The Situational Hitting Problem

JP Hochbaum

Active member
803
192
28
The first situational hitting stat that the Cubs need to improve upon is high leverage hitting. They ranked near the bottom this year.

The Cubs regular that was the worst was Schwarber hitting a dismal .044 and Happ was the best at .429. The league leader in this category was none other than Gleybar Torres.

One free agent pickup that is available that could help improve this is Machado who is just above .300.

You could see the team stats here


Part 2 of situational hitting analysis: Hitting with runners in scoring position.

In the best possible way to explain this, the issue seems to be a problem of youth. The Cubs best hitters with runners on base are all past their ARB years: Rizzo, Zobrist, and Heyward. Everyone else under them is still age 26 and younger.

Here are the numbers.

Is it teachable? Is it a function of youth? Players do appear to improve in this area as they hit their peak years around 26-28, and most of the guys that struggled are 26 or younger. Do we wait it out or do we try to trade some youth to get more established vets?
 

Parade_Rain

CCS Donator
Donator
9,218
3,121
70
My favorite teams
Chicago Cubs Chicago Bulls Chicago Bears Illinois Fighting Illini
The problem will fix itself when they stop teaching the kids to swing down. You don't swing down even on ched high in the zone. The swing will be more level with less tilt to match the plane. They overreacted this year when they were getting pitched high in the strike zone the first half.
 

anotheridiot

Active member
4,168
416
40
has anyone verified the stat that Theo claimed the cubs led the league in opposite field hitting?

It might get fixed with the electronic strike zone and catchers stealing strikes that force these guys to swing at pitches out of the zone or watch them.
 

JP Hochbaum

Active member
803
192
28
Well Beck says Schwarber is amazing. So I'm not sure how to square that with your stat.
I agree with Beck. IF Schwarber can handle himself better in situational spots he will hit his potential. Just going up to league average would make him MVP material.
 

JP Hochbaum

Active member
803
192
28
has anyone verified the stat that Theo claimed the cubs led the league in opposite field hitting?

It might get fixed with the electronic strike zone and catchers stealing strikes that force these guys to swing at pitches out of the zone or watch them.
The Cubs ranked 2nd behind Tampa, so he probably meant the NL, which is good considering the DH.

https://www.fangraphs.com/leaderssplits.aspx?splitArr=80&strgroup=season&statgroup=1&startDate=2018-03-01&endDate=2018-11-01&filter=&position=B&statType=team&autoPt=false&players=&pg=0&pageItems=30&sort=5,1
 

JP Hochbaum

Active member
803
192
28
With runners in scoring position the Cubs ranked 20th.
High leverage ranked 27th.
Medium leverage ranked 4th.
Runners on ranked 7th.
 

JP Hochbaum

Active member
803
192
28
The problem will fix itself when they stop teaching the kids to swing down. You don't swing down even on ched high in the zone. The swing will be more level with less tilt to match the plane. They overreacted this year when they were getting pitched high in the strike zone the first half.
It is an interesting debate. People often assume that Boston became better because Chili Davis left. But it could be because they listened to Chili Davis and also listened to the new coach, and the mix of two approaches lead to this years explosion for the Red Sox. It is a good thing to reduce strike outs and increase batting average, which was happening in the first half. But it just completely fell apart in the second half for some reason.
 

Parade_Rain

CCS Donator
Donator
9,218
3,121
70
My favorite teams
Chicago Cubs Chicago Bulls Chicago Bears Illinois Fighting Illini
It is an interesting debate. People often assume that Boston became better because Chili Davis left. But it could be because they listened to Chili Davis and also listened to the new coach, and the mix of two approaches lead to this years explosion for the Red Sox. It is a good thing to reduce strike outs and increase batting average, which was happening in the first half. But it just completely fell apart in the second half for some reason.
This isn't about philosophy. They don't see the core movements of the swing correctly. This type of stuff is why ARam said he was his own hitting instructor.
 

beckdawg

Well-known member
11,089
3,228
75
The first situational hitting stat that the Cubs need to improve upon is high leverage hitting. They ranked near the bottom this year.

The Cubs regular that was the worst was Schwarber hitting a dismal .044 and Happ was the best at .429. The league leader in this category was none other than Gleybar Torres.

One free agent pickup that is available that could help improve this is Machado who is just above .300.

You could see the team stats here


Part 2 of situational hitting analysis: Hitting with runners in scoring position.

In the best possible way to explain this, the issue seems to be a problem of youth. The Cubs best hitters with runners on base are all past their ARB years: Rizzo, Zobrist, and Heyward. Everyone else under them is still age 26 and younger.

Here are the numbers.

