If I hadn’t promised myself I’d be completely impartial, I’d make my penultimate all-decade team the 2016 Cubs and call it a day. Rather than toss my credibility into the same centrifuge currently used to test the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19, I’ll give you a nice memory instead before moving on to a list that disappointingly includes just one current Cubs player.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 1, 2020
In tomorrow’s column, I’ll project my all-2020’s team, and I’d bet a couple of current Cubs will make that squad.
- Catcher – Buster Posey, Giants: Posey was a pretty easy choice. The San Francisco backstop played to a 42.2 WAR and collected a closet full of hardware, earning a Rookie of the Year award, an MVP, four Silver Sluggers, and three World Series rings.
- First Base – Joey Votto, Reds: His .944 OPS led all first baseman in the decade and Votto placed in the top 10 in MVP voting six times, winning the award in 2010.
- Second Base – Robinson Cano, Yankees/Mariners: Cano was an All-Star in seven of the decade’s first eight seasons. His powerful swing generated a .303 average and 237 home runs and his defense netted him a couple of Gold Gloves in that span.
- Shortstop – Francisco Lindor, Indians: The young phenom has already earned 27.8 WAR in a career that started in 2015, barely trailing leaders Andrelton Simmons and Troy Tulowitzki, each of whom played for almost the entire decade.
- Third Base – Adrián Beltré, Rangers: Underrated defensively and a true slugger at the plate, Beltré earned 51 WAR while slashing .307/.358/.872 with 227 homers and a OPS+ of 130 over 10 seasons.
- Outfield – Mike Trout, Angels: An obvious selection, Trout has been worth 73 wins above replacement over nine seasons, hit 285 home runs in that time, and added 200 stolen bases. He has three AL MVP awards and finished second another four times. To say Trout is baseball’s best active player somehow seems like it is vastly undervaluing his efforts.
- Outfield – Mookie Betts, Red Sox: The perennial Gold Glover had the best single-season WAR (10.9) of any player during the decade when he won AL MVP in 2018, and his total WAR trailed only Trout among outfielders. Further, his 113 DRS made him one of just four outfielders to eclipse the 100 mark in the 2010’s.
- Outfield – Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins/Yankees: It was a tossup between Stanton and Andrew McCutchen, as both players had nearly identical stats all decade. McCutchen has a 2.1 WAR lead, but Stanton has a sizable advantage in OPS+ (154 to 135).
- DH – Nelson Cruz, Rangers/Mariners/Twins: The Boomstick is an ageless wonder and can routinely be counted on to provide elite offense. In fact, he averaged a .916 OPS and 41 home runs in his age 34-39 seasons, and totaled 356 taters in 10 seasons.
- SP – Max Scherzer, Tigers/Nationals: Mad Max might be the most dominant pitcher of the decade, striking out 2,452 batters with just 534 walks in 2,063 innings. Scherzer earned three Cy Young awards, going 151-74 with a 139 ERA+ and was equally incredible in both leagues.
- SP – Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Though the lefty has struggled in the playoffs throughout his career, he has been nothing short of elite during the regular season. He owns three Cy Youngs and a league MVP award (2014), winning at a .715 clip. Kershaw has never lost more than 10 games in a season.
- SP – Jacob deGrom, Mets: The sabermetric poster child was Rookie of the Year in 2014 and owns two consecutive Cy Young awards with a career ERA+ of 148. That’s good.
- SP – Justin Verlander, Tigers/Astros: Mr. Kate Upton has been slightly better than Scherzer statistically and has an outside chance to be baseball’s next 300-game winner if he can maintain his current level of play for four more seasons. That will mean pitching until he’s at least 40, but he shows little sign of slowing down. Verlander was also a league MVP, winning the award in 2011 with the Tigers.
