Tag Archives: Chicago Cubs

The weakness that could derail each remaining contender

If March is when fans of every club get to dream the biggest dream, September is when certain dreams transition from feeling possible to feeling probable. Every team in the race has some well-defined strengths, and the belief that if the players execute, the World Series will be theirs. The Baltimore Orioles, for example, will win so long as they can hand a close game over to the bullpen. The Boston Red Sox will win if they hit the way they’ve spent the summer hitting. The Chicago Cubs will win unless they shoot themselves in the foot. On and on, for each team in contention.

That said, I talked to several scouts at Dedeaux Field who found snippets of encouragement. One evaluator took note of Tebow’s weak arm but said the results were better when Tebow chased down balls on the run and came up throwing without obsessing over his mechanics. Former big league reliever David Aardsma, who threw live batting practice to Tebow, said after the workout that Tebow was gripping the bat too tightly and looks more natural on the back field when he’s not trying to impress 40-something scouts.

ESPN dispatched Paolantonio and his crew to Cortland, N.Y., to cover the New York Jets’ training camp in 2012 — a.k.a. The Summer of Tebow. It was a media frenzy for those three weeks, with dozens of journalists chronicling Tebow’s every move. It made for an entertaining summer that bordered on farcical.

Everything became a story: Tebow signing autographs. Tebow running the Wildcat offense. Tebow going to the local church on Sunday. Tebow running shirtless through the rain after practice — a video that went viral.

The SportsCenter set was adjacent to the practice field, feeding live reports to the Tebow-loving world on his progress.

The most memorable day occurred when the Jets decided to hold a clandestine practice, designed specifically for the Tebow package in their offense. No fans were allowed to watch, but reporters were granted access under the proviso that nothing pertaining to strategy could be reported.

All three have also stolen 20-plus bases, so Trout doesn’t even get extra credit in that department. So why does Trout have the higher WAR? He has a big edge in on-base percentage, for starters — .442 to Altuve’s .406 and Betts’ .357; he has more walks than Altuve and Betts combined. That’s important; outs matter. He also has an edge over Altuve in baserunning value. FanGraphs estimates Trout has been worth 7.7 runs above average on the bases compared with Altuve’s minus-0.3 (Betts is at 8.8, as he ranks second in the majors and Trout fourth). This stat includes double plays hit into, and Altuve has hit into 13 compared to Trout’s four. Betts also plays in a good hitter’s park, which cuts into his value (runs produced in a higher run environment are less valuable since there are more of them); Trout plays in a pitcher’s park.

Defensively, Betts has been spectacular, according to Defensive Runs Saved, at plus-24. Trout is rated at plus-6, and Altuve at 0. That’s what makes Trout so good: He has no weaknesses. The only chance Trout would have of winning MVP honors while playing on a bad team is to compile big home run and RBI numbers. But in a season in which home runs are way up, Trout isn’t going to come close to the 41 he hit last season. He may not drive in 100 runs. Dismissed (by some).

Steering Tebow toward the Mets is logical for his representatives at Creative Artists Agency, as well. CAA also represents Mets aces Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, and had a hand in negotiating Yoenis Cespedes’ contract with the Mets. So there should be benefits for all of their Mets clients in terms of exposure.