Is it teachable? Is it a function of youth? Players do appear to improve in this area as they hit their peak years around 26-28, and most of the guys that struggled are 26 or younger. Do we wait it out or do we try to trade some youth to get more established vets?
This is kind of a lengthy topic you can really dive hard into which is what I'd normally do but I've done that a fair amount already. It's my belief the cubs still need more contact oriented hitters. Contreras is a 72.3% career contact hitter. Schwarber is at 71.2%. Baez is at 68.5% in 2018. It's my belief that the cubs have ordered their hitters poorly. Those 3 hitters were your primary 4-6 hitters this year. When guys get on base you don't walk runs in. You gotta have hits. And to get hits you have to put balls in play. It doesn't really matter if Rizzo, Zobrist and Bryant all have an OBP over .370 if no one can get a hit to drive them in. Keep in mind when the offense was running well it was Heyward who had sparked it. He had 14 RBI's in April, 7 in May and 16 in June. The other 3 months he had 20 combined thanks to injuries setting him back some. Heyward's a career 81.2% contact. Almora falling off a cliff in the second half didn't help either.

That's largely why I want Machado and not Harper. If they keep Rizzo/Bryant 2/3 in the line up you'd then be hitting him 4th most likely which would help some. Schwarber's numbers with men on base don't make a ton of sense to me. Bases empty this year he hit .263/.378/.510(141 wRC+). With men on he hit .205/.326/.411(77 wRC+). It's not even a case of short sample as the first is 288 PAs and the second is 222. Clearly there's something mechanically different there and whatever it is hasn't worked for him.

Baez isn't my guy. He's never been my guy. I find him infuriating because clearly he does things well at times but other times he's not exactly a tough out and he bats pretty undisciplined. As a fan I just don't trust him often with runners on in positions where you gotta score. Contreras is going to be what he's going to be. I think he's ok but I'm not sure I want him 4-6 unless he's hitting hot.

How all that relates to this offseason/fa I'm not entirely sure. I mean obviously I'm advocating for Machado though I'm not entirely sure that fixes the issue unless Schwarber also fixes his issues. But I'm not sure what else they can realistically do. If they found a legitimate lead off hitter I suppose you could move Zobrist back in the line up which would help. But that's sort of what sucks about Baez being more a power hitter than a lead off guy at SS. Those guys tend to be up the middle CF/2B/SS's. And if Machado/Baez are your 2B/SS you have to find that from a CF.
 

JP Hochbaum

Active member
803
192
28
This is kind of a lengthy topic you can really dive hard into which is what I'd normally do but I've done that a fair amount already. It's my belief the cubs still need more contact oriented hitters. Contreras is a 72.3% career contact hitter. Schwarber is at 71.2%. Baez is at 68.5% in 2018. It's my belief that the cubs have ordered their hitters poorly. Those 3 hitters were your primary 4-6 hitters this year. When guys get on base you don't walk runs in. You gotta have hits. And to get hits you have to put balls in play. It doesn't really matter if Rizzo, Zobrist and Bryant all have an OBP over .370 if no one can get a hit to drive them in. Keep in mind when the offense was running well it was Heyward who had sparked it. He had 14 RBI's in April, 7 in May and 16 in June. The other 3 months he had 20 combined thanks to injuries setting him back some. Heyward's a career 81.2% contact. Almora falling off a cliff in the second half didn't help either.

That's largely why I want Machado and not Harper. If they keep Rizzo/Bryant 2/3 in the line up you'd then be hitting him 4th most likely which would help some. Schwarber's numbers with men on base don't make a ton of sense to me. Bases empty this year he hit .263/.378/.510(141 wRC+). With men on he hit .205/.326/.411(77 wRC+). It's not even a case of short sample as the first is 288 PAs and the second is 222. Clearly there's something mechanically different there and whatever it is hasn't worked for him.

Baez isn't my guy. He's never been my guy. I find him infuriating because clearly he does things well at times but other times he's not exactly a tough out and he bats pretty undisciplined. As a fan I just don't trust him often with runners on in positions where you gotta score. Contreras is going to be what he's going to be. I think he's ok but I'm not sure I want him 4-6 unless he's hitting hot.

How all that relates to this offseason/fa I'm not entirely sure. I mean obviously I'm advocating for Machado though I'm not entirely sure that fixes the issue unless Schwarber also fixes his issues. But I'm not sure what else they can realistically do. If they found a legitimate lead off hitter I suppose you could move Zobrist back in the line up which would help. But that's sort of what sucks about Baez being more a power hitter than a lead off guy at SS. Those guys tend to be up the middle CF/2B/SS's. And if Machado/Baez are your 2B/SS you have to find that from a CF.
I think they thought Schwarber would be a better contact hitter. If they want to adjust the lineup to have contact behind the OBP guys it should then be Heyward and Zobrist batting 4th and 5th. If Murphy comes back and Almora can repeat his first half then they are in that boat too. I wouldn't be opposed to letting Schwarber taking leadoff again.
 

