Baseball

Since we’re now officially halfway through the regular season (sure does feel like it flew by), I figured it would be a good time to take a quick peek and evaluate how everyone has done so far in the season. I’m only going to include players that are currently in the lineup, and not those who have gone on to live at the IL Farm Upstate.

First up today will be the infielders, tomorrow the OF, starters on Thursday and then the bullpen on Friday. Your standard disclaimer applies here that these are only my (correct) opinions, and not any hard and fast conclusions. Discussion is welcome on twitter, which I’m sure will be completely professional and not at all mean-spirited. Unless otherwise noted, all stats courtesy of Fangraphs Dot Com.

Jose Abreu

.253/.354/.786

9.0% BB Rate / 24.2% K Rate

15 HR / 66 RBI / 45 R

.339 wOBA / 117 wRC+ / 1.2 WAR

On the surface Jose Abreu’s numbers are pretty much in line with what he’s put up in his career, with the exception of his slash line. His walk and strikeout rates are where they should be (with the BB rate actually a career high if this continues), his dinger and RBI totals are on target for career norms and his WAR and wRC+ are right on the money. His average can be explained away by his .294 BABIP as simply bad luck, but what can’t be brushed away is his OPS. Were this to continue through the 2nd half, the .786 mark would be the worst of his career.

The other thing is that for the first time I can ever remember, Jose is failing the eye test. My man is hurt, and whether it’s his knees from trying to carry the team on his back or just a collection of maladies, Jose is feeling the wear and tear maybe more than ever before. The all star break couldn’t have come at a better time for Jose, and Eloy’s pending return even moreso. At this point in his career, what Jose needs is maintenance days off. Andrew Vaughn and Eloy will be able to provide those. With rest, I feel his power numbers will be back to where they typically are for his career.

GRADE: B

Tim Anderson

.309/.345/.770

5.2% BB Rate / 23.6% K Rate

6 HR / 32 RBI / 55 R / 14 SB

.335 wOBA / 114 wRC+ / 2.1 WAR

The first half of the season is what we’ve come to expect from Tim Anderson over the past 2 years. Low walk rate, decent K rate, great contact rate and an excellent batting average. Honestly, Tim looks as good this year as he’s ever been, with the benefit of the difference between his batting average and OBP the highest we’ve ever seen. Tim is seeing the ball well, he’s dangerous on the basepaths, and he’s playing some of the best defense of his career with a UZR rating of 0.6, which would be the highest he’s had since 2016. I have no complaints.

GRADE: A

Yoan Moncada

.272/.401(!)/.390

16.5% BB Rate / 25.1% K Rate

5 HR/ 39 RBI / 38 R

.357 wOBA / 128 wRC+ / 2.8 WAR

One of the more divisive players on the team (because he’s handsome, you see), Yoan Moncada has put up some of his best statistics everywhere this year but his power numbers. With his line drive percentage the highest of his career (30.5%) and his fly ball percentage the lowest it’s ever been (27.9%) the fact that he’s not elevating the ball as much would make his low dinger total seem accurate. With his hard hit rate sitting just a skosh below his career average of 37% (36.9% to be exact), all it would take to bust out in the dinger department would be to elevate the ball a bit more. With the nagging shoulder issue being the likely culprit for his lack of elevation, the sooner that feels better the more likely the barrage is imminent. The shoulder would also explain why his throws across the infield have been much more wild than in the past. It’s something to keep an eye on, but overall not too concerning.

GRADE: B+

Yasmani Grandal

.188/.394/.824

24.4% BB Rate (LOL) / 26% K Rate

14 HR / 48 RBI / 42 R

.365 wOBA / 134 wRC+ / 1.9 WAR / .199 BABIP (Also LOL)

The other divisive player amongst the fanbase is our (currently injured) #1 catcher Yaz. He’s an easy target for people who think that batting average is the end all be all for baseball stats. Looking at everything else however, and he’s actually one of the best hitters on the team behind target #2 of the Meatball Masses, Yoan Moncada. With his hilariously low BABIP and insanely high BB rate, Grandal was due to have a massive market correction to his batting average. Sadly the Sox let him continue to play with a bum calf muscle, which when tight can tug on the tendons of the knee and most likely lead to one of them shredding. With a 4-6 week timeframe for his return, I decided to keep him on the list. Here’s hoping his robo-knee can handle the load the rest of the way for the Sox when he returns at the beginning of September, as his pitch framing numbers are sorely missed.

