The Decade In Baseball – Pitching Leaders

baseballs3The 2010s have drawn to a close and its time to take a look back at the previous decade.  Today, we are finishing off our look back at 10 years worth of baseball with the pitching leaders for the 385 games I attended between 2010 and 2019.

In addition to the regular season, these totals include 2 wild card games, 3 trips to the NLDS, 3 NLCS appearances, and the 2016 World Series.  Not too many surprises on these charts.

Wins

Name Total
Chris Sale 21
Gavin Floyd 13
John Danks 11
Jon Lester  10
Jake Peavy 10

Losses

Name Total
Jose Quintana 17
Chris Sale 12
John Danks 10
James Shields 10
Gavin Floyd 9
Carlos Rodon 9

ERA (> 10 IP)

Name Total
Kyle Ryan 0.00
Colby Lewis 0.60
Brandon Kintzler 0.68
Matt Moore 0.79
Yovani Gallardo 0.82

ERA (> 20 IP)

Name Total
Kyle Gibson 1.59
Dallas Braden 1.71
Aaron Bummer 1.84
Zach Duke 2.00
Wade Davis 2.01

Strikeouts

Name Total
Chris Sale 313
Jose Quintana 208
Gavin Floyd 145
Continue reading →

The Decade In Baseball – Team Records

The 2010s have drawn to a close and its time to take a look back at the previous decade.  Today, we are starting with baseball, specifically the performance of all 30 MLB teams in games I attended between 2010 and 2019.  Locally, things were good on the north side of town, as the Cubs finished their rebuild with 3 straight NLCS appearances in the middle of the decade, including a World Series championship in 2016.  It was much bleaker on the south side, as the White Sox failed to compete after a late collapse in 2012, finishing the decade on a string of 7 consecutive losing seasons.

I managed to take in 385 games over the past 10 years at 12 different stadiums from coast (Dodger Stadium) to coast (Fenway Park).  2010 was my high water mark, with 52 games, while 2013 and 2018 tied for the lowest total of the decade with only 29 games.

Games Per Year
Year Total Games
2010 52
2011 43
2012 33
2013 29
2014 35
2015 39
2016 39
2017 49
2018 29
2019 37

Two franchises went through the decade undefeated in games I attended, while another 2 teams went winless.  Both local teams finished just a shade under .500.  The White Sox are far and away the team I saw most often, while the Diamondbacks bring up the rear with only 2 appearances over the past 10 years.

2019 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Colorado Rockies 4 0 1.000
New York Mets 3 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 9 3 0.750
New York Yankees 9 4 0.692
Washington Nationals 6 3 0.667
Houston Astros 6 3 0.667
Florida Marlins 2 1 0.667
Los Angeles Angels 9 5 0.643
Detroit Tigers 22 13 0.629
Pittsburgh Pirates 5 3 0.625
Kansas City Royals 21 17 0.553
Cleveland Indians 17 14 0.548
Toronto Blue Jays 8 7 0.533
Minnesota Twins 19 17 0.528
Oakland Athletics 7 7 0.500
St. Louis Cardinals 2 2 0.500
San Diego Padres 2 2 0.500
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 159 164 0.492
Chicago Cubs 40 43 0.482
Continue reading →

Ballpark Tour: Indians

As we prepare to close out 2019, we continue our tour of all of the different baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. This week, we head east to the so-called Mistake By The Lake for a look at the Cleveland Indians. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Progressive Field.

 

Stadium Name: Progressive Field

Years in Service: 1994 – Present

Visits: 2

The Indians moved into Jacobs Field for the 1994 season after calling Cleveland Stadium home since 1932.  In 1997, the park became one of the few in MLB history to host both the All Star Game and the World Series in the same season.  2008 saw the naming rights sold to a local insurance company and the stadium was renamed Progressive Field.  Since opening, the park has seen 10 Central Division titles, 5 ALCS appearances, and 3 trips to the World Series.  It hosted its second All Star Game this past summer.

I almost took my first trip to the park in 2016, for Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, but I just couldn’t quite pull the trigger.  A Southwest credit this summer led to me booking a 2-day September trip to Cleveland for $3, so there was no second guessing this time.  I arrived on a Wednesday afternoon, in plenty of time for that evening’s tilt between the White Sox and the Indians.  A tremendous catch on a smash by Eloy Jimenez saved the game for the Tribe.  The matinee performance on Thursday afternoon entailed a nice one-hitter by Reynaldo Lopez, giving the White Sox a quick victory before I had to head back to the airport.