- SP – Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks: Greinke played for five teams in the 2010’s, starting the decade with the Royals and making stops with the Brewers, Dodgers, and Astros. The 35-year old righty posted a 3.18 ERA throughout the 2010’s. Those numbers underscore his successful transition from pure power pitcher to master of his offspeed stuff. Greinke went 178-66 from 2010-19, with six Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers along the way.
- Closer – Craig Kimbrel, Braves/Red Sox/Cubs: Dirty Craig was the decade’s saves leader with 346 and he backed that with a pristine 2.08 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Kimbrel’s 41.1% strikeout rate amounted to a mind-blowing 14.6 K-rate and trailed only Josh Hader among pitchers with at least 100 relief appearances.
- Manager – Bruce Bochy, Giants: Despite leading San Francisco to just above a .500 record in 10 seasons, Bochy did lead the Giants to thee World Series championships, giving him a slight edge over Joe Maddon.
Cubs News & Notes
- Javier Báez seems pretty comfortable as a catcher and looks like he is trying to make Willson Contreras expendable. Of course, it’s all just for fun.
- The Cubs are reportedly projected to sign amateur shortstop Cristian Hernandez in international free agency. The 16-year-old prospect from the Dominican Republic is often compared to Carlos Correa and Manny Machado, and would receive a $3.5 million signing bonus.
- Here’s the skinny on Hernandez, including some video. A couple scouting services have the shortstop ranked as the number one overall IFA available this year.
- The Sim-Cubs beat the Pirates 9-7 yesterday as Kimbrel shut the door on a late Pittsburgh rally to earn the save. Kris Bryant was 2-for-2 with three walks and two RBI.
- Meanwhile, the Strat-O-Matic Cubs were pasted 10-2 in Pittsburgh, with ex-Cub Derek Holland picking up the win over Tyler Chatwood, who struggled to throw strikes.
- Maddon said he has yet to watch Game 7 of the ’16 World Series and will likely wait until he has retired before doing so.
Apropos of Nothing
Just before rock star David Bowie died of cancer in 2016, the writing-directing team of James Gunn and Kevin Feige were planning to ask the original Starman to cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. With so much free time, I’ve been catching up on my music and movie trivia.
Odds & Sods
Perspective is everything. Still, being single and sheltered inside for what is now the start of my fifth week is incredibly taxing.
If you’re single right now I just want you to take a deep breath and remember you could be quarantined & having massive arguments over who is using more toilet paper. Stay frosty singlets.
— Dane Cook (@DaneCook) April 6, 2020
MLB News & Notes
Outfielder Al Kaline, a first ballot Hall of Famer, has passed away at the age of 85. The retired Tiger played 22 seasons in Detroit, and was instrumental in the development of Nick Castellanos, who wore number 6 in Chicago as a tribute to his mentor.
Baseball appears to be making plans to resume spring training and start the 2020 season some time in May, though that ray of sunshine comes with a number of caveats.
Baseball players went on strike on this date in 1972, wiping out the first two weeks weeks of the season. Organized by Marvin Miller, it was the first MLBPA strike in the game’s history.
I don’t often post Cubs Insider tweets in this space, but this is for a great cause.
— Cubs Insider (@realcubsinsider) April 7, 2020
They Said It
- “We love our sports in Chicago, and we’d rather be here in Soldier Field or Wrigley or Sox Park or the United Center or Wintrust, cheering on our players and having a good time with our friends. But as we know, this crisis has changed almost everything, and particularly our sports. Coming to these parks would be dangerous and deadly to ourselves and to our city. … They’re not playing, and neither are we. Thanks to their support, we’ll be leveraging their vast network to drill down on the message of ‘stay home and save lives’ here in Chicago and across our state.” – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Tuesday Walk Up Song
What a Day That Was by the Talking Heads – David Byrne really brings this Catherine Wheel song to life with this brilliant Heads’ live performance from the 1984 concert flick Stop Making Sense, produced and directed by Jonathan Demme. I never tire of this song, or the entire set, for that matter.