Central Intelligence

Week 6: Central Intelligence

The Cubs only went 3-3 this last week! They even got swept in a doubleheader at home to the Padres. They did however take 2 of 3 from the Pirates over the weekend, and are now a ridiculous 15-3 against the NL Central in 2016. The Cubs still by far have the best record (27-9) and best run differential (+109) in baseball.

The Cardinals had an overall successful west coast road trip, as they went 4-2, including a sweep against the Angels. The Cardinals are now tied for second in the division with the Pirates, but the two teams are still 8.0 games behind the Cubs. The two teams are also two games out of the 2nd wild-card spot.

Chicago Cubs 27-9
Pittsburgh Pirates 19-17 8.0 GB
St. Louis Cardinals 20-18 8.0 GB
Milwaukee Brewers 16-22 12.0 GB
Cincinnati Reds 15-22 12.5 GB

Chicago Cubs

Cubs6

There are 12 position players in the MLB who are worth 1.8 wins or more (using fWAR). Three of those players come from the Chicago Cubs: Dexter Fowler (2.4), Kris Bryant (1.8), and Ben Zobrist (1.8). The Cubs also have Anthony Rizzo coming in at 1.7 fWAR and Addison Russell at 1.3. For comparison sake, the highest Red this season is Eugenio Suarez at 1.1.

Miguel Montero returned to the Cubs this past week. Montero got a treat in his first start back behind the plate, as he caught Jake Arrieta striking out 11 batters.

In the aftermath of Stephen Strasburg’s 7-year, $175 million contract extension, Jake Arrieta said that he would not give the Cubs a hometown discount if they want to extend him after his contract ends next season. He “hinted” that he is worth more than Strasburg. Buster Olney of ESPN doesn’t think the Cubs will end up extending Arrieta.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Addison Russell: .381/.435/.857, 2 HR, 225 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Jorge Soler: .118/.167/.176, 2 for 17, 8 K, -12 wRC+, -0.3 fWAR

This Week:

  • Tues (8:10), Wed (8:10), Thurs (1:40) at Brewers
  • Fri (10:15), Sat (7:15), Sun (8:05) at Giants

Milwaukee Brewers

Brewers6

The Brewers acquired RHP Jhan Marinez from the Rays in exchange for cash to help their struggling bullpen. Marinez is a hard thrower with nice upside, but he has been inconsistent throughout his mostly minor league career.

Buster Olney of ESPN wrote this week that the Brewers should trade Ryan Braun right now. Braun is off to a great start, hitting .367/.434/.586 with 7 HR, 166 wRC+, and 1.1 fWAR.  Olney writes that with the injury concerns Braun has recently had that the Brewers would be smart to trade him before anything bad could happen. There was an article in Forbes this week that the Cubs would be a good suitor for Braun.

Ryan Braun was out of the lineup on Saturday and Sunday because of a sore left wrist. The X-rays showed nothing of concern on Braun, so he should return to the Brewers lineup soon.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Kirk Nieuwenhuis: .417/.611/.583, 1 SB, 221 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Chris Carter: .000/.143/.000, 0 for 22, 11 K, -54 wRC+, -0.5 fWAR

This Week:

  • Tues (8:10), Wed (8:10), Thurs (1:40) vs Cubs
  • Fri (7:10), Sat (4:10), Sun (1:10) at Mets

Pittsburgh Pirates

Pirates6

The Pirates are 19-17 on the season, but have a -2 run differential. Compare that to the Cubs (+102), and the Cardinals (+49), and the Pirates have to feel pretty good about a second place tie in the division.

The Pirates finally got their first win against the Cubs in 2016 on Sunday. The Pirates had lost their first five games against this Cubs this season.

The Pirates are happy to have Jung Ho Kang back. He already has hit 4 home runs through his first 8 games, and has a 1.232 OPS. Kang has been playing exclusively at 3B, and that means David Freese moves to 1B only against LHP as part of a platoon with John Jaso. That’s a tough break for Freese, who has a 111 wRC+ on the season.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Andrew McCutchen: .429/.478/.810, 2 HR, 243 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Francisco Liriano: 4.2 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 4 BB, 15.43 ERA, 11.01 FIP, -0.3 fWAR

This Week

  • Mon (7:05), Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05), Thurs (7:05) vs Braves
  • Fri (7:05), Sat (4:05), Sun (1:35) vs Rockies

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals had a big sweep of the Angels in Los Angeles to begin the week. The Cardinals offense scored 25 runs in the three game series. The Cardinals did however lose 2 of 3 to the Dodgers in LA, but were able to win the series finale on Sunday Night Baseball.

The Cardinals may only be 19-17 on the season, but their +49 run differential is the 3rd best in baseball (trailing the Cubs at +109, and the Red Sox at +59.

Mike Leake finally had a good start for the Cardinals. He allowed just 1 run in 8.0 innings (6 H, 1 BB, 5 K) on Tuesday against the Angels. Leake has a 5.10 ERA/4.57 FIP on the season.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Matt Carpenter: .316/.462/.842, 3 HR, 224 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Carlos Martinez: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 7.28 FIP, -0.1 fWAR

This Week:

  • Tues (8:15), Wed (8:15), Thurs (7:15) vs Rockies
  • Fri (8:15), Sat (4:05), Sun (2:15) vs Diamondbacks

 Nick’s Power Rankings

  1. Chicago Cubs

  2. St. Louis Cardinals ↑1

  3. Pittsburgh Pirates ↓1

  4. Cincinnati Reds

  5. Milwaukee Brewers


Players of the Week

Pitcher: Jake Arrieta, Cubs: 13.0 IP, 18 K, 6 BB, 2.77 ERA, 1.93 FIP, 0.5 fWAR

Batter: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals: .316/.462/.842, 3 HR, 224 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR

 

All statistics only include games played through 5/14/16, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index).

5 thoughts on “Week 6: Central Intelligence

  1. At this point the biggest difference between Pirates/ Cards and Reds/Brewers may be the clubs’ perceptions of where they think they ultimately fit into the scheme of things.

    The former two are trying to win games from the top down; the latter two orgs seem quite happy to lose as many games as they might and perhaps even help that process along rather than stop or reverse it.

  2. I was checking out the league leaders in OBP in the NL. 14 of the top 25 players in OBP are in the NL Central Division. None from the Reds. Again, none from the Reds. Joey Votto came in at 40th. The Reds offense won’t get any better if this continues.

    • Pretty sad.

      League average OBP right now is .321. Only Votto (.353), Duvall (.330), and Cozart (.322) are above that mark.

  3. I know he’s gotta posture like all players do, but I really hope Arrieta doesn’t think he’s worth more than Strasburg. Age and track record matter. Arrieta has been REALLY good for 1.25 years. Not sure that’s worth 7 yrs and 200+ million to a to-be 31 yr old pitcher.

    Now, if he’s just as good this year as last (looks like he will be), I could easily see 5-150 or 6-175 for him… but he’ll want at least 7 years since that what everyone seems to be getting.

    • I hope the Cubs give Arrieta a stupid long contract for a stupid amount of money. And then I hope he hits the Age Curve. I hate the Stupid Cubs.

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