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Beyond the Ivy - A Cubs Rooftop Partner

Is this balance?

Friday, February 4, 2005

I haven't been real thrilled with the moves that have been made in the last week or so, but I'm wondering if these moves have made us a better team?

Last year, our offense was a little lobsided. Among the 16 NL teams, we finished:

  • First in Homeruns with 235, 20 more than second place Philly
  • First in total bases
  • First in extra base hits
  • Second in At-Bats
  • Second in Slugging Percentage with a .458 SLG
  • Fourth in Hits
  • Fourth in Doubles
  • Fifth in On-base plus slugging with a .786 OPS
  • Sixth in Batting Average with a .268 AVG
  • Seventh in RBI
  • Seventh in Runs
  • Seventh in Total Plate Appearances
  • Ninth in Strikeouts
  • Eleventh in On-base percentage with a .328 OBP
  • Eleventh in Bases on Balls per K (BB/K)
  • Eleventh in Triples
  • Eleventh in Stolen Bases
  • Fourteenth in Bases on Balls
  • Fourteenth in Bases on Balls per Plate Appearance (BB/PA)
  • Fourteenth in Groundball Flyball Ratio with a 1.12 GB/FB
  • Fourteenth in Ground into Double Plays
  • Fifteenth in Pitches per Plate Appearance

The next logical question is: How do the guys we have acquired this winter figure to change the offense?

Jerry Hairston Jr.

JHJ is projected as the Cubs new leadoff man. His primary strength appears to be a high on-base percentage. In four of his six (partial) years in the Majors JHJ has had an OBP above the Cubs .328 mark in 2004. While his career on-base is only .334, he has been trending upward, posting OBP's of .329, .353, and .378 in his last three years. If Hairston continues to perform at his 2004 levels, he'll help to significantly raise the Cubs' OBP.

Another area JHJ can help the Cubs is with his feet. He stole 13 bases for the Orioles last season in 86 games, so with increased playing time he'll probably steal 20-25 bases for the Cubs next year. His speed may also help him in the outfield next year. Although he is a natural second baseman, he is likely to see the majority of his playing time in left field and as a super-utility player.

Hairston's biggest deficiency is in the power categories. He managed only two homeruns in 287 at-bats last year. In fact, this guy is a veritable Rey 'boom-boom' Sanchez with the bat. He has 26 career round trippers in 1825 AB. This would be one home run every 70.2 AB. Ouch.

Jeromy Burnitz

The much maligned Burnitz has a shot at being being servicable in right field. Unfortunately, his best characteristic may be that he swings the bat from the left hand side of the plate. The guy has some power, but he isn't too consistent. The chart below shows his career rate stats from year to year.

js020405_burnitz_career.gif

The next two charts show that Burnitz plate discipline has eroded over the past few years. He is taking far fewer bases on balls per plate appearance, and more strikeouts per walk.

js020405_burnitz_BBperK.gif js020405_burnitz_BBperPA.gif
Posted by Byron at February 4, 2005 2:53 PM | Bookmark and Share | BallHype: hype it up!
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2 Comments

I think the expectations of Hairston being the leadoff man are a little overreaching. It would be great if he could win the left field job and become the steady leadoff hitter the team needs, but I think those expectations are a bit high for a guy that just played half a season and was going to offered an OPPORTUNITY to win a starting job with a fourth place team.

As for Jeromy, I don't expect much. His hot streaks are the type that can carry a team for a week or so, and you just cross your fingers and hope his 1-28 slumps don't hurt the team too much. One thing that is good about Jeromy is that he probably won't throw a hissy fit if he's in a slump and Dusty decides to move him down in the order.

I still believe that our line-up, regardless of who may play left field, matches up well with the rest of the NL Central and a healthy pithcing staff is clearly better than the rest of the division.

This was a good article, Byron. Next time, you should post something like this on the goatriders front page! :o)

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