Cubs

MLB Power Rankings: Surging Astros not No. 1...yet

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MLB Power Rankings: Surging Astros not No. 1...yet

May is here and with it comes the biggest shocker of them all - the Houston Astros are a good team, you guys. Like, a REALLY good team. A 10-game winning streak was enough to bump Houston up to No. 2, but not enough to overcome the rallying St. Louis Cardinals, who retain the top spot even without Adam Wainwright.

With that comes another week of MLB Power Rankings from CSNChicago.com's Tony Andracki and JJ Stankevitz. Stay tuned for updated rankings every Monday throughout the 2015 campaign. Here's where we're at so far: Preseason rankings | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3

Rank Team
Last Week Comment
1 1

Matt Carpenter (14 2Bs, only 15 Ks) leading the charge as they once again rally following key injury.

2   11

They’re winners of 10 in a row and are projected by FanGraphs to finish with the most wins in the AL West (85). If they can add one more starter during the season, yeah, I’m buying them as a playoff contender. 

3   5

Through 80 2/3 innings, their bullpen has an ERA of 1.00. 

4   4

On a four-game winning streak as Clayton Kershaw goes for win No. 100 Monday night.

5 10

Relievers Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller have combined for 48 strikeouts in 28 innings. 

6   2

Mets have fallen back to Earth a bit, dropping three straight series.

7 3

It’s still way too early, but for the first month of they season they’ve easily won the Yoenis Cespedes-Rick Porcello trade. 

8 6

They're so hot and cold - lost 7 of 8 before sweeping Colorado over the weekend.

9 8

Did you actually think the young guys would just have success without struggles?

10   17

Losing Ben Zobrist for four-to-six weeks is a tough blow. 

11   9

Does it help them sleep at night to know they just dropped three straight one-run, extra-inning games to the Cardinals? Probably not...

12   15

Did well to take two of three from Tampa in a “home” series at the Trop over the weekend. 

13 18

They've won 5 of 6 and actually seem to be hitting their stride.

14 12

Matt Moore continues working his way back from Tommy John and could be an awfully strong mid-season addition barring a setback. 

15 21

Dee Gordon leads Major League Baseball in WAR. I repeate: Dee Gordon leads Major League Baseball in WAR.

16 14

Jose Bautista won’t need a stint on the disabled list, which is welcome news for the Blue Jays and anyone who likes titanic home runs. 

17 16

Is Jered Weaver toast? His already-slow fastball is down to averaging 83.1 mph this year and he’s been rocked in six starts (6.29 ERA, eight home runs). 

18 26

Over .500 but doing it with some awfully shaky starting pitching. If they don’t hang around, they’ll give some AL Central contenders problems in August and September, though. 

19 22

Nelson Cruz has more home runs (13) than the White Sox as a team (12). 

20   7

Pablo Sandoval is fitting in well at Fenway, hitting .326/.400/.438 so far. 

21 23

Went 7-2 against L.A. teams in the last 10 days. Certainly helps their stock.

22 24 Horrible news about Homer Bailey. Shoulda just had Tommy John last year and been done with it.
23   20

Nick Markakis has been great atop the lineup (.394 OBP). Too bad he's slugging just .326...

24 28

Oddly enough, the only series they’ve won this year came against Houston (in the first series of the year). 

25 25

Paul Goldschmidt (.356/.448/.622) would be NL MVP every year if he was on any other team.

26 19

Have favorable matchups with Jeff Samardzija, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana facing the Tigers at home this week. Now would be a good time to start righting the ship. 

27 26

Fortunately for them, there’s no relegation in baseball and they can’t suffer the same fate of their Queens Park relatives in England.  

28 13

Ended the week on a 5-game losing streak, meaning they are officially off all contender lists.

29 30

They get 2 key guys back from injury (Gomez/Ramirez), win two divisional games on the road and THEN fire Roenicke? OK...

30   29

Chase Utley (.108 AVG - .087 BABIP) is the unluckiest player on Earth.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Schwarber, Baez on night to remember at the Home Run Derby

Cubs Talk Podcast: Schwarber, Baez on night to remember at the Home Run Derby

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull spoke with Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber after an electric and entertaining Home Run Derby in Washington D.C.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here:

Who Knew? Cubs at the All-Star Break

Who Knew? Cubs at the All-Star Break

With a break in the action, let’s take a look at the season so far.

Today, I’ll focus on the first 57.4% of the Cubs’ 2018 season. Which is to say, the 93 games before the All-Star Break. Clearly more than “half.”

In all seasons with an All-Star Game (1933-present, minus 1945)

This is the fifth time the Cubs have had the National League’s best record at the All-Star Break.

Here is the entire list (note – 2016 is NOT on this list. They trailed the Giants by 3 games at the Break in 2016):

1937 44-25 +2.0
1969 61-37 +5.0
2001 51-35 +0.5
2008 57-38 +4.5
2018 55-38 +2.5

Which is incredible since:

• Anthony Rizzo has a wRC+ of 100, which is league average

(he was at 131 – 31% better than league average - through the All-Star break last season)

• Kris Bryant has missed 23 games and has only 10 home runs

• The Cubs as a team have 30 fewer Home Runs through 93 games than they did last season

(100 this season, 130 last season)

• The Cubs have had six pitchers make 8 or more starts this season and only one (Jon Lester – 2.58) has an ERA under 3.90

• Cubs pitching has an MLBhigh walk percentage of 11.0%

(Tyler Chatwood’s 9 starts with 5 or more walks is most in a season by a Cubs pitcher since Dick Drott’s 13 in 1957)

• Cubs have outscored their opponents by only one run in the first inning (5251)

This includes being outscored 18-13 in the first inning in Kyle Hendricks’ 19 starts

• Cubs are 57 against the Reds

(they were 27-11 against Cincinnati in 2016-17)

That being said, it's not so incredible since...

• The Cubs have scored at least 10 runs 15 times this season. No other team has done it more than 12 times.

• Jason Heyward has a wRC+ of 109 (he’s 9% better than league average)

This is notable because in 2016 he was at 71 (29% worse than league average) and 88 in 2017 (12% worse than league average).

• The Cubs have EIGHT qualified players with at least a .340 OnBase pct. (and Ian Happ, who is eight PA short of qualifying, is at .379)

The only qualified Cub with a SUB-.340 OBP is Javier Báez (.326 – a career-high). However…

• Javier Báez has 50 extrabase hits in 91 games. Last season he had 49 extra-base hits in 145 games.

Báez is the first player in Cubs history with 15 Doubles, 5 Triples, 15 HR and 15 Stolen Bases before the All-Star Break**.

Báez is the first player in MLB history with 18 Doubles, 6 Triples, 18 HR and 18 Stolen Bases before the All-Star Break**.

**seasons with an All-Star Game – 1933-present (minus 1945)