Against The Dodgers All Time Leaders – Through 2021

dodgersIn the past, we’ve looked at the all time leaders in both offensive and defensive categories for all 30 teams. This offseason, we will take our first ever look at those leaders against all 30 clubs. We continue today with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers began life in Brooklyn in 1883, moving to their current home on the west coast, along with their rival Giants, in 1957.  I’ve seen them play 27 times, including the first two games of their 2008 NLDS sweep against the Cubs and their pennant-clinching victory in the 2017 NLCS.

Home Runs

Name Total
Aramis Ramirez 3
Javy Baez 3
Paul Konerko 2
Alexei Ramirez 2
A.J. Pierzynski 2
Josh Fields 2
Willson Contreras 2

Hits

Name Total
Derrek Lee 15
Alfonso Soriano 13
Ryan Theriot 12

Runs

Name Total
Alexei Ramirez 7
A.J. Pierzynski 6
Alfonso Soriano 5
Ryan Theriot 5
Aramis Ramirez 5

RBI

Name Total
Alexei Ramirez 8
Aramis Ramirez 7
Mark DeRosa 7
Paul Konerko 7

Doubles

Name Total
Alexei Ramirez 4
Kris Bryant 4
Derrek Lee 4

Triples Continue reading →

October Leaders – Through 2020

With a full year of baseball on tap after last year’s troubles due to a combination of the corona virus and needless labor squabbles, I thought it would be interesting to look at the all time leaders in both offensive and defensive categories for each month in games that I have attended.

As we wrap up the regular season and head in to post-season play, the usual futility of Chicago teams has led to my attending only 36 games during the month, my lowest total since March.  I’ve managed to see a game on 21 out of the 31 days of the month, with 4 games on 2 separate occasions leading the way, and no games on the 10th, 13th, 16,th, 17th, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, and 31st.

Home Runs

Name Total
Kris Bryant 4
Javier Baez 3
Dexter Fowler 3
BJ Upton 3
Enrique Hernandez 3
Miguel Cabrera 3
Paul Konerko 3

Hits

Name Total
Kris Bryant 11
Javier Baez 11
Dexter Fowler 10
Anthony Rizzo 10

Runs

Name Total
Dexter Fowler 7
Juan Pierre 7
Paul Konerko 6
Daniel Murphy 6

RBI

Name Total
Kris Bryant 9
Paul Konerko 7
Miguel Cabrera 7
Ivan Rodriguez 7
Enrique Hernandez 7

Doubles

Name Total
Dexter Fowler 4
7 tied with  3

Triples Continue reading →

Division Series Batting Leaders

Both Wild Card games are in the books, with the Red Sox and the Dodgers moving on to their respective DSs, and the White Sox look to kick off their series with the Astros later today.  With that in mind, it’s time to take our first look at the offensive leaders from the 16 Division Series games I have attended since 2000.  So, without further ado, we start off with:

Home Runs

Name Total
B.J. Upton 3
Eric Karros 2
Paul Konerko 2
A.J. Pierzynski 2
Manny Ramirez 2
Chipper Jones 2

Hits

Name Total
Mark DeRosa 7
Manny Ramirez 5
A.J. Pierzynski 5
Jason Heyward 5
Javier Baez 5
Moises Alou 5
Derrek Lee 5
Carlos Pena 5

Runs

Name Total
Paul Konerko 5
Mark DeRosa 4
Manny Ramirez 4
A.J. Pierzynski 4
B.J. Upton 3
Juan Uribe 3
Continue reading →

Good Riddance

Back in February, the Cubs brought back Jake Arrieta on a one year deal with the hopes he still had enough in the tank to help bolster the rotation for one last go around.  To say it did not go well is putting it mildly and yesterday, the Cubs put Arrieta and their fans out of their misery, placing him on unconditional release waivers.

Including last night’s start, where he gave up 8 hits and 7 runs in the first inning against the Brewers, Arrieta’s 6.88 ERA will go down as the highest in Cubs history for a season with at least 20 starts.  Following the game, he scolded a reporter in the Zoom press conference who was in the Wrigley Field press box for wearing a mask.

When the Cubs signed Arrieta, I said:

Hopefully Cub fans have realistic expectations for Arrieta in 2021.  If they expect Arrieta to be a leader in the team’s attempts to repeat as division champions, they are likely to be disappointed and that disappointment may tarnish their memories of Arrieta and what he accomplished from 2014-2017.  If they see this as the nostalgia-based move it likely is, and accept the neither Arrieta nor the team will see the same success that they’ve become accustomed to, then it could be a nice distraction to take away from what looks to be a rebuilding (or reloading, at best) year.

Turns out even realistic expectations were too much to ask for.  The Arrieta signing completely bombed, and may have even ended his career.  Something to keep in mind for the future as fans demand that the recently traded Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and/or Kris Bryant be re-signed this winter.

