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What if the Cubs had kept star players from the 2020 season?

Richard Johnson
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Anthony Rizzo / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Cubs, Yankees getting very different levels of offense at first base

Frank Schwindel vs. Anthony Rizzo

  • Schwindy: .239/.284.389, 86 wRC+, -0.1 WAR
  • Rizz: .218/.318/.471, 124 wRC+, 0.7 WAR
  • Difference: -0.8

I didn’t think Frank Schwindel would stick in The Show, and his early season performance seemed to be confirming that view, but he’s steadily improved since that awful April. He has a solid if uninspiring 103 wRC+ in June. He’s an easy guy to root for; I’m glad he’s on his way to proving me wrong.

It may surprise you to learn that none of that WAR difference is attributable to defense. Schwindel has one of the more maligned gloves east of the Mississippi, but Rizzo’s defense has deteriorated substantially with age. While Statacast doesn’t think much of either player defensively, Schwindel’s Outs Above Average is zero while Rizzo’s is -5.

Nico Hoerner vs. Javier Baez

  • Hoerner: .278/.304/.401, 94 wRC+, 1.3 WAR
  • Baez: .188/.232/.288, 47wRC+, -0.3 WAR
  • Difference: 1.6 WAR

Oh, Javy! Javier Baez is having, by most measures, not just the worst season of his major league career, but his worst as a professional ballplayer. His brief resurgence with the Mets is now a distant memory. And it isn’t because of strikeouts.  His strikeout rate is 26.1 percent, the third-best of his career. It’s the power that’s gone MIA. His ISO of .103 is the fifth-worst among qualifying shortstops, not a position known for high throw-weight: banjo-hitting Elvis Andrus is just ahead of Baez with an ISO of .124.

Meanwhile Hoerner has quickly become a promising contributor, especially in his role as a magician in the field. Memo to Ed Howard: Consider the advantages of the keystone.

Patrick Wisdom vs. Kris Bryant

  • Wisdom: .225/.309/.459, 112 wRC+, 0.8 WAR
  • Bryant: .270/.342/.333, 81 WRC+, -0.3 WAR
  • Difference: 1.1 WAR

The Rockies made an unexpected decision when they signed Kris Bryant to gobs of filthy lucre, but then again the phrase “unexpected Rockies decision” must now be considered redundant. Bryant didn’t hesitate to disappoint, putting up the feeble slash line you see above before punching his ticket to the IL. And it could have been even worse: Bryant did all that non-damage with a .340 BABIP.

Wisdom, by contrast, continues to play the hits on his “I Got Yer On-Base Right Here” world tour.  His defense has regressed, Fangraphs and Statcast agree, though some of that may be related to David Ross’ decision to deploy Wisdom all over the field. It’s quicker to list the positions at which Wizzy hasn’t started: catcher, second, short, and DH.

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