CSF77

Well-known member
12,669
1,825
75
This is kind of a lengthy topic you can really dive hard into which is what I'd normally do but I've done that a fair amount already. It's my belief the cubs still need more contact oriented hitters. Contreras is a 72.3% career contact hitter. Schwarber is at 71.2%. Baez is at 68.5% in 2018. It's my belief that the cubs have ordered their hitters poorly. Those 3 hitters were your primary 4-6 hitters this year. When guys get on base you don't walk runs in. You gotta have hits. And to get hits you have to put balls in play. It doesn't really matter if Rizzo, Zobrist and Bryant all have an OBP over .370 if no one can get a hit to drive them in. Keep in mind when the offense was running well it was Heyward who had sparked it. He had 14 RBI's in April, 7 in May and 16 in June. The other 3 months he had 20 combined thanks to injuries setting him back some. Heyward's a career 81.2% contact. Almora falling off a cliff in the second half didn't help either.

That's largely why I want Machado and not Harper. If they keep Rizzo/Bryant 2/3 in the line up you'd then be hitting him 4th most likely which would help some. Schwarber's numbers with men on base don't make a ton of sense to me. Bases empty this year he hit .263/.378/.510(141 wRC+). With men on he hit .205/.326/.411(77 wRC+). It's not even a case of short sample as the first is 288 PAs and the second is 222. Clearly there's something mechanically different there and whatever it is hasn't worked for him.

Baez isn't my guy. He's never been my guy. I find him infuriating because clearly he does things well at times but other times he's not exactly a tough out and he bats pretty undisciplined. As a fan I just don't trust him often with runners on in positions where you gotta score. Contreras is going to be what he's going to be. I think he's ok but I'm not sure I want him 4-6 unless he's hitting hot.

How all that relates to this offseason/fa I'm not entirely sure. I mean obviously I'm advocating for Machado though I'm not entirely sure that fixes the issue unless Schwarber also fixes his issues. But I'm not sure what else they can realistically do. If they found a legitimate lead off hitter I suppose you could move Zobrist back in the line up which would help. But that's sort of what sucks about Baez being more a power hitter than a lead off guy at SS. Those guys tend to be up the middle CF/2B/SS's. And if Machado/Baez are your 2B/SS you have to find that from a CF.
This is a can of worms.

So honestly you have to simplify it.



https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=c,4,6,11,12,13,21,-1,34,35,40,41,-1,23,37,38,50,61,-1,111,-1,203,199,58,106&season=2018&month=0&season1=2018&ind=0&team=&rost=&age=&filter=&players=

Basically you are going with z-contact%

Zobrist #18
Rizzo 20
Schwarber: 116
Baez: 124
Contreras 125

Michael Brantley (32) was #1 F/A this year.
DJ LeMahieu #4 F/A
Harper #130

Out of 140 qualified.

It actually promotes going after Brantley. He would fulfill the lead of with contact. 7.6% BB and 9.5% SO is damn good. Actually makes plenty of sense and wont bust the bank. What 16M per at his age is realistic.

Then they could run:
Brantley LF
Bryant 3B
Rizzo 1B
Zobrist 2B
Baez -SS
Heyward RF
Contreras C
Pitcher
Happ CF

Way I would go then. Happ has a good chance of posting a 3 WAR season full time. Almora was on pace for a 2 WAR season and I do like having contact PH though and him and LaStella.

Schwarber would have to be traded. Limited to LF.
 

beckdawg

Well-known member
11,089
3,228
75
I think they thought Schwarber would be a better contact hitter. If they want to adjust the lineup to have contact behind the OBP guys it should then be Heyward and Zobrist batting 4th and 5th. If Murphy comes back and Almora can repeat his first half then they are in that boat too. I wouldn't be opposed to letting Schwarber taking leadoff again.
I mean I would probably have expected as a prospect he would strike out less but to say I ever thought he was going to be a high contact hitter isn't really accurate IMO. We always knew he was going to walk a ton. If it were me I'd hit him 2nd. I know people disagree with me but that's how I see it. Schwarber finished 2018 with a .356 OBP. Bryant had a .374 OBP. So you're likely taking a small dip in performance doing that but I think Bryant's hitting with runners on more than makes up for it compared to what Schwarber has done. Plus, I believe pitchers would have to challenge Schwarber more with Bryant behind him vs Russell who predominantly hit 7th where as Schwarber predominantly hit 6th.

