The past year of sports would have done Reggie Miller proud. Almost every major sports title has been determined by a team blowing a lead late in the game/series for the 2016 seasons.Read More
The 2016 World Series between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs has certainly been a unique one so far. One can't discuss this series without pointing to the historic championship dry spells that each team has endured. For the Indians, their last World Series appearance came in 1997 but the last time they actually took...Read More
The stage has been set and the day is finally here! With a combined 176 years of championship absence to their credit, Curt Ashcraft's Cleveland Indians and Matt Shock's Chicago Cubs are set to do battle in the 2016 World Series and end a title drought that has haunted each of these ball clubs for far too long.Read More
For those of you that don't already know, last August, a small-town kid from the middle-of-nowhere, Ohio decided to uplift his roots for a new and exciting opportunity in Phoenix, Arizona. If you haven't already figured it out, that small-town kid was me. I had never lived anywhere but Ohio during my lifetime, and outside of missing my family, friends, and sports teams (lacking Fox Sports Ohio in Arizona is REALLY cramping my style), the experience has been pretty incredible.Read More
Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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Pitchers and catchers are reporting this week, so it only seems appropriate to start talking about baseball. As the Chicago Cubs make their way to Mesa, AZ to begin spring practices, all eyes will be on young third baseman, Kris Bryant, as he enters his second season on the north side.
The dreaded “Sophomore Slump” comes up every time a high-profile rookie begins their career on an even moderately positive note. Can they keep up this torrid pace? How will they look once the league sees all of the scouting reports? Did the team miss when they drafted this guy?
I’m not here to say that these questions aren’t worth asking and that these players shouldn’t be evaluated objectively. But is the “Sophomore Slump” really as prevalent of a problem as the media makes it out to be? Or did the players that managed to avoid the slump go on to be great players because they didn’t fall off after that first year? Are they really just playing on another level than everybody else?
Let’s take a look.
We’ll start with Kris Bryant’s stat line for his first “full” season in the bigs (it should be noted that almost every player we’ll look at played a similar number of games in their first year as well).
As you can see, his rookie season really was all that it was cracked up to be. His numbers project him to be one of the top young players in the game, and he will almost have to fall off the face of the earth and move to Japan (Bryan LaHair style) in order to miss those projections.
But, when compared to other great rookies that we’ve seen come out, how do his numbers stack up?
As you can see, all of these guys went on to have pretty solid sophomore seasons. But were Bryant's numbers really that much more amazing than those of these other guys? Not at all. So it's not as if Boy Wonder went and set the bar too high for himself. He could very well have just as good, if not better, of a season in 2016 (and here's to hoping he does).
Now, let's look at the other guys for a bit. Sure, Starlin Castro turned out to be less than what the Cubs wanted him to be, but even he didn’t start to fall off until his third season (which could be due to the fact that every other piece of talent the Cubs had on their roster had been shipped out of town by then).
It's worth noting that Starlin Castro may very well have turned out to be exactly what the Cubs wanted him to be. Let's not forget that Castro was a prospect from the Jim Hendry era. So Theo Epstein's goal all along may have been to develop Castro enough to flip him for pitching (hence the fairly affordable contract with plenty of years of control left on it).
Bryce Harper fell off a bit in year two (injury woes), but he managed to improve in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. It’s safe to assume that Harper’s runs, hits, and home runs would’ve all been improved over the previous season had he not been injured. (In fact, using a simple proportion let's you project that had Harper played in the same number of games in 2013 as he did in 2012, he would've finished the season with 24 dingers, 84 runs, and 137 hits. That would most assuredly NOT be a slump.)
Josh Donaldson, with maybe the most pedestrian numbers of the group, saw a decent drop off in numbers, but I don't see anybody arguing that he's Mike Trout either. Perhaps Donaldson just isn't in that top tier of players? He's no slouch either, don't get me wrong, but maybe he's not as good as everybody lets on.
I say all that to say this: Kris Bryant, above all else, needs to stay healthy. He played enough games last year to be exposed by the scouting reports, and his numbers stayed strong, even into the post-season. He has shown that the raw skills and talent are there to make him, potentially, a historically great baseball player. He just needs to be himself and stay in the games.
Is there really a Sophomore Slump in baseball? Maybe so, but it seems to only strike those who really weren’t as good as advertised to begin with (again…Bryan LaHair style).
The Cubs wrapped up their busy week at MLB's Winter Meetings in Nashville, TN on Thursday. Epstein and Co. managed to add some pitching talent, deal some infield talent away, and sign Joe Maddon's favorite player...all in a matter of about 24 hours. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.
