Cubs

Maddon: Castro creating 'good baseball karma' for himself

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Maddon: Castro creating 'good baseball karma' for himself

CINCINNATI — Starlin Castro respects 90.

The Cubs' All-Star shortstop is in the midst of another very good season, playing at a high level on a winning team for the first time in his career.

Castro is hitting .329 and has played a solid shortstop, including some highlight-reel plays of late. He had another "Web Gem" Sunday afternoon, diving to his right and making a throw from his knees to get Reds outfielder Brennan Boesch in the sixth inning.

[MORE: Jake Arrieta refuses to cave in, sets tone for Cubs]

But it actually was Castro's groundout in the ninth that really impressed manager Joe Maddon.

"How 'bout it?" Maddon said in reference to the spectacular play in the field. "And then even more so, the routine ground ball in his last AB, ran down to first base — that was outstanding. That moment bleeds into the rest of your game.

"Everything he's doing right now, I always believe in the complimentary effects of everything that we do. And if there's good baseball karma, he's created that for himself right now by the way he's gone about that business.

"More than anything he did, I loved that [running down the line] today."

[NBC SHOP: Buy a Starlin Castro jersey]

Castro has refused to look over his shoulder with the promotion of Addison Russell, who was shifted over to second base. 

Castro fully intends to stick at shortstop and has worked well with Russell at second, including a slick double play in Friday's game. Russell also had a highlight-reel play of his own, diving to his right and throwing out speed demon Billy Hamilton in Friday's win.

"I know he's a good defender, so the plays that he can make, he's going to make," Russell said of Castro. "The outstanding plays that we both make, that just comes with our ability. I think we both try to challenge ourselves."

How Cubs stack up, according to WAR, from 2015-19

How Cubs stack up, according to WAR, from 2015-19

The Cubs made the playoffs four times in five seasons under Joe Maddon, receiving contributions across the diamond from All-Stars and role players alike.

Some players, of course, had bigger impacts for Maddon's Cubs, even in smaller sample sizes. Jesse Chavez and Cole Hamels weren't Cubs for long, but the two 2018 trade deadline pickups helped the North Siders reach the postseason for a fourth straight year.

These are the top 25 players by WAR (wins above replacement) from the Maddon era, according to Baseball Reference.

Top 25 Cubs, according to WAR, from 2015-19

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How Ian Happ promotes mental health and other things to know about Cubs outfielder

How Ian Happ promotes mental health and other things to know about Cubs outfielder

It's kind of hard to believe 2020 is only Ian Happ's fourth season in the big leagues. The 25-year-old burst onto the scene with 24 home runs in 2017, and since has been through trials and tribulations, getting demoted to the minor leagues in 2019.

Whenever the 2020 season kicks off, Happ is in line for the starting center field job. Until then, here's a few things to know about him.

1. Happ attended University of Cincinnati from 2012-15, where he studied finance. He was a star on the field (2015 American Athletic Conference Player of the Year) and an exemplary student in the classroom (3.68 GPA, 2015 Academic All-American).

2. Happ is an avid golfer and is a 2 handicap, according to Golf Digest. He competed in the Straight Down Fall Classic in San Luis Obispo, Calif., the last two Novembers.

3. Happ serves as an honorary ambassador for First Tee Greater Chicago, which strives to introduce the game of golf to young people. The organization raised $23,000 at a January fundraiser Happ participated in.

4. In 2019, Happ and artist Patrick Vale started “Through My Eyes” — a three-piece artwork series capturing Wrigley Field from different perspectives. Proceeds go to the Happ Family Charitable Fund, which promotes mental health and wellness.

Happ lost his father, Keith, to brain cancer in 2015.

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