By The Numbers – 44

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #44.  57 different players have donned #44 while playing in Chicago, 39 for the White Sox and a mere 18 for the Cubs.

Anthony Rizzo was acquired by the Cubs on January 6, 2012, the first piece of the rebuilding puzzle that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer brought to Chicago after their hiring.  He started the 2012 season in Triple A, but eventually earned the promotion and took over first base,  In 2014, he earned his first All Star nod and his first MVP votes.  In 2015, as the Cubs made a surprising run to the NLCS, Rizzo led the league in games and plate appearances and placed fourth in MVP voting.

In 2016, Rizzo replicated his fourth place MVP finish while also picking up a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award as he helped lead the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years.  On Opening Night in 2017, he walked the Commissioner’s Trophy on to the field (following a long rain delay).  He finished that year with more MVP attention as the Cubs made their third straight NLCS, losing to the Dodgers.  Rizzo added 3 additional Gold Gloves to his collection from 2018 – 2020.  The shine rubbed off of Rizzo a little in June of 2021, as he announced, on the day Chicago opened back up from COVID restrictions, that he had decided not to get vaccinated, leaving the Cubs as one of 8 teams still under restrictions for failing to reach the 85% plateau.  He was then, of course, traded to the Yankees and, just this morning, was placed on the IL with COVID.

On the other side of town, Dan Pasqua donned #44 after being acquired from the Yankees for Richard Dotson following the 1997 season.  His first season with the White Sox ended with a career high 20 home runs despite a disappointing .227 average, but a broken wrist suffered during the first week of the 1989 season limited him to just 73 games and 11 home runs.  Pasqua lost his regular slot in the lineup in 1990, as manager Jeff Torborg decided to start Sammy Sosa every day.  He appeared in 112 games, but had only 325 at bats despite a .274 average.

1991 saw Pasqua appear in a career high 134 games, with a .259 average and 18 home runs, his highest total since 1988.  A hamstring injury reduced Pasqua’s playing time again in 1992 and, with George Bell and Bo Jackson splitting time at DH in 1993, Pasqua again was the odd man out.  Pasqua’s 1994 season was cut short by arthroscopic knee surgery in May, which limited him to just 11 appearances and only 23 at bats, and he decided to retire after the season.

End Of An Era

When Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over baseball operations for the Cubs following the 2011 season, they started a rebuild effort that combined high draft picks with savvy trades in an effort to end the longest title drought in US professional sports.  They key to that rebuild, four prospects ranked in the Top 50 by nearly every publication prior to the 2014 season, became known as the Core Four.  Javier Baez, the 9th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Albert Almora, the 6th selection in 2012, Jorge Soler, a Cuban defector who signed a 9 year, $30 million contract in June of 2012, and Kris Bryant, the second overall pick in the 2013 draft were expected to lead the Cubs to the promised land and, in 2016, they did, each contributing to the team’s first World Series title in 108 years.

Bryant and Baez were the only two left heading into the 2021 season.  Both were traded today.

Kris Bryant is heading to the Giants, with OF Alexander Canario and RHP Caleb Killian coming back to the Cubs.  Bryant, the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year and the 2016 NL MVP, has seemingly been on the trading block for years now, ever since the Cubs won his service time grievance.  Ironically, he was the last one out the door, following yesterday’s trade of Anthony Rizzo and this afternoon’s moves with Craig Kimbrel and Javier Baez.

Canario, a top 15 prospect in the Giants’ system, showed flashes as a teenager prior to the pandemic, but has seen his strikeout rate increase as he’s gone up to higher levels of competition.  Killian, likely rated in the top 40 of the Giants system, was an 8th round pick in 2019 and has seem some success this year coming back from the pandemic.

After winning the World Series in 2016, the Cubs, with their young talent, looked to be on the verge of a dynasty.  5 years later, that dynasty is over without ever really starting, having dropped their last 4 consecutive post-season games dating back to the 2017 NLCS.  Now, 10 years after the start of the last rebuild, Jed Hoyer has to start again.

Bryant’s and Baez’s numbers in a Cubs uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

Continue reading →

End Of The Road

The rebirth of the Cubs, which began with the hiring of Theo Epstein in October of 2011 and culminated with their first World Series title in 108 years, officially came to an end this afternoon, as new GM Jed Hoyer shipped team leader Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees for rookie ball outfielder Kevin Alcantara and High-A righty Alexander Vizcaino.  The Cubs agreed to pay Rizzo’s remaining salary.

Vizcaino, 24, is already on the 40-man roster and ranked as the Yankees 11th best prospect at FanGraphs and 12th at Baseball America.  He is working his way back from a shoulder issue and has posted a combined 9.00 ERA in 6 games across two levels.  Alcantara, 18, is hitting .360 in 8 rookie league games and ranked 7th at FanGraphs and 14th at Baseball America.

