We’ve spent a lot of hours at the home ballpark this year, what with long rain delays and long games. We could have both tonight, as rain is delaying the start of the series finale between the Cubs and Pirates. The Cubs have not played a game under three hours since Sept. 8, when they went 2:56 at Pittsburgh.
One of the things I’ve noticed in talking with manager Dale Sveum is that he goes beyond the “baseball-card” stats in his pregames with us. Here’s an item from today’s game notes, for example:
Starlin Castro has a career high 75 RBI. That’s tops among major-league shortstops. Castro is the first Cubs shortstop in 51 years to reach 75 RBI in a season. Ernie Banks had 80 RBI in 1961, a season in which he played 104 of his 138 games at shortstop.
Dale was asked about the Castro’s batting average and RBI.
“It’s not as much the average as the OPS and the RBIs,” he said. “When you have that .800-plus OPS at the end of the season, there’s a lot of things that went pretty well for that individual, whoever it is. The higher that OPS is, is where you want to be as a hitter. You know you’re a complete hitter if your OPS is over .800. You mix in the RBIs, that’s what you’re looking for: the OPS and the ability to drive runs in and hit with men in scoring position.”
No manager since I’ve been here has talked of the importance of slugging percentage and OPS the way Sveum has.
Among Cubs regulars, here are some of the OPS figures:
Alfonso Soriano: .822
David DeJesus: .757
Darwin Barney: .680
Anthony Rizzo has an OPS of .843 since coming up June 26.
Rizzo, Soriano and Castro have been going 3-4-5 for the Cubs, and they could go that way next season.
“It’s been a nice little combo there the last few weeks, the 3-4-5,” Sveum said. “Most good offensive teams, their 3-4-5, when the season is over, have close to 600 runs produced.”