Image courtesy of Wiki Commons.
"Joey Votto is a Cub killer."
This phrase is oft said and oft seems true. In 2008, the young Canadian hit 8 HRs in only 15 games against the Cubs. In 2009, he hit another 3 HRs and 4 doubles in only 12 games. To express the significance of these power numbers, let's consider what would happen if extrapolated that data over the remainder of Votto's seasons. This is what Votto would have looked like if he (a) faced the Cubs for all the games he played that year and (b) continued to play that well against the Cubs:
2008: 150 games, 80 HRs
2009: 130 games, 32 HRs
In reality, Votto hit:
2008: 151 games, 24 HRs
2009: 131 games, 25 HRs
However, we must be wiser than this; we must not blindly assume that Votto is a Cub killer based on the performances of two years. The Book tells us that hitter-pitcher match-ups rarely prove to be predictive for the following year. Moreover, because MLB rosters turnover pretty significantly from year to year, meaning Votto would not even be facing the same pitchers in 2008 and 2009. Also, Votto's domination of the Cubs in 2008 did not recur to the same degree in 2009. He looked much more like standard Joey Votto in 2009. Let's compare his rate stats:
vs. all: OBP = .368, SLG = .506
vs. CHC: OBP = .410, SLG = .852
vs. all: OBP = .414, SLG = .567
vs. CHC: OBP = .365, SLG = .578
In 2009, Votto was much closer to what we typically expect from him. In 2010, we should again expect the same. Votto's 2008 year against the Cub was an anomaly, and his reputation as a Cub killer undeserved (that title and many others belong to Pujols).
ALSO: Today Carlos Zambrano snatched his first win of the season. During the offseason, foolish Cubs fans consistently gawked like awful alarm clocks about how Zambrano needed to rebound, how he needed to "act like an ace," or prove he was worth his contract.
I refuse to discuss the "act like an ace" issue. Such words are the spawn of poor journalists and ill-informed or lazy fans.
According to Fangraphs and Cot's Baseball Contracts, Zambrano has -- for about the last two years -- been earning ~$16 million, but worth ~$14 million. I contest that -- since we are a big market team -- the lost $2 million is the premium we are willing and happy to pay for his otherwise stellar production.
Moreover, Big Z's 2009 season was his best in years. Please do not suggest otherwise. Please do not point to his win totals or his ERA. These actions will result in the instant bursting of a blood vessel in my neck. Observe:
Zambrano's xFIP by Year:
Zambrano's tERA by Year:
Zambrano has been steadily improving. Our offense, however, has not. What troubles me most, however, is that Z is likely to start collecting some of the wins he deserved in 2009, and fans will begin to applaud his "rebound," his determination to improve, and so on with such dribble.
When Zambrano wins a game, please don't say, "Finally!" as though he has started to play better. Say, "Finally" because we have begun to score again.