Cubs

By the numbers: Analyzing Cubs through first part of 2015

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By the numbers: Analyzing Cubs through first part of 2015

With the Cubs' 6-1 victory over the New York Mets at Wrigley Field Tuesday night, it marked the 32nd game of the season, which means roughly 20 percent of the 2015 campaign is completed.

One-fifth of the way through the season, the Cubs are on pace for 85 wins. Last season, the fewest number of wins by a team that made the playoffs was 88 (Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, Oakland A's). In 2013, the fewest number of wins by a playoff team was 90 (Cincinnati Reds).

[MORE CUBS: Buzz is back for Cubs-Mets as Jake Arrieta upstages Noah Syndergaard]

The Cubs' -3 run differential ranks eighth in the National League and 18th in Major League Baseball.

At .531, the Cubs have the ninth-highest winning percentage in all of baseball.

National League Ranks:

2nd - BBs taken (114)
2nd - SB (30)
5th - HRs (31)
5th - OBP (.325)
6th - Total Bases (435)
6th - SLG (.397)
6th - OPS (.722)
8th - Runs (137)
10th - AVG (.249)

[MORE - 'Bash Brothers' 2.0: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo will drive Cubs]

2nd - K/9 (8.46)
5th - Strikeouts (270)
7th - Batting AVG Against (.249)
7th - HR allowed (28)
8th - ERA (4.10)
9th - Quality Starts (16)
13th - Blown Saves (6)

Pace (hitters)

Kris Bryant - .276/.417/.460 (.876 OPS), 76 R, 25 2B, 15 HR, 96 RBI, 101 BB, 172 K

Because he was in the minors for the first two weeks of the MLB season, Bryant is also only on pace for 122 games and 440 at-bats, making those pace numbers above all the more impressive. He's walking at a ridiculous rate right now, which is helping to make up for all the strikeouts and helped ease the surprising loss of power his first three weeks in The Show. But he has three homers in the last four games and it's not crazy at all to think he could finish with 25-30 dingers.

Starlin Castro - .280/.301/.371 (.673 OPS), 66 R, 15 2B, 15 HR, 101 RBI, 20 BB, 137 K, 10 SB

Much like other names on this list, Castro is striking out too much and he's also not drawing many walks. The 20 free passes would represent a career low (he walked 29 times in 125 games his rookie season in 2010). Castro also hasn't hit for a ton of power yet, but those 101 RBI looks nice hitting in the middle of that lineup. The projections have him at 187 hits on the season, which means he'd notch his 1,000 career basehit somewhere around early September if he stays healthy.

Alfonso Soriano was the last Cub to reach 100 RBI (2012).

Dexter Fowler - .262/.348/.402 (.749 OPS), 101 R, 35 2B, 10 3B, 10 HR, 35 RBI, 71 BB, 147 K, 41 SB

Fowler is on pace to play in 157 games and notch more than 600 at-bats, which may be a little unrealistic. The veteran outfielder has never earned even 500 at-bats in a season and he hasn't recorded 20+ steals in a season since his rookie year of 2009.

The Cubs haven't had a player score 100 runs in a season since Mark DeRosa accomplished the feat with 103 runs in 2008.

Anthony Rizzo - .330/.455/.600 (1.055 OPS), 122 R, 41 2B, 35 HR, 96 RBI, 96 BB, 86 K, 35 SB

There's almost no way Rizzo winds up with 30 steals, but the crazy pace he's on was unpredictable from the start, so who knows? That BB:K ratio is elite stuff and the numbers across the board look like an MVP candidate.

Addison Russell - .250/.280/.431 (.711 OPS), 46 R, 35 2B, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 15 BB, 157 K

Keep in mind that Russell is only just now starting his fourth week of MLB action and that 35-double pace is only in 365 at-bats (96 games).

Jorge Soler - .280/.338/.424 (.762 OPS), 76 R, 35 2B, 15 HR, 66 RBI, 56 BB, 238 K

The first thing that stands out, obviously, is the strikeouts and lack of power. Soler hit 28 homers in 163 games in the minor leagues and had five in 24 games last year. His strikeout total is especially alarming, as he leads the NL in that category and 238 whiffs makes Mark Reynolds look like an extreme contact hitter.

Pace (pitchers)

—Jon Lester is on track for 15 wins and 203 strikeouts. He recorded 220 whiffs last season, his first year over 200 since 2010.

[MORE CUBS: Cubs need Jon Lester, the perfectionist, operating at full strength]

—Jake Arrieta is on pace for 20 wins as well as 243 strikeouts in 228 innings.

—Jason Hammel (who starts Wednesday night) on pace for 15 wins and 177 strikeouts, which would both be career highs.

—Hector Rondon is on track for 35 saves. Kevin Gregg (33) was the last Cubs reliever to notch 30 saves in a season in 2013. Thirty-five saves would be the highest for a Cubs closer since Carlos Marmol saved 38 games in 2010.

Catchers

The Cubs went against the grain by keeping three catchers on the big-league roster to open the season, but that experiement has worked out for them.

Miguel Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo have combined to post an .877 OPS, tops in the NL and third in all of baseball. The trio have combined for nine doubles five homers, 19 RBI, a .282 AVG, .377 OBP and and even .500 slugging.

Odds and ends

—Travis Wood has a 9.4 K/9 ratio through six starts, which is way above his career 7.0 mark coming into 2015. In fact, even in the minor leagues, Wood only managed an 8.4 K/9 ratio.

