Franmil’s Many Cubs Connections, the Problem of the Baseball, Seiya’s Big Night, and Other Cubs Bullets

A couple days clear, I’ll still stay spoiler free and say only that the penultimate episode of ‘Better Call Saul’ was absolutely outstanding. Perfect setup for the finale, and I just have no idea what’s coming now.

  • Seiya Suzuki had a big night last night, notching three hits, including his first homer in a couple weeks:
  • The game re-floated Suzuki’s season slash line to above average, at .252/.321/.428/106 wRC+. It’s not quite what you’d want to see out of him – I think he can be quite a bit better when everything stabilizes – but I suppose it’s worth pointing out that, this year, the league average right fielder is hitting exactly average (. 239/.307/.404/100 wRC+), so even now, Suzuki has outproduced that by about 6%. Like I said, though, I think he’s going to stabilize to something a bit better as he gets more experience with big league pitching.
  • Franmil Reyes had a game-tying single in his Cubs debut, and his arrival made for some fun despite the loss. I didn’t realize just how many connections Reyes had to the Cubs until yesterday. Not only is there the Carter Hawkins thing with the Guardians, but there are connections on the coaching staff (Andy Green, Johnny Walker) to his time with the Padres. Moreover, Reyes says he is good friends with Pedro Strop, and he grew up watching Sammy Sosa and wanting to do ‘the hop’ when he hit homers. I mean, I already wanted this guy to be good for obvious reasons, but now I REALLY want to see him succeed.
  • All you can say is I agree with Stroman and I hope this helps turn Reyes back around:
  • From Cubs bench coach Andy Green, who managed Reyes in San Diego ( “We’ll just bet on the fact that he’s going to figure it out and be good again,” Green said. “I think there’s just a genuine belief, like, this guy’s hit his whole life. No, he hasn’t been the player that he’s been this year, but he’s really good. So it’s just kind of waiting for that to turn.”

We know the contact issues have become worse this year, and Sahadev Sharma highlights some more specifics:

– Reyes vs. breaking balls in 2021: .219 average, .521 slugging percentage, 43.6 percent whiff rate

– Reyes vs. breaking balls in 2022: .162 average, .242 slugging percentage, 55.1 percent whiff rate

His chase rate increased, but his contact rate when chasing dropped drastically.

2021 chase rate: 25.8 percent
2022 chase rate: 29.4 percent
2021 chase contact rate: 49.3 percent
2022 chase contact rate: 35.7 percent

Now, there’s the problem of the baseballs, an unanswered question that nobody outside of baseball’s central “brain trust” seems to know, with even front offices not really knowing what the equipment will be like a year from now. The issues Reyes has involving selectivity at the plate and contact go far beyond dead baseballs, but I suspect they have to be a contributing factor to the collapse in his numbers. His skill in trade is pummeling fly balls into the stands, and anything that makes baseballs less likely to go over the fence is going to have greater consequences here than with a more varied type of hitter. Despite no collapse in his exit velocity numbers or weird alterations in his launch angle, his flyballs are only going an average of 328 feet this year, compared to 351 last season.

  • In other words, if fly balls just don’t go as far now in the post-universal-humidor, post-ball-de-juiced era, then guys who rely SO HEAVILY on fly ball homers could be disproportionately hurt. That seems like a good point, and a legitimate concern about a guy like Reyes.
  • As soon as Zach McKinstry finally got that first hit with the Cubs, he immediately added two more, so clearly he’s going to be scorching now that the monkey is off his back.
  • Wanna see Pete Crow-Armstrong hitting a homer from the side view? Of course you do:
  • Relief prospect thoughts:
  • I don’t care a lick about the pitcher wins stat, but this is still very cool:

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