Adios Addison

When the Cubs first acquired Addison Russell on July 4, 2014, they thought they were getting a cornerstone of their rebuild that would roam the middle of the Wrigley Field infield for years to come.  In 2015, he supplanted Starlin Castro at shortstop and, the following year, he hit a grand slam in game 6 of the World Series, helping the Cubs win their first title in 108 years.  3 years later, his time with the team has come to an end, as the Cubs declined to tender him a contract on Monday.

On the field, Russell has failed to take that next step.  His OPS+ dropped in both 2017 and 2018, before rebounding slightly this year.  He was sent to Triple A this summer after admitting he needed to be “more familiar” with the team’s signs.  On top of his diminishing performance, his off the field baggage made keeping him untenable.

Russell missed the first 28 games of 2019 to complete his domestic violence suspension tied to a September 2018 Instagram post by his now ex-wife containing accusations of physical and emotional abuse.  After initially denying the accusations, Russell decided to accept the suspension without appeal and agreed to participate in a comprehensive treatment program.

By all accounts, the Cubs should have cut bait last offseason, but they decided to take a chance at recovering any value Russell still had and tendered him  a contract for 2019.  The same was not true this time around.  President of baseball operations Theo Epstein boiled down the decision to a financial one, saying, “We decided to non-tender Addison Russell today simply because the role we expected him to play for the 2020 Cubs was inconsistent with how he would have been treated in the salary arbitration process.”

With the emergence of Javy Baez, there isn’t a pressing need for Russell’s services.  Given the bad press the team has weathered over the past few years around Russell and their acquisitions of Aroldis Chapman and Daniel Murphy, it was time to cut bait.  To be perfectly honest, this is probably the best move for Russell as well, giving him the opportunity to re-start his career somewhere else, without the scrutiny of the Cub spotlight.

Games Per Stadium By Year

With the 2019 season in the rear view mirror, let’s take a look at the number of games I’ve attended per year at one of the 25 different stadiums I’ve visited over the years.

 

Year Stadium Name Total Games
2008 US Cellular Field 46
2003 Wrigley Field 46
Surprise playoff runs for the White Sox in 2008 and the Cubs in 2003 led to my highest single season totals ever, boosted by post-season play.
2007 Wrigley Field 43
2004 Wrigley Field 41
My highest non-playoff total saw me attending over half of the home games for the Cubs in 2004.
2011 US Cellular Field 40
2009 US Cellular Field 40
2010 US Cellular Field 36
2005 Wrigley Field 34
2008 Wrigley Field 34
2017 Guaranteed Rate Field 33
2006 US Cellular Field 32
Post World Series championship started an attendance jump.
2016 US Cellular Field 32
2012 US Cellular Field 31
2015 US Cellular Field 31
2007 US Cellular Field 29
2014 US Cellular Field 28
Continue reading →

The David Ross Era Has Begun

After weeks (if not more) of speculation, the Cubs officially named David Ross as their new manager yesterday, replacing Joe Maddon.  Ross, who retired from the Cubs following the 2016 World Series, has no previous managing or coaching experience.  Ross inherits an underachieving team that has sputtered down the stretch the prior two seasons, losing the Wild Card game in 2018 and failing to make the playoffs this past year.

Managing his former teammates will be a non-issue, according to Ross and the Cubs front office, but there is risk involved in players who considered Ross a friend now having to toe the line as he becomes their boss.  In some ways, it is a safe choice, but there is a risk that it will backfire and the team will be forced to part ways with a recent legend.

The Joe Maddon Era Has Ended

After 5 seasons, the Cubs and Joe Maddon have agreed to part ways as his initial contract with the club expires with the end of the 2019 season.  Maddon, who was hired under dubious circumstances following the 2014 season, put together one of the best runs in franchise history, with 3 straight trips to the NLCS and a World Series victory that broke a 108 year curse on the north side.  The last 2 years, though, have ended in disappointment, with September swoons that led to a Wild Card loss in 2018 and missing the playoffs completely this year.

Maddon is likely to land on his feet, with attractive openings in San Diego and, potentially, Philadelphia.  The Angels, Maddon’s one time employer, have hinted they are willing to pull the same move the Cubs did 5 years ago, dumping their manager after one year for a shot at Maddon.  Wherever he ends up, he will try to rebound and re-find his winning touch.

What To Do With Addison Russell?

When the Cubs first acquired Addison Russell on July 4, 2014, they thought they were getting a cornerstone of their rebuild that would roam the middle of the Wrigley Field infield for years to come.  In 2015, he supplanted Starlin Castro at shortstop and, the following year, he hit a grand slam in game 6 of the World Series, helping the Cubs win their first title in 108 years.  And its been downhill since then.

