate appearances in series against the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 13 times in 10 postseason games.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. That World Series hangover was team-wide throughout the first half of the season. And even though the Cubs scored 824 runs during the regular season, the second most in the National League and the fourth most in baseball, plenty of guys had their offensive struggles: Schwarber, Heyward and Ben Zobrist, to name a few.

“You can’t take anything for granted. So whenever you win a World Series or you do something good, you just have to live in the moment,” Russell said. “It was a tough season last year because we were coming off winning the World Series and the World Series hangover and all that. This year, we had a couple months off, a couple extra weeks off, and I think a lot of guys took advantage of that. I know I did. And now that we’re here in spring training, we’re going to get back at it.”

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

High School Lites had five matchups between top-25 teams on Friday night as the Public League Playoff semifinals and big matchups in the CSL South, Catholic League Blue and SouthWest Suburban Blue took shape.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for the latest news and scores for IHSA basketball.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Palatine's Eduardo Orozco

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Maine West girls basketball

Highlights

No. 1 Simeon holds off No. 4 Whitney Young

No. 2 Orr gets revenge on No. 3 Curie

No. 9 New Trier takes down No. 6 Evanston

No. 8 Fenwick handles No. 10 Loyola Academy

No. 23 Homewood-Flossmoor rallies past No. 18 Bolingbrook

Oswego East upsets No. 20 Joliet Central

Andrew shuts down Thornridge

Sandburg tops Lockport in OT

Richards runs by Shepard

Maine West captures second straight girls basketball regional title