Results tagged ‘ Jeff Samardzija ’
The end of 2012 marks the culmination of many ﬁrsts. It was baseball president Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer’s ﬁrst year at the Cubs’ helm. It was Dale Sveum’s ﬁrst full season as a major league manager. It was Anthony Rizzo’s ﬁrst year in a Cubs uniform and Jeff Samardzija’s ﬁrst real experience in the rotation. It was also the ﬁrst time since 1966 the team lost 100 games in a single season.
In other words, I think everybody is looking forward to saying goodbye to 2012 and popping the proverbial cork on a new year of Cubs baseball.
Although a 61-101 record isn’t what anyone involved with the Cubs was hoping for, everybody knew there was work to be done at the outset of the season. As we look back at the year, there were certainly stretches of good play, breakout performances, walk-off wins and plenty to feel positive about. But no one—from fans to players to the front ofﬁce—is happy with where the team is right now.
“I don’t think a celebration is in order,” said Epstein on his one-year anniversary with the Cubs. “I have a lot more gray hair now than I had a year ago. My wife reminds me of that all the time. But I do feel really energized by a lot of the things that are going on here.”
In the December issue of Vine Line, the Daily Herald’s Bruce Miles examines how the Cubs fared this year and what they did to strengthen their future prospects. It’s impossible to judge the 2012 calendar year by looking solely at the major league level. When Epstein, Hoyer and company came to Chicago, they talked of the need to restock the minor league system to provide a steady stream of homegrown talent to the big league club. And that’s exactly what the Cubs are doing. Respected hardball website Baseball Prospectus recently released a list of the top 10 prospects in the Cubs organization, and six of the 10 players were acquired or drafted in 2012.
It all started with the 2012 ﬁrst-year player draft, where the Cubs picked up outﬁelder Albert Almora (No. 1 on Baseball Prospectus’ list) and right-handed pitchers Pierce Johnson (No. 7) and Duane Underwood (No. 8). But it also included free agent signings like outﬁelder Jorge Soler (No. 3) and making full use of the trade deadline to ﬁll organizational holes with players like right-hander Arodys Vizcaino (No. 4) and third baseman Christian Villanueva (No. 9).
To say goodbye to 2012, Vine Line and Chicago Cubs photographer Stephen Green also look back at the best photos from the past season. Green, in his 30th year with the team, was there for every moment, from Bill Murray’s Opening Day hijinks to Bryan LaHair’s walk-off single to cap off the year.
We also have a preview of the Cubs Convention, a Q&A with outfielder Dave Sappelt and much more. For these stories, subscribe to Vine Line or pick up an issue at select Chicago-area retailers. We’ve also launched a Vine Line Twitter account at @cubsvineline to keep you posted on Cubs happenings up to the minute.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Whether you’re all about the tryptophan-induced football coma or you prefer bowling away the holidays with your family, we’ve got a bonus, Thanksgiving-themed edition of Cubsgrafs for you.
Let’s define a new toy stat—a “turkey”—based on the nickname given when a bowler rolls three strikes in a row. For baseball, we’ll tally a turkey each time a pitcher records a three-pitch strikeout. The results for the 2012 season, limited to Cubs with at least 20 innings, are below.
So who are the Cubs’ 2012 turkey champions? The answers may surprise you.
It turns out three relievers—Scott Maine, Shawn Camp and Alberto Cabrera—stood above the rest with more than 6 percent turkeys per batter faced. But it’s Camp who deserves special recognition for being so efficient with the strikeouts he did rack up. Nearly four out of every 10 of his K’s took the minimum three pitches. It turns out that, while Camp may have been a fair bit below the team’s average strikeout rate, he also had the bullpen’s highest strike percentage (64%). It’s a definite boost for the Cubs that they’ve re-signed Camp for 2013.
Similarly, Travis Wood may have been only average with his strikeout rate, but he established himself as the rotation’s leader in three-pitch K’s. He and fellow lefty Paul Maholm were pretty efficient when they did rack up strikeouts, while the actual K kings Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster were a little less direct to the end goal.
Now, there’s not much reason to think that’s a bad thing. Many times you want a pitcher to bury his secondary offerings and get batters to chase. But for tonight’s feast, we’ll hand out the drumsticks to Camp and Wood and let the rest work their way through some sides first.
The MVP awards were handed out Thursday night, signifying the official end of the the 2012 baseball season. But just because Spring Training is still months away doesn’t mean Cubs fans can’t get their baseball fix.
From Jan. 18-20, Cubs faithful will have an opportunity to meet more than 50 current and former players, coaches and front office associates at the 28th annual Cubs Convention. For the first time in the event’s history, it will be held at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers at 301 E. North Water St., and it promises to deliver all the fun and excitement of previous years.
Some of the headliners expected to attend this year include Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams; current stars Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson and Jeff Samardzija; and front office personnel like Dale Sveum, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
Individual weekend passes for the event went on sale earlier this month, and there are still some available. Each pass is $60 plus convenience fees. To purchase your pass, visit cubs.com or call 1-800-THE-CUBS.