GRADE: A

Zack Collins

.230/.331/.712

12.3% BB Rate / 33.2% K Rate

3 HR / 21 RBI / 17 R

.317 wOBA / 102 wRC+ / -0.2 WAR

As the current replacement for Yasmani Grandal, Zack Collins has thus far left something to be desired. While he has put up decent power numbers in the limited times that he’s started behind the plate, his strikeout rate combine with his dismal defensive and framing numbers should give Rick Hahn pause before he skips this position when looking for help at the trade deadline. Collins is fine for a backup catcher spot, but so far he hasn’t proven to be able to handle the day to day duties of managing a pitching rotation from behind the dish. He’ll have the first few weeks after the All Star break to prove he belongs there, and hopefully with everyday starts things will begin to improve for him.

GRADE: C-

Danny Mendick

.204/.305/.589

11.4% BB Rate / 25% K Rate

2 HR / 17 RBI / 12 R

.272 wOBA / 72 wRC+ / .03 WAR

Danny Mendick has done an acceptable job manning 2B in the absence of Nick Madrigal after his hamstring exploded a few weeks ago. He plays plus defense around the infield with an average of a 1.2 UZR rating, and doesn’t kill you at the plate. He’s not an every day player, however, and I believe that Rick Hahn has 2B pegged as his trade deadline priority. With Trevor Story or Adam Frazier (hopefully) manning that spot going forward, Mendick can spell the rest of the infield when they need a day off.

Grade: C+

 

 

Everything Else

I know we’re all trying to move on from the extended fart sound that was the Hawks’ ’18-19 season, but at FFUD we revel in our misery and the pointlessness of it all, so we’re going to give you our year-end player reviews in all their sadness and glory. And who better to start with than the man, the myth, the legend, Corey Crawford?

39 GP – .908 SV% — 2.93 GAA

.913 SV% at evens – .880 SV% on the PK

Oh Corey Crawford, the linchpin of this team, steeped in drama nearly all year making not one but two comebacks, and proving he’s still among the elite in this league. There were rocky times and a definitive drop in quality for a while, and after the second concussion it was legitimately debated if he could or should come back at all—I openly advocated that he should not, for the record. And yet he proved his worth time and time again and now there are still more questions than answers. Let’s dig in:

It Comes with a Free Frogurt

It is beyond a shadow of a doubt at this point that Crawford is the most important player on the team and that he’s basically a complete badass for all the shit he’s put up with on and off the ice. Remember how at the beginning of the season the organ-I-zation declared him ready to play, which was news to everyone, including to Crawford himself? It seemed like the perfect set-up for Bowman to throw him under the bus in short order. And then when he did come back in mid-October, he wasn’t exactly the Crawford of old, throwing out a .901 SV% and 3.27 GAA at evens in 23 games. On the penalty kill he was a woeful .895.

Yet he was dealing with The Defense From Hell and still managed to have some gems as he got back into form after not playing for 10 fucking months. For example, by mid-November he got his first shutout against the Blues (who admittedly sucked a lot more then than later in the season). Crow stopped 39 of 40 shots against the Wild a couple days later, and played extremely well against a blisteringly fast Flames team, all the while facing anywhere from 30-40 shots nearly every night.

You all know about the second concussion thanks to perennial shithead Evander Kane. What matters for our purposes is how Crawford ignored the (rather logical) calls for him to hang it up, worked his way back, and finished the season better than his first go-round. He put up a .932 SV% and 1.98 GAA at evens over his last 16 games. He also got his only other shutout of the season against Montreal in an effort that deserves every cheesy sportswriting superlative you want to throw at it (perhaps “flawless,” “sparkling,” “textbook,” I can go on here).

Even when the Hawks were in the process of shitting the bed and falling out of the wild card race, it was rarely on Crow’s shoulders. And that includes when he was literally shitting his pants and had to be replaced against the Leafs in the middle of March. Crawford silenced all the doubters (including your truly) about his capabilities in net, his near super-human ability to work his way back from serious injury, and his penchant for competing up until the absolute final whistle.

The Frogurt is Also Cursed

But that doesn’t mean that the injuries haven’t taken a toll—it just means that Crawford is forging ahead as IF they haven’t but that’s not necessarily reality. The Hawks can and should give him the benefit of every doubt and act under the assumption that he’ll start next year and pick things up where he left them, with that .932, not the early-season wobbles. No matter what, though, he needs to address his PK performance (as does the whole team, obviously), and aim for consistency that goes longer than the stretch at the end of this past season.