Rizzo, who had been drafted by the Red Sox when Epstein and Hoyer were in their front office and was acquired by Hoyer when he became GM of the Padres, was the first big acquisition when the two reunited in Chicago.  He began the 2012 season in Triple A.  Recalled at the end of June, he quickly became a mainstay of the lineup and a crowd favorite, as the Cubs were rebuilding around him.  In 2013, he signed a long term contract extension, which expires at the end of this season.  He cemented his position in Cubs lore by catching the final out of the 2016 World Series, ending the longest championship drought in American professional sports.  However, as the Cubs have struggled to repeat the team success of that season, Rizzo has also struggled in later years, contributing to an offense that has severely regressed since 2016 and was one of the Cubs who refused to get the COVID vaccine, keeping the team below the 85% threshold for this 2021 season.

Rizzo’s numbers in a Cubs uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

Continue reading →

Trade Winds Are A Brewin’

With a little more than 24 hours remaining before the trade deadline, the White Sox finally made a move, acquiring second baseman César Hernández from Cleveland for Double A pitcher Konnor Pilkington.  Hernández, who won a Gold Glove and led the AL in doubles last year, has hit a career high 18 home runs while hitting .231 with 47 RBIs and a .738 OPS.  The White Sox have been looking for a second baseman since Nick Madrigal went down with a torn right hamstring in early June.

Pilkington, the third round pick of the White Sox in the 2018 draft, is 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA in 14 starts this year for Birmingham.  He was rated as the 17th best prospect in the White Sox system by Baseball America at the start of the 2020 season.  To make room for Hernández on the 40-man roster, the White Sox released right-handed pitcher Tyler Johnson.

Meanwhile, on the north side of town, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are not in the lineup for today’s tilt between the Cubs and the Reds.  One or both of them are expected to be moved prior to tomorrow’s deadline.

Tearing It Down

A few years from now, we will look back and ask ourselves exactly when did the Cubs rebuild officially begin.  Was it when Theo Epstein decided to walk away from the last year on his contract, leaving $10 million on the table?  Was it a few weeks later when fan-favorite Kyle Schwarber was non-tendered?  Or, was it yesterday, when the Cubs sent Yu Darvish, Victor Caratini, and cash to the Padres in exchange for Zach Davies, Owen Caissie, Reginald Preciado, Yeison Santana, and Ismael Mena.

Darvish, who has three years and $59 million left on the deal he signed before the 2018 season, went 8-3 with a 2.01 ERA in 12 starts for during the COVID-shortened season, finishing in second place in NL Cy Young Award voting.  Caratini was his personal catcher and hit .241 with 16 RBIs last year.  After struggling upon his arrival in Chicago, Darvish started to regain his form midway through 2019 and continued on into 2020, helping the Cubs win the Central Division title and return to the post-season after a one year absence.

Davies, 27, will become a free agent after the 2021 season.  He went 7-4 with a 2.73 ERA in 12 starts for the Padres in 2020.  The prospect package will not be of much help to the Cubs in the immediate future.  Caissie, an 18-year-old outfielder, was the Padres second round pick in this year’s draft.  Preciado, a 17 year old switch hitting shortstop, signed with the Padres in July of 2019 out of Panama.  The 20 year old Santana, also a shortstop, made his pro debut in 2018 in the Dominican Summer League. Outfielder Mena, 18, is a left handed hitting Dominican also signed in 2019.

Given the state of the NL Central, the Cubs may still contend for a division title next year.  Obviously, Jed Hoyer and company would prefer to retool on the fly and build up the farm system while still trying to compete.  But, this move definitely makes the Cubs weaker heading into 2021.  And, barring extensions, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Willson Contreras will all become free agents by the end of 2022.  It seems as though the Cubs contention window, which opened with a bang in 2015, closed with a whimper when they were swept out of the playoffs last October.  This trade did little to keep it open, but may have laid the groundwork for the next window.

Playoff Batting Leaders

Game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series is in the books and the White Sox look to close out the A’s this afternoon.  The NL Wild Card Series kicks off this afternoon, with the Cubs doing battle against the Marlins.  With that in mind, it’s time to take an updated look at the offensive leaders from the now 30 post-season games I have attended since 2000.  So, without further ado, we start off with:

Home Runs

Name Total
Kris Bryant 4
Javier Baez 3
Paul Konerko 3
B.J. Upton 3
Dexter Fowler 3
Enrique Hernandez 3

Hits

Name Total
Kris Bryant 11
Javier Baez 11
Dexter Fowler 10
Anthony Rizzo 10
Moises Alou 9
Jason Heyward 9

Runs

Name Total
Dexter Fowler 7
Paul Konerko 6
Daniel Murphy 6
A.J. Pierzynski 5
Kris Bryant 5
Javier Baez 5
Continue reading →