—Wood has also been a nonfactor at the plate in the early going. He hit six homers and three doubles the last two seasons with 18 RBI, but has only two singles in 20 at-bats in 2015, good for a .200 OPS. His OPS in 2013 and '14 was .639 and .700, respectively.

—With 27 errors in their first 32 games, only two teams - Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A's - have made more miscues than the Cubs. Joe Maddon's squad is on pace for 135 errors; they made 103 errors as a team in 2014.

—The Cubs have struck out the most of any team in the NL with 321 whiffs, almost 40 more than the next closest team (Milwaukee).

—Rizzo, Mike Trout & Justin Upton are only three players in Majors with at least 7 HR and 7 Stolen Bases this season.

—All of last season, the Cubs had four first-inning homers at Wrigley Field (they didn't hit their first until Aug. 19th). They have already matched that total in 2015, including two on Monday.

—In 202 PA vs lefties 2014-15, Anthony Rizzo is hitting .323/.443/.524 with 8 HR. He is 11-24 (.458/.581/.625) in 31 PA in 2015 alone.

—Lester's first four starts: 0-2, 6.23 ERA, 21.2 IP, 29 H

Last three starts: 3-0, 1.80 ERA, 20.0 IP, 15 H

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

—Lester now 0-for-52 career at the plate

—Arrieta is now 18-10 with a 2.84 ERA, 1.030 WHIP and 252 strikeouts in 253.1 innings in 41 starts with the Cubs.

He was 20-25 with 5.46 ERA, 1.472 WHIP and 277 strikeouts in 358 innings spanning 69 games (63 starts) with the Baltimore Orioles to begin his career.

(H/T to CSN Stat Guru Chris Kamka for help with stats/info)

Cubs executive Jason McLeod reportedly linked to Giants' GM opening

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USA TODAY

Cubs executive Jason McLeod reportedly linked to Giants' GM opening

Is this the offseason that Cubs executive Jason McLeod finally becomes an MLB general manager?

According to Bruce Levine, the Giants are reportedly interested in McLeod, the Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development, for their vacant general manager position.

McLeod joined the Cubs' front office in 2011 alongside Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Before the Cubs, he spent six years in the Red Sox front office and two in the Padres' (with Hoyer, who was San Diego's general manager from 2010-2011). 

Of course, the Giants' reported interest in McLeod doesn't necessarily mean that he will interview for the job. However, it's worth noting that McLeod interviewed for the Twins' general manager job in 2016; he also withdrew his name from consideration for the Padres' general manager job in 2014. 

In addition to the Giants, McLeod's name has been linked to the Mets' general manager vacancy. This is more speculation, but the point is that it seems to be only a matter of time before McLeod is hired as general manager elsewhere.

For what it's worth, though, McLeod is under contract through 2021 and has previously said that he is grateful to be with the Cubs. 

“I’m exceptionally grateful,” McLeod said. “All of us are. Look at where we are at this moment in time with this team," McLeod said in 2016. "I can’t imagine a better environment, a better culture to work at in baseball.

"We’ve been together a long time. We’re friends. We’re good. We embrace the fact that we are good. And we challenge ourselves to be even better.”

Cubs have new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

Cubs have new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

The Cubs are heading into a new season with a different hitting coach for the second straight winter, but the most recent choice is a familiar face.

Anthony Iapoce is set to join Joe Maddon's coaching staff this week after serving in the same capacity with the Texas Rangers for the last three seasons. The Cubs confirmed the move Monday afternoon shortly after the news broke out of the Rangers camp.

The Cubs fired Chili Davis last week after just one season as the team's hitting coach.

Entering the final week of the season, the Rangers fired manager Jeff Banister, leaving Iapoce and the rest of the Texas coaching staff in limbo.

As such, Iapoce is rejoining the Cubs, where he served as a special assistant to the General Manager from 2013-15 focusing on player development, particularly in the hitting department throughout the minor leagues.

Iapoce has familiarity with a bunch of the current star offensive players on the Cubs, from Willson Contreras to Kris Bryant. 

Both Bryant and Contreras endured tough 2018 seasons at the plate, which was a huge reason for the Cubs' underperforming lineup. Bryant's issue was more related to a left shoulder injured suffered in mid-May while Contreras' offensive woes remain a major question mark after the young catcher looked to be emerging as a legitimate superstar entering the campaign.

Getting Contreras back to the hitter that put up 21 homers and 74 RBI in only 117 games in 2017 will be one of the main goals for Iapoce, so the history between the two could be a key.

With the Rangers, Iapoce oversaw an offense that ranked 7th, 9th and 14th in MLB in runs scored over the last three seasons. The decline in offensive production is obviously not a great sign, but the Rangers as a team have fallen off greatly since notching the top seed in the AL playoffs in 2016 with 95 wins only to lose 95 games in 2018, resulting in the change at manager.

Iapoce has worked with an offense backed by Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo the last few seasons.

Under Iapoce's tutelage, former top prospect Jurickson Profar shed any notion of a "bust" label and emerged as a budding star at age 25, collecting 61 extra-base hits with a .793 OPS in 2018.

When the Cubs let Davis go last week, they provided no update on assistant hitting coach Andy Haines, who just finished his first season in that role and is expected to remain with the team for 2019. The same offseason Iapoce left for the Rangers, Haines took over as the Cubs' minor league hitting instructor.