As I've said else where, I get the math behind batting your best hitter 2nd but logistically it just doesn't make sense to me to have Bryant take so many PAs without guys on base. Other than Rizzo he's the guy I want up with runners on first and second but he's rarely in that situation given the pitcher typically bats 9th. And for what it's worth, when Almora and Baez were hot to start the year and they pushed Bryant to 4th the team was playing really well.
 

beckdawg

Well-known member
11,089
3,228
75
It actually promotes going after Brantley. He would fulfill the lead of with contact.
This is entirely missing the point I was making. You don't need a lead off hitter for this problem. You need contact hitters in the middle of the line up. I mean if you want to argue Brantley for lead off for other reasons fine but batting him lead off doesn't improve this issue at all. That issue is the cubs got guys on base and only had hitters who were good at walking behind them. And you don't walk your way to runs often.

With runners in scoring position the cubs hit .259. They walked a ton with a 13.2% walk rate but that doesn't score runs, hits do.
 

CSF77

Well-known member
12,669
1,825
75
This is entirely missing the point I was making. You don't need a lead off hitter for this problem. You need contact hitters in the middle of the line up. I mean if you want to argue Brantley for lead off for other reasons fine but batting him lead off doesn't improve this issue at all. That issue is the cubs got guys on base and only had hitters who were good at walking behind them. And you don't walk your way to runs often.

With runners in scoring position the cubs hit .259. They walked a ton with a 13.2% walk rate but that doesn't score runs, hits do.
I did address it with Zo, Baez, Heyward(Platoon withAlmora).

For the most part those guys have solid contact rates.

But let’s be real. The main issue this year was Bryant being injured. When you lost 4 WAR and 1.5 from Rizzo it is hard to make up
 

beckdawg

Well-known member
11,089
3,228
75
I did address it with Zo, Baez, Heyward(Platoon withAlmora).

For the most part those guys have solid contact rates.

But let’s be real. The main issue this year was Bryant being injured. When you lost 4 WAR and 1.5 from Rizzo it is hard to make up
Zobrist isn't going to play every day. If he gets more than 400 PAs of quality play great but I don't go into 2019 expecting that. I'd expect him to get 300. Platooning Heyward and Almora doesn't really make that much sense because Heyward doesn't have a huge split. Plus you don't really want Heyward batting 4-6 unless he's playing like he did in june. And Baez isn't part of the solution to this problem because he's worse than both Contreras and Schwarber at putting the ball in play.

I really don't see what you've outlined improving the team and I say that as someone who doesn't hate the idea of potentially going after Brantley. I think you're setting up pretty much the same exact problem they had because the difference between Zobrist in 2018 and what you're probably expecting Brantley to is negligible. Honestly, I would expect Brantley to be worse but that's just because Zobrist was really good this year. Zobrist later in the line up probably helps some but Joe was typically batting him 4th in 2017 and the issues were still there. And I seriously doubt Almora/Heyward are going to provide the big RBI numbers you'd want out of the middle of the order and I say that as someone who likes both a lot.

Like I have said, I'd move Bryant back in the line up. I know it's not the trendy thing to do but for what 70 years you put your best hitter 3rd or 4th. So, it's not like it's a crazy idea. \
 

JP Hochbaum

Active member
803
192
28
I think the moral of the story of this season is that our best hitter, Baez, is a guy that should be hitting 7th or 8th in the order.
Russell was supposed to develop into that 5th hitter that made more contact and struck out less, which he did for a brief while when he approached hitting .290 at one point. But he is likely gone because he's not a good human.
Machado is the answer to this.
 

beckdawg

Well-known member
11,089
3,228
75
I think the moral of the story of this season is that our best hitter, Baez, is a guy that should be hitting 7th or 8th in the order.
Russell was supposed to develop into that 5th hitter that made more contact and struck out less, which he did for a brief while when he approached hitting .290 at one point. But he is likely gone because he's not a good human.
Machado is the answer to this.
I wouldn't say Baez is a 7/8 hitter. I think I'd bat him 6th or 5th on a team that's a bit weaker hitting than i think the cubs are going to be next year. Essentially I think you want him as a book end to your best group of hitters. The way I think about undisciplined hitters with monster power like him is they aren't guys I always want with a guy on second base but his power gives him the ability to do massive damage with runners on. Ideally you have higher contact guys who keep a rally going and he ends it with a bunch of runs rather than the individual runs you might get from your contact guys.
 

CSF77

Well-known member
12,669
1,825
75
I wouldn't say Baez is a 7/8 hitter. I think I'd bat him 6th or 5th on a team that's a bit weaker hitting than i think the cubs are going to be next year. Essentially I think you want him as a book end to your best group of hitters. The way I think about undisciplined hitters with monster power like him is they aren't guys I always want with a guy on second base but his power gives him the ability to do massive damage with runners on. Ideally you have higher contact guys who keep a rally going and he ends it with a bunch of runs rather than the individual runs you might get from your contact guys.
If Joe ever went static
 
Top