So, to break down all the action, I give you The Cubs Column: Winter Meetings Edition!Read More
Sadly, the season has ended a little early for my beloved Chicago Cubs. Not only did we have to deal with the humiliation of being swept by the Mets, but I also lost my bet with our own Curt Ashcraft. So Curt will not be forced to buy me a steak dinner at Hyde Park because the Cubs most assuredly did not win the World Series. But aside from that sadness, Cubs fans have quite a lot to be happy about after this season.Read More
Let’s all be honest with ourselves for a second, we aren’t experts and until our work is published on a major baseball publication, we won’t be. So, that’s why I’m not going to waste your time with numbers and stats that you don’t care about. I was told that Our Sports Report is about guys and their sports “opinions”, so that’s what you’re going to get. This is my first time writing for OSR and no better debut than during my favorite time of the year, the MLB Playoffs. So here it is, my thoughts, my opinions and yes, my World Series Champion…Read More
Ladies and gentlemen, you have no idea how much joy it gives me to type that title. I even went back and forth on whether to use the word “playoff” or “playoffs” (it’s gotta sound right, ya know?). I’ve been looking forward to writing this very edition of The Cubs Column ever since I began writing this thing two seasons ago.Read More
In case you hadn’t already noticed this year, Cubs starter, Jake Arrieta is good.
In fact, Jake Arrieta is really good.Read More
After batting just .235, with a .271 on base percentage and 18 errors over 105 games, Starlin Castro is no longer the every day shortstop for the Chicago Cubs. His replacement is the red-hot youngster that the Cubs received from the Oakland A’s in the Jeff Samardzija trade, Addison Russell. Castro’s benching demonstrates one universal baseball truth: when you play for a contending team, you can be a defensive liability OR an offensive liability, but not both at the same time.Read More
Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Follow us on Twitter! @OS_Report
With the Mid-Summer Classic in full swing, it's time for baseball fans to stop and reflect on the state of their favorite teams. In my case, that means taking a hard look at the Chicago Cubs.
This might surprise you, but for the first time in long time, I feel good about my beloved Cubbies at the All-Star Break. For once, it doesn't feel as if the season is already over with eighty more games to suffer through.
Don't get me wrong, there is still a lot of baseball left to be played, but the state of affairs on the North Side is strong. So, it is without further ado that I give you The Cubs Column: All-Star Break Edition.
Right now, the Chicago Cubs are seven games over .500 with a record of 47-40. This places them at third place in the very competitive NL Central division. They trail the Cardinals (who are playing out of their minds right now, despite numerous injuries) by eight games and the red-hot Pittsburgh Pirates by five and a half games.
While the Mini Bears are not out of contention to win the division, I just don't see them closing the gap between them and the Cardinals enough to take home the pennant. However, the Cubs currently hold a one-game lead in the race for the second Wild Card slot (which I picked them to win at the beginning of the season). In short, things are looking up.
You can find both Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant's names in the top three positions on the team in batting average, runs, home runs, runs batted in, and stolen bases. The bottom line: these guys can produce.
While the Cubs have found their leader in Anthony Rizzo, it remains to be seen as to whether or not Kris Bryant can continue to produce the way he has for the first half of the season. He appears to be as good as advertised, but it's always interesting to see how players perform once the entire league has seen them play.
The Cubs could stand to add one more quality arm before the trade deadline at the end of the month. Everybody in baseball figures the Cubs to be one of the teams bidding for the services of Cole Hamels. Hamels would be a solid addition to the Cubs rotation, but I would personally like to see them get a little more creative in their search for that final arm.
For whatever reason, I just can't shake the notion that the Cubs need to go after Stephen Strasburg in a big way. Sure, the Cubs would have to give a lot for him, but the Cubs have a logjam at shortstop and the Nationals have a shortstop who is shaky at best in the field. Strasburg is having a down year, but he is under contract for another season in Washington and the Nats just might be willing to part with him for the right price. This is a risky gamble for the Cubs, but the upside is too much to ignore.
As for the pitchers that are actually wearing a Cubs uniform right now, things are looking pretty good. Jake Arrieta has been the highlight of the starting rotation (seriously, his stuff is just downright disgusting...and his beard is fantastic). He currently leads the team with 10 wins, 123 strikeouts, and a 2.66 ERA. Not too shabby.
Meanwhile, the source of so much early-season frustration for Cubs fans, Jon Lester, is starting to come around. And by "come around" I mean that the Cubs are actually starting to give Lester some run support. Lester is currently 4-8 with a 3.59 ERA. While these are certainly not the numbers the Cubs had in mind when they signed him this offseason, they are trending in the right direction. Look for Jon Lester to have a strong second half and begin to erase some of the negative vibes that the Cubs faithful are sending his way in the Friendly Confines.
I still see the Cubs locking down that second Wild Card spot and losing the play in game (sorry all you Back to the Future believers). However, don't think that this means the Cubs won't be trying to win it all. Look for Epstein & Co. to be very active at the trade deadline and don't be surprised when Kyle Schwarber is called up before the 40-man roster expansions.
Rest assured, the Cubs will try everything possible to win now and carry the momentum they've built this season into next year.
One way or the other, the second half of the 2015 season is going to be a fun ride.
GO CUBS, GO!
Baseball has long been considered America’s pastime. Sadly, many tend to think it is time to move on from such a slow paced sport. In the modern age, everything is about speed, and a three-hour window filled with nine minutes of action isn't exactly lightning in a bottle type of entertainment. Despite its slow pace, there’s still something about a baseball game that draws in people from around the country. Baseball is a sport that offers something to everyone.Read More