But, his history of concussions can never be far from the conversation because no one knows what the longer-term ramifications are or what decision he may be forced to take should he sustain another one. On top of that, Crawford pulled a groin muscle in his last game, which isn’t terrifying in and of itself, especially with an entire offseason to heal, but it’s indicative of what happens to everyone in their mid-30s, and particularly to NHL goalies.

Crawford’s contract is up after the 2019-20 season as well, throwing yet another question into the mix. If he doesn’t play well, should they trade him before the deadline and try to get something, anything for him? If he’s playing lights out will he accept a short extension for a couple years since that’s the only wise move the Hawks could make long-term? Can they develop a viable replacement, Collin “Superfluous L” Delia or otherwise, while Crow still takes the majority of the starts? (OK, that was three questions not one but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEANT.)

All of this is to say that next season very well may be Corey Crawford’s last season as a Blackhawk, for any number of reasons. It makes the imperative for the team to get good NOW that much stronger since it’s impossible to say what the endgame looks like, or if it even would be an endgame next season.

If there were any justice in this world, Crawford would have a Vezina-worthy 2019-2020 season and ride off into the proverbial sunset with at least a conference championship, if not one more Cup to his name. But there is no justice here, so we’ll have to hope he stays healthy, plays at his highest level, and that the Hawks don’t totally fuck up the roster.

Everything Else

They were ostensibly on the third line, at least when the season started, though neither ended up there when the season was over. They shouldn’t be any higher than the third line when next season starts either. But we’ll get to that.

Andrew Shaw

Regular Season: 80 games, 20 goals, 19 assists, 39 points, +12, 0.55 Behind The Net Rating, 16.51 Corsi per 60 (+5.7 Corsi Relative per 60)

Playoffs: 12 games, 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, +5, 2.44 Behind the Net Rating, 10.99 Corsi per 60 (+17.9 Corsi Relative per 60)

Everything Else

I’m going to jump out of turn here, and instead of crawling up the depth chart sequentially we’ll jump ahead  to a player who is very much in the news and very likely is going to be much more in the news in the coming days. And that’s Patrick Sharp.

Regular Season: 82 games, 34 goals, 44 assists, 78 points, +13, 0.53 Behind The Net Rating, 17.62 Corsi per 60, (+7.9 Corsi Relative per 60)

Playoffs: 19 games, 5 goals, 5 assists, 10 points, -2, -0.91 Behind The Net Rating, -8.6 Corsi per 60 (-9.1 Corsi Relative per 60)

Everything Else

Let’s keep rolling on here, and we’ll go with a couple of the spare parts that might have a bigger role to play next year. Maybe. We’ll start with the apple of my eye:

Note: This is also where I would have stuck Peter Regin, but as I think there’s utterly no chance he’ll be brought back, we’re going to skip him for now.

Jeremy Morin

Regular Season: 24 games, 5 goals, 6 assists, 11 points, +5, 1.29 Behind The Net Rating, 28.26 Corsi per 60 (+23.7 Corsi Relative per 60)

I’ll skip the playoffs as he barely played in two games.

Everything Else

Come to the end of the defense, which ends with the Hawk most likely to take home personal silverware this season. Mostly due to his excellent play, with slight credit to Eddie Olczyk banging the drum from November on, Keith has been the Norris front-runner for a while. He added a second gold-medal as well this year, the only time he didn’t have to drag around a jack-cheese soaked partner. How much that balances out his not taking the toughest competition is up for debate. But wherever you land on that, Keith had a mostly excellent season.

Regular Season: 79 games, 6 goals, 55, assists, 61 points, +22, 0.13 Behind The Net Rating, 16.40 Corsi per 60 (+7.2 Corsi Relative per 60).

Playoffs: 19 games, 4 goals, 7 assists, 11 points, +7, 1.57 Behind The Net Rating, -1.91 Corsi per 60 (+0.4 Corsi Relative per 60)

Everything Else

Well here’s the one you’ve probably been waiting for, or one of them. Certainly no player generated more debate, or more jokes, than Brent Seabrook. We beat the drum of suckage all year, while other screamed just as passionately that we weren’t seeing his brilliance correctly. The truth is almost certainly in the middle (but leaned to our side ha ha ha). Let’s see if we can find it.