On the field, Russell has failed to take that next step.  His OPS+ dropped in both 2017 and 2018.  He set career lows in home runs in 2017 and again in 2018.  His errors per chance increased both years.  That alone would leave reasonable questions about his future with the franchise.  His performance on the field, however, is nothing compared to the nightmare he has turned into off the field.

In June of 2017, an Instagram post by a friend of his wife’s accused Russell of domestic violence.  Russell denied the accusation and, while MLB opened an investigation, he wasn’t suspended.  At the 2017 All Star Game, Scott Boras, Russell’s agent, seemed confident that his client would be absolved of any wrong-doing.  “I think we know the facts of that and the foundation of social media,” Boras said that day.  “I don’t think there is any support to (the allegation).”

Everything was quiet until late September 2018, when Russell’s now ex-wife posted on Instagram, detailing some of the physical and emotional abuse that she claims Russell put her through.  Russell again denied the allegations, but was placed on administrative leave for the remainder of the season, including the playoffs.  On October 4, Russell was suspended for 40 games, retroactive to September 21 and spilling into the beginning of the 2019 season, becoming eligible to play on May 3, barring any early season weather issues.

Per a statement, Russell decided to accept the suspension without appeal and will also participate in a confidential and comprehensive evaluation and treatment program, which will be supervised by MLB’s Joint Policy Board.  “After gaining a full understanding of the situation, I have concluded it’s in the best interest of my family to accept MLB’s proposed resolution of this matter,” Russell said in the statement released by his attorneys.  “I wish my ex-wife well and hope we can live in peace for the benefit of our child.”

The Cubs had an easy out at that point, but instead decided to tender Russell a contract for 2019 last month.  President of baseball operations Theo Epstein called the decision a “procedural step” and said it did “not represent the finish line nor rubber stamp his future” with the club.  “It does, however, reflect our support for him as long as he continues to make progress and demonstrates his commitment to these important issues,” Epstein added.  In a statement released by the Cubs, Russell said, “Since accepting my suspension, I’ve had time to reflect on my past behavior and think about the next steps I need to take to grow as a person.”

Earlier this week, more details about the abuse were released by Russell’s ex-wife while additional allegations were made by a former girlfriend and mother of Russell’s daughter.  Unfortunately for the Cubs, they can’t rid themselves of Russell now even if they wanted to.  Until Russell signs a contract for 2019, he is in a bit of a limbo.  That is, assuming, that the Cubs want to rid themselves of Russell and the headache that he brings to the table.

With the emergence of Javy Baez and the availability of Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist, there isn’t a pressing need for Russell’s services.  Given the bad press the team has weathered over the past few years regarding their acquisitions of Aroldis Chapman and Daniel Murphy, one would think it would make sense for the Cubs to move on at this point.  It would also likely be beneficial for Russell to re-start his career somewhere else, without the scrutiny of the Cub spotlight.

Book 13 (of 52) – Teammate

Teammate: My Journey In Baseball And A World Series For The Ages – David Ross and Don Yaeger

When David Ross announced that he would be retiring following the 2016 season, he agreed to keep a journal to use as the basis for a memoir about his career.  Little did he know that the season would end with the Cubs finally breaking their 108 year curse and winning the World Series, or that he would hit a home run in his final at bat in game 7 against the Indians.  Using that magical season as the through line, Ross tells tales of his career and how he learned to become a good teammate.

Ross, alongside co-authot Don Yaeger, does a good job of switching between his personal story and the trip through the 2016 season.  His is one of the surprisingly few books written about the season, and the only one from an insider.  From that perspective, it was well worth the read.

All Time Playoff Team Records

As the Cubs prepare for their third consecutive post-season appearance and an NLDS tilt against the Nationals, it’s time to take an updated look at the team records for the now 26 playoff contests I have attended. These contests come from the ALDS in 2000, 2005, and 2008, the NLDS in 2003, 2007, 2008, 2015, and 2016, the NLCS in 2003, 2015, and 2016, the ALCS in 2005, and, of course, the 2005 and 2016 World Series.

Post-Season Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Florida Marlins 3 0 1.000
Seattle Mariners 2 0 1.000
New York Mets 2 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Chicago White Sox 5 4 0.556
Los Angeles Dodgers 2 2 0.500
Tampa Bay Rays 1 1 0.500
Los Angeles Angels 1 1 0.500
Cleveland Indians 1 1 0.500
Atlanta Braves 1 1 0.500
Chicago Cubs 7 10 0.412
St. Louis Cardinals 0 1 0.000
San Francisco Giants 0 2 0.000
Houston Astros 0 1 0.000
Boston Red Sox 0 2 0.000