Even pitchers played role in Cubs’ high OPS

SHARE Even pitchers played role in Cubs’ high OPS

Travis Wood reacts after hitting a home run in the fourth inning of Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Giants on Saturday. | Nam Y. Huh/AP

During the regular season, Cubs hitters exceeded the average National League OPS at every position but right field, where they were dragged down by Jason Heyward’s seasonlong struggles.

That includes pitcher, where the Cubs’ .406 OPS was 66 points better than the league average. NL pitchers overall hit .135 with a .166 on-base percentage and a .174 slugging percentage for a .340 OPS. Cubs pitchers hit .157 with a .196 on-base percentage and a .209 slugging percentage.

Cubs pitchers were capable of helping themselves on occasion, as they did with Kyle Hendricks’ two-run single and Travis Wood’s home run in the team’s 5-2 victory Saturday against the Giants in Game 2 of the NL Division Series.

The outcome was more unusual for Hendricks than for Wood. Hendricks is a .099 career hitter with a .241 OPS and hit .138 with a .305 OPS this season.

Wood has shown power with nine career regular-season homers, all of which were hit before his conversion to relief last season limited his plate appearances. He had two singles and a walk in 12 plate appearances this season for a .182 batting average and .432 OPS. As a starter, he added a legitimate bat to the lineup in 2013 (.258 batting average, .639 OPS, three homers) and 2014 (.271, .700, three).

But the best-hitting Cubs pitcher in 2016 has been Jake Arrieta, who started Game 3 on Monday. He had a .262 batting average, .720 OPS and two homers in 70 plate appearances.

Baseball-Reference.com lists Arrieta with an offensive WAR of 0.8, third among pitchers behind the 0.9 of NL co-leaders Madison Bumgarner of the Giants and Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals.

Under Bill James’ runs created formula, Arrieta created eight runs. That works out to 4.3 runs created a game. It’s too small a sample for any deep conclusions, but that generally means a lineup of players performing at that level would be expected to score about 4.3 runs a game.

The Cubs were most above the average league OPS at first base. Cubs first basemen (almost entirely Anthony Rizzo) posted a .920 OPS; the NL average was .809. In the narrowest positive margin, the .737 OPS by Cubs shortstops (mostly Addison Russell) was 11 points higher than the NL average.

Cubs pitchers didn’t hit like position players, but they hit better than their pitching opposition. And every little edge counts.

Follow me on Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

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