The Major League Baseball season has reached its mathematical midway point. The Chicago Cubs are 34-52, on pace to finish the year with a record of 64-98, just above the 100-loss threshold for utter embarrassment. If the Northsiders can complete the season with fewer than 100 losses, it will be thanks to the efforts of the following top performers.
Scott Effross, RP
G: 40 (leads MLB)
ERA: 3.11 (139 ERA+)
Effross became the bullpen’s linchpin in his second season with the Northsiders.
David Robertson, CL
G: 31 (19 finished)
ERA: 2.10 (206 ERA+)
The 14-year veteran has been quite effective in 2022 after making just 12 appearances for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021. He could even return there this season, as he seems destined for a change of scenery at the deadline.
Justin Steele, SP
G: 16 (16 starts)
ERA: 4.13 (104 ERA+)
Steele’s sophomore season has been solid, outperforming his preseason projection of 0.5 fWAR.
Keegan Thompson, SP
G: 19 (11 started)
ERA: 3.16 (136 ERA+)
Thompson has wildly exceeded expectations, as preseason prognosticators projected him to be worth just 0.1 fWAR.
Position Player Leaders
Willson Contreras, C (2022 All-Star)
OPS: .877 (144 OPS+)
fWAR: 2.8 (2nd at his position, 20th in MLB)
With his 3rd All-Star selection, Contreras is on his way to realizing his goal of becoming “the best catcher in the game for a long time.”
Ian Happ, OF (2022 All-Star)
OPS: .821 (129 OPS+)
fWAR: 2.2 (11th among outfielders)
Happ is enjoying the best season of his career thanks to a significantly reduced strikeout rate, earning his first All-Star selection.
Christopher Morel, OF/2B
OPS: .832 (130 OPS+)
Morel has become a regular in the Cubs lineup after homering in his first MLB at-bat on May 17.
Seiya Suzuki, OF
OPS: .808 (124 OPS+)
Suzuki missed over a month of action with a left ring finger sprain, but his return on July 4 with an inside-the-park home run off Josh Hader helped spark the Northsiders’ series victory over the Milwaukee Brewers with wins on July 5th and 6th.
The next challenge for these players will be the trade deadline. Stress levels will increase as several players will be sent to contenders for the stretch run, while those left behind will have to step into even more prominent roles.
Featured Image: Willson Contreras, catcher for the Chicago Cubs, batting at Peoria Stadium in Peoria, Arizona, USA on March 13, 2017, by Keeton Gale / Shutterstock.com.