Chicago Cubs: Confident Contenders

The Cubs were probably last season’s biggest surprise with 97 wins from a lineup heavy on young position players and experienced pitching. Looking to win 90 games again (a repeat Chicago last accomplished when Al Capone was the city’s most prominent citizen), Chicago has made some nice off-season moves that augur well for keeping the Northsiders at or near the top of the NL Central.

More after the jump.

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Quiz: Free Swingers (stumped)

2015 NL RoY Kris Bryant makes this list of modern batters who were not shy about taking their cuts. What is the unusual seasonal batting feat that only these players have achieved since 1901?

Our readers zeroed in on BABIP as part of the quiz answer, but didn’t get that only these players had a qualified season since 1901 with a .350 BABIP that was one-third higher than their overall batting average. Those seasons are after the jump.
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Circle of Greats Round 121 Balloting

This post is for voting and discussion in the 121st round of balloting for the Circle of Greats (COG).  This is the second of two rounds of balloting that will bring the Circle of Greats membership to a total of 121, matching the current members of the Hall of Fame elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) in regular (116) or run-off (3) elections, plus the two members (Lou Gehrig, Roberto Clemente) enshrined by special election. This will be the final round of COG balloting until the next Hall of Fame members are elected by the BBWAA. Rules and lists are after the jump.

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Ruth’s Chris: Best and Worst First Ball Hitters

Or maybe it’s Chris is Ruth. In fact, if your name is (or sounds like) Chris, you can put up some Ruthian OPS scores when you put the first pitch in play, as shown by this list.

Rk Player OPS ▾ OPStot Diff PA PAtot AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BA OBP SLG TB GDP
1 Chris Davis 1.554 .923 .631 74 670 74 36 10 0 11 23 .486 .486 1.068 79 1
2 Khris Davis 1.504 .828 .676 46 440 44 18 3 0 9 23 .409 .413 1.091 48 3
3 Kris Bryant 1.466 .858 .608 75 650 72 36 7 3 7 26 .500 .493 .972 70 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/2/2016.

Those are the top 3 OPS scores from 2015 when putting the first pitch in play, based on a minimum 400 total PA and 40 first pitches put in play.

More after the jump.

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Circle of Greats Round 120 Balloting

This post is for voting and discussion in the 120th round of balloting for the Circle of Greats (COG).  This is the first of two rounds of balloting that will bring the Circle of Greats membership to a total of 121, matching the current members of the Hall of Fame elected by the Baseball Writers of America in regular (116) or run-off (3) elections, plus the two members (Lou Gehrig, Roberto Clemente) enshrined by special election. Rules and lists are after the jump.

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200 Game Batteries

In the final segment of this series on long-time teammates, this post looks at the most durable battery-mates in games since 1914. With starting pitchers rarely making more than 40 starts in a season (in recent years, rarely more than 35) and with catchers generally accorded more relief during a season than players at other positions, I’ve lowered the bar from the 300 game standard for infielders and outfielders to 200 games for pitchers and catchers. That proved to be just about right, yielding the same number of batteries with 200 games as outfield combos with 300 starts together.

More after the jump.

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Circle of Greats Supplemental Redemption Round

This Circle of Greats (COG) vote is not to induct anyone into the Circle, but only to select three players who will be restored back to the main ballot after having been previously dropped from eligibility. As with earlier redemption rounds, this is an opportunity for voters to reconsider past candidates who have previously fallen off the regular induction ballots. This “supplemental” redemption round is being conducted prior to the final two rounds of COG balloting that will consider only holdover candidates already on the COG ballot. 

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