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Scouting in Professional Sports: Science or Crapshoot?

May 29th, 2015 at 8:39 AM
By Tim Duxbury

In honor of more than one year of Cubs 101 here is a look back at one of our favorite articles from the past twelve months!

Scouting in professional sports is the most exact, ambiguous science out there. Every professional sport is defined by a prototypical archetype and yet so often we hear about undersized, bad-bodied, and “unathletic” players achieving success. According to what evaluators are supposed to be looking for, one would think that athletes like Dustin Pedroia, Russell Wilson, and Stephan Curry were destined to go pro in anything but sports. Why is it that athletes like Doug McDermott, current Creighton University forward, are overlooked because of subjective flaws like being “unathletic”? McDermott moved into 5th on the all-time NCAA division 1 scoring list this past season and yet most “experts” remain unimpressed with his prospects in the NBA. I understand that the college game does not translate 100% to the pro game and maybe I am ignorant in thinking that McDermott will be a much better NBA player than most folks are giving him credit for, but either way, McDermott’s projections have inspired me to dig a little deeper into just how much these “draft experts” can really be trusted.

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Chicago Cubs’ Sophomores Surging in Minors

May 26th, 2015 at 2:44 PM
By Tim Duxbury

Memorial Day is now behind us and the calendar is about to turn to June which means that the dog days of summer are fast approaching. The mid-summer grind is when most teams experience their greatest amount of attrition, which is a troubling sign for the Chicago Cubs, who have already seen Chris Denorfia, Jacob Turner, Tsuyoshi Wada, Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm, Dallas Beeler and Pierce Johnson make stints on the disabled list. However, this summer could spell opportunity for the likes of Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara, who are tearing up the Pacific Coast League.

Player

G

.ave/.obp/.slg

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

Alcantara

31

.252/.311/.488

3

4

6

15

4

Baez

24

.311/.388/.522

4

0

5

17

6

(Stats per baseball-reference.com)

Both Baez and Alcantara struggled during their rookie campaigns last fall (and again this spring for Alcantara) posting career batting averages below the Mendoza line (.200), but it looks like things are finally starting to click.

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Wada, Bryant Impressive in Cubs’ 2-1 Loss

May 25th, 2015 at 8:24 PM
By Tim Duxbury

The Chicago Cubs fell to the Washington Nationals 2-1 in game one of this week’s three-game set on Monday. Among the positive takeaways were the performances of, starting pitcher, Tsuyoshi Wada and Kris Bryant.

Wada, made his second start of the season in the place of Travis Wood and, despite failing to go deep into the game again, was very effective. Wada allowed just one run on four hits across 5.1 innings and walked away with a no decision. Wada will head into his next start sporting a 2.70 ERA and averaging 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

The Cubs’ offense looked a bit jetlagged as a whole as they only mustered five hits and one run against the Nats but Kris Bryant came ready to play. Bryant went 2-3 with a home run, his sixth of the season, out of the two-hole. According to ESPN.com, when Bryant bats second he is hitting .288 with five of his six bombs. Bryant is also hitting .288 out of the cleanup spot and .231 in the three-hole.

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Let the Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper Rivalry Begin

May 25th, 2015 at 12:41 PM
By Tim Duxbury

Back in 2012 baseball believed that it was about to witness the second coming, greatness unlike anyone seen before, baseball’s version of LeBron James, when Bryce Harper made his MLB debut. The hype surrounding the 19-year-old was overwhelming and unbelievable. Harper made the all-star team and won the National League rookie of the year award that year, but we believe that Kris Bryant will be better. Bryant, baseball’s latest obsession, hasn’t quite garnered the same blind praise that Harper did but his play this season is definitely getting him his fair share of air time on ESPN. Entering play today Bryant is hitting .273 with five home runs and five steals. Harper on the other hand, now 22-years-old, is leading the big leagues in ten offensive categories thanks to an impressive hot streak that started earlier this month.

The rivalry between the two Las Vegas products officially kicks off today as the Chicago Cubs will take on the Washington Nationals at 1:20 PM at Wrigley Field. It’s still too early to really compare the two but according to Bill James, Kris Bryant will blow Harper’s rookie campaign away in a number of areas:

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Chicago Cubs’ Rookies Rank Among Top in the Class

May 23rd, 2015 at 3:29 PM
By Tim Duxbury

As we all know, Chicago Cubs have three rookies in their everyday starting lineup and all three have been pretty successful through the first month and a half of the 2015 season. The most obvious statistic (and probably the most important) is the Cubs’ record, 23-18 entering play today. The Cubs trio of rookies; Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Jorge Soler, have been instrumental in getting the Cubs to where they are and figure to be just as important going forward; however, beyond just landing the team in second place in the National League Central division, Bryant, Russell and Soler are making an impression with their individual statistics as well:

NL Rookie Rank

Games

Hits

2B

HR

RBI

SB

Kris Bryant

6th

3rd

8th

3rd

1st

2nd

Addison Russell

13th

7th

(T) 2nd

(T) 4th

(T) 8th

(T) 8th

Jorge Soler

(T) 2nd

1st

(T) 2nd

(T) 4th

(T) 5th

N/A

(Stats per MLB.com)

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