Guests can also still book rooms at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers by calling the hotel at 800-233-4100. Ask for the Cubs Convention rate of $179/night plus tax. Guests who book a two-night stay will receive a limited edition, authenticated, autographed photo of Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson.
The convention will run from 1-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m-midnight Saturday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit cubs.com.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Jeff Samardzija and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler dominated the gridiron, the hardwood and the baseball diamond in their Indiana high school days more than a decade ago. And they continue to dominate their respective sports. Samardzija was solid in his first year in the Cubs’ rotation, while Cutler currently has the 6-1 Bears sitting atop the NFC North division. Cutler stopped by Wrigley Field in July to throw out the first pitch and sing the stretch.
Jeff Samardzija showed promise in his first major league season as a starter. (Photo by Stephen Green)
2012 Innings Pitched: 174.2 (28 G-28 GS)
2012 Pitching (all per 9 IP): 4.07 RA, 8.1 H, 2.9 BB, 1.0 HR, 9.3 K
2012 Wins Above Replacement (Fangraphs): 3.4
2013 Contract Status: Signed (Arbitration, First Year)
Repertoire (Avg. MPH): Four-seam (96), Sinker (95), Cutter (92), Splitter (86), Slider (85)
Perhaps nobody had higher expectations for Jeff Samardzija’s return to the rotation than the pitcher himself.
Samardzija was the Cubs’ most durable, and frequently most effective, starting pitcher this season. And he showed dramatic improvement in several areas that portend continued success.
Chief among them was his improved control. He walked just 7.8 percent of the batters he faced, significantly lower than the 13 percent rate he had in 2011, when he had a successful year out of the bullpen. His strikeouts increased from 23 percent to 25 percent, and his ground ball rate went from 43 percent to 47 percent. Samardzija leveraged his stuff better than before, even while doubling his innings before the Cubs shut him down after his Sept. 9 start.
To take a closer look at his arsenal, we’ll leverage PITCHf/x data as tagged by the excellent folks at Brooks Baseball and Baseball Prospectus (player card). Our graphs here present pitch usage as variants of fastballs (blue) and offspeed (green).
Both of Samardzija’s fastballs sit in the mid- to high-90s, and his sinker is made even more impressive by his ability to run a few extra inches of movement while matching the velocity of his four-seamer. Overall, he likes to move pitches away from batters—using more sinkers and splitters that fade away from lefties, while employing the cutter and slider against righties.
The splitter is Samardzija’s No. 1 weapon, and his improved command of his fastball has made the split even more devastating. Samardzija used the splitter, which averages 86 MPH, 20 percent of the time versus lefties and 12 percent against righties. He rarely threw it on the first pitch but employed it a third of the time when ahead in the count.
And there was specific improvement with the pitch too: Comparing 2011 to 2012, his splitter was called for a ball less often (46% to 37%), got more swings (49% to 59%) and got more whiffs when a batter did swing (43% to 46%). The last number has been part of a career improvement—in 2009 and 2010, Samardzija’s whiff/swing rate on the splitter was 24 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
All of which is to say that the right-hander’s improvement has been real and is likely sustainable. Samardzija, who turns 28 in January, is under team control through the 2015 season. He still stands to improve his consistency, but digging into the components of his 2012 campaign suggests he could be a workhorse atop the rotation for years to come.
Santo’s induction? Rizzo’s walk-off? Kerry’s farewell? Even though this season has been a struggle in the standings, there’s been no shortage of memorable Cubs highlights. Which events from the 2012 season made you stand up and take notice? This month, Vine Line is letting you decide on the best of 2012. Cast your vote and see the results in the October issue.
This afternoon, Jeff Samardzija helps the Cubs kick off a 10-game homestand with the Rockies, Brewers and Giants. If you’re on your way to Wrigley to cheer on the new-look North Siders, here’s your seventh-inning stretch lineup:
- Friday, August 24 - Glenn Beckert, former Cubs great
First Pitch: Rowdy Gaines, three-time Olympic Gold Medalist in swimming, Pregame: Several other Olympic swimmers are on hand for a special recognition, including Peter Vanderkaay, Davis Tarwater and Cullen Jones
- Saturday, August 25 - Fergie Jenkins, Cubs Hall of Fame pitcher
- Sunday, August 26 - Tom Dreesen, comedian and Chicago native
- Monday, August 27 – Buddy Guy, Grammy Award-winning blues legend
- Tuesday, August 28 – Len Kasper and Bob Brenly from the Budweiser Patio
First Pitch: Elisabeth Moss, actress and star of Mad Men
- Wednesday, August 29 – Umphrey’s McGee, popular rock jam band
- Thursday, August 30 – Doug Bruno and Oliver Purnell, DePaul University’s women’s and men’s head basketball coaches
- Friday, August 31 – Bobby Hansen, former Chicago Bulls guard and current Iowa basketball broadcaster
First Pitch: Fran McCaffery, University of Iowa men’s head basketball coach
- Saturday, September 1 – Jon Lovitz, actor and comedian
- Sunday, September 2 - TBD Chicago Blackhawks players
First Pitch: Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks star
While you’re at the park, remember to pick up the latest issue of Vine Line and the collectible Vine Line Gameday Edition and scorecard.
