Add Maddon, subtract six Cubs
Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon might be a little lonely at the All-Star Game a week from today.
One year after the Cubs led the league with seven allstars and became the second major-league team to have its entire infield start an All-Star Game, Chicago didn’t have a single player elected to start this year’s game in Miami. No problem, Maddon said. “I thought the voting was appropriate and right and good,” Maddon said on ESPN after the all-star rosters were announced Sunday.
Maddon will manage the National League team by virtue of the Cubs representing the National League in the World Series last October en route to winning their first title since 1908.
Last year, the Cubs had an MLB-best 53-35 record and a seven-game lead in the National League Central at the all-star break.
Infielders Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell and Kris Bryant were elected to start the All-Star Game, as was center fielder Dexter Fowler.
They were also represented by starting pitchers John Lester and Jake Arrieta.
This year, the Cubs are 41-41, 2½ games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central and 6½ games behind the Colorado Rockies for the final wild-card spot, with six games remaining before the All-Star break.
Their only all-star selection Sunday was closer Wade Davis, who was acquired from the Royals during the offseason for outfielder Jorge Soler.
Not one of the Cubs who made it last year has better numbers than they did one year ago, and in most cases, the seasons are barely comparable with the exception of Rizzo (.258 BA, 19 HRs, 51 RBI, .892 OPS) not too far behind last year’s first half (.299, 21, 63, 1.006).
Bryant, the reigning NL MVP, could still get in via the National League’s “Final Vote” contest, but he is nowhere close to last year’s production (.286, 25 HRs, 65 RBI, .962 OPS). Bryant, who started the season 0 for 15 and has missed time because of the flu and a sprained ankle, is hitting .263, with 16 HRs, 32 RBI and a .901 OPS.
Shorstop Russell (.235, 7, 29, .703) is nowhere close to his 2016 first half (.237, 11, 51, .731), slowed by a back issues, off-the-field turmoil and a sore throwing arm.
Zobrist (.218, 7, 21, .700 OPS) has played in 56 of 82 games, and spent more than half of June on the disabled list. Zobrist was hitting .283 with 13 HRs, 47 RBI and an .855 OPS last season.
Lester (5-4, 3.69 ERA) and Arrieta (8-6, 4.33) have winning records in 2017, but don’t compare to 2016 when Lester (9-4, 3.01) and Arrieta (12-4, 2.68) rolled.
Yet, four Cubs — catcher Willson Contreras, Rizzo, Bryant and Javier Baez — finished second at their respective positions.
Outfielders Jason Heyward and Zobrist finished fourth and fifth despite missing most of June. All except Bryant were overlooked when it came time to select reserves.
Maddon, meanwhile, looks at his role as purely ceremonial.
“It’s like a Spring Training game, which is good,” Maddon said. “If the game mattered, where it was tied into the World Series, I would put a little more mind into it at this point.
Wade Davis, who was obtained in the offseason from Kansas City, is the only player from the World Series champions selected to play in the All-Star Game.