I just…well…you see…the Cubs have a really good D.
Neither my formal education nor my subsequent experience writing online has provided me sufficient vocabulary narrative skill to describe what I’ve seen from the Cubs’ defense this season. Never one to allow a deficiency in knowledge or ability to hold me back, I’m going to try anyway.
First up, the foul pop in the 1st inning that Jason Heyward snagged after sprinting 19 mph to cover more than 120 feet of sod and dirt. He reacted to the ball in nine-hundredths of a second and utilized 98.5% route efficiency to get there, which I understand is quite good.
The ball was dropping and then Heyward’s all “Bloop, I got it, yo.” And, like, it wasn’t even a thing. He just kinda cruised out there and gave Anthony Rizzo the right of way until he realized his first baseman wasn’t going to make the play. Amazing stuff.
And then there’s this…
Nope, not even gonna try here. That’s just freakishly good and Javy isn’t human and it’s not even fair to be allowed to watch this happen over and over again every night and now I’m typing a run-on sentence and I don’t even care because awesome.
And that’s just what MLB.com has available to embed. Addison Russell made a balletic play to begin a twin killing in the 5th after leaping to haul in a liner from Evan Gattis in the 2nd. Then Grandpa Rossy showed off his antique gun collection, throwing out George Springer at second base and Alex Bregman at third.
If you watch these plays really closely, you can actually see Jon Lester’s ERA and FIP moving in opposite directions. A significant gap in those numbers might be viewed as a sign that a pitcher’s results have been fueled by good fortune, an idea that’s not altogether incorrect. The Cubs defense does have an uncanny ability to turn hits into outs and limit baserunners, thus protecting their pitchers.
But there’s something to be said for trusting the fielders behind you as much as you do your cutter or curve, knowing that allowing contact isn’t a bad thing. It’s got to feel pretty good to go out there and know that hitters are going to have to be darn near perfect to beat you even if you’re not at your best.
Setting aside the idea that the Cubs are the best defensive team in history according to park-adjusted defensive efficiency and that their pitchers are leveraging said strength, it’s incredibly fun to watch. Every team is going to have its share of phenomenal highlights, but the Cubs make the fantastic look routine and the impossible seem pretty darn common. The only problem is that I’m running out of ways to describe what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.