Cubs fans hope first baseman Anthony Rizzo will one day fuel the North Siders to a World Series title. While that’s unlikely to happen this season, it’s difficult to ignore the sizzling run the team has been on since Manager Dale Sveum inserted the prized prospect into the third spot of the batting order on June 26. The Cubs are 11-4 since Rizzo’s call-up, having won four straight three-game series and splitting a four-game set with the equally hot Braves.
During this stretch, the pitching has been as good as it’s been all season. Couple that with some timely hitting, and things are starting to click. Vine Line examined why the last 15 games have been such a successful stretch for the Cubs.
Offensive Resurgence: Alfonso Soriano is known as a streaky hitter, but he seems to be finding a more consistent groove. The veteran has hit .286 with three homers, three doubles and nine RBI since Rizzo’s call-up. Geovany Soto, who currently owns only a .189 batting average, has hit .257 with a homer and a pair of doubles in that time. And if you look at the team’s averages over the last month, Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker’s numbers continuously appear at the top. They might not play every day, but they have definitely made the most of their opportunities. Johnson is hitting .440 in his last 25 at-bats, while Baker has hit .318 during the hot stretch.
Starting Pitching: Though Jeff Samardzija has struggled, the rest of the rotation has been the real difference maker for the team during the hot streak. Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Paul Maholm and Travis Wood have gone a combined 9-1 over the last 15 games. In 62.1 innings, the quartet has surrendered a combined 11 earned runs (five of them coming in Garza’s July 5 start vs. Atlanta) and recorded a 1.59 ERA. The group has 46 strikeouts, or 6.67 K/9, while keeping the walks to a minimum (2.46 BB/9).
Anthony Rizzo: It all started with the phenom’s call-up. In his first game, he went 2-for-4 with a double and what would prove to be the game-winning RBI. He’s hit .356/.377/.627 in 61 plate appearances since. His altered stance has rewarded him with four homers, 10 RBI and just six strikeouts. While he’s crushing righties to the tune of a .429 average, the lefty is also hitting a respectable .250 against southpaws with a pair of homers. Many feared Rizzo woudln’t be able to hit lefties at the major league level. To say that Rizzo is carrying the team isn’t totally accurate, but he might very well have been the spark the Cubs were looking for.
For most of Spring Training, Cubs fans went back and forth over whether Jeff Samardzija would claim a spot in the Cubs rotation. But as the season rolls on and the numbers continue to add up, Samardzija has quietly made a case to earn another spot—one on July’s NL All-Star team. Though the Cubs currently sit at just 18-32, the former Notre Dame two-sport standout has been the anchor of a relatively strong starting staff. In 2012, Samardzija has:
- a 5-3 record (the Cubs are 7-3 in games he started)
- lasted through seven innings in four of his last seven starts and yielded no more than three runs in any of those outings
- 65 strikeouts, sixth in the NL
- 9.14 K/9, seventh in the NL
- a 1.6 WAR (wins above replacement), in the top 10 for NL pitchers
- a .70 HR/9, one of the 20 best in the NL (an impressive number considering the unpredictable winds of Wrigley Field)
- a respectable 3.09 ERA and 1.19 WHIP
Even considering Ryan Dempster’s solid start and Matt Garza’s high ceiling, the hard-throwing Samardzija has become the ace of the Cubs staff for now and likely the future.
Baseball has always been about reinvention. Even at the major league level, players change positions all the time.
But few have done so with the regularity, and consistent success, of Cubs No. 3 starter Jeff Samardzija. After an outstanding career on the gridiron at Notre Dame—and the promise of an NFL career as a wide receiver—Samardzija changed course when he was drafted in the fifth round by the Chicago Cubs.
After a few up-and-down years, the 6’5″, 225-pound flamethrower arrived as a major league pitcher in 2011, posting a 2.97 ERA in 75 appearances out of the bullpen. But there was one problem—Samardzija saw himself as a starter. So when the 2012 offseason rolled around, he headed to Arizona and dedicated himself to securing a spot in the Cubs rotation.
Five months later, Samardzija joined Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster as stalwarts in the Cubs biggest area of strength—their starting rotation. In the May issue of Vine Line, we look at Samardzija’s long road to the Cubs rotation, his mile-long competitive streak and how be became a more complete pitcher.
We also have an exclusive Q&A with the man who is reinventing what it means to play baseball the “Cubs Way,” General Manager Jed Hoyer. We go in depth about why he wanted the Cubs job (which he calls “the best in sports”) and his expectations for 2012 and beyond.
“If you acquire players who play hard—and we have a manager who is going to stress that—if you do the little things well, you always have that chance to catch lightning in a bottle,” Hoyer said.
Finally, we go inside the numbers with four key players—and the advanced metrics that explain why they are so important to the Cubs success.
This season, reinvent the way you get news from your favorite team by subscribing to vineline.mlblogs.com. If you live in the Chicago area, pick up the May issue at select Barnes and Noble, Jewel, Walgreens and Meier locations. Or subscribe to Vine Line today.