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poodski
06-14-2010, 10:36 AM
Little has gone right for the Chicago Cubs this season. The clubís starting pitchers boast the second-best xFIP in the National League and the defense isnít too shabby, either (fifth in UZR). Unfortunately, those strong performances have gone to waste due to mediocre relief pitching (11th in the NL in xFIP) and offense (12th in wOBA). Even after last nightís 1-0 victory over the White Sox, the Cubs have a 28-35 record. At 7.5 games back of the division-leading Cardinals and eight games behind the Dodgers in the Wild Card chase, the Cubs have less than a seven percent shot of making the playoffs, according to CoolStandings.com. Yes, Lloyd, Iím telling you thereís a chance. Itís not looking good, though.

While there are many reasons as to why 2010 is shaping up to be yet another aggravating season in Wrigleyville, Marlon Byrd surely isnít among them. The 32-year-old center fielder, inked to a three-year, $15 million deal over the off-season, is enjoying a career year.

Byrdís batting .333/.375/.543, with a .400 wOBA that ranks in the top 20 among qualified big league hitters. Heís not walking (3.6 BB%) or whiffing (13.7 K%) much ó heís just racking up extra-base hits and getting some fortunate bounces on balls put in play. Byrdís ISO is a career-high .209, while his .354 BABIP is 31 points higher than his expected BABIP and 29 points above his career BABIP in the majors. Defensively, Byrd has rated as average to slightly below-average in center during his career. But heís got a +17.3 UZR/150 and +10 DRS in 2010. With three Wins Above Replacement, Byrd places seventh among all MLB position players.

Not bad for a guy whose career has been on life support a couple of times over the years. A Georgia prep star in baseball and football, Byrd attended Georgia Tech but suffered a devastating right leg injury ó he had three procedures on the leg, and at one point doctors considered amputation. He transferred to Georgia Perimeter Junior College, and his health and stock improved enough for the Phillies to pop him in the 10th round of the 1999 draft.

Byrd emerged as a top prospect, cracking Baseball Americaís top 100 list prior to the 2002 and 2003 seasons. He had 3.5 WAR rookie season in Ď03, proving himself an asset at the plate (116 wRC+) and in the field (+5.1 UZR/150 in CF). At 25, Byrd looked poised to be a quality contributor for the Phightins for years to come.

But then, he imploded. Byrd plummeted to -1.6 WAR in 2004, and he followed that up with 0.9 WAR in part-time play during a 2005 season in which he was traded to the nascent Nationals. He split 2006 flailing in Washington (.294 wOBA, 0.4 WAR) and hitting fairly well in Triple-A (.369 wOBA). Byrd latched on with the Rangers prior to 2007, signing a minor league pact. After raking with the RedHawks to begin the year (.424 wOBA), Byrd was called up to the big leagues and proceeded to revive his career in Arlington.

From Ď07 to 2009, Byrd was Mr. Average ó he had 2.3 WAR per season, with a park-and-league-adjusted wOBA 14 percent above the norm (114 wRC+) but a glove that was a couple runs below average per 150 defensive games. CHONE had Byrd pegged for 2.6 WAR in 2010, a mark that he has already exceeded. Barring injury, heíll easily surpass his rookie WAR total, too.

Odds are, Byrd wonít remain one of the absolute best players in the majors. But ZiPS projects a .367 wOBA for the rest of the season. That, coupled with average D, would continue to make him a valuable starter. Byrd has taken a circuitous route to big league success, but heís looking like a free agent coup for the Cubs.


http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/marlon-byrd-likes-chicago/

toovey107
06-14-2010, 05:49 PM
Good read. Byrd has exceeded my expectations thus far.

justndav
06-14-2010, 07:42 PM
I really like Marlon Byrd too. He seems like he actually cares when he's in the field and at the plate. He always seems to give 110% and you always see him smiling and being as positive as he can be. I'm sure he's one of the reasons the team has probably stayed as loose as it has thru some very tough games.

As bad as we have been we're only 7.5 games back which seems unreal but its not like the Cards or Reds are running away with it.

Marlon will be a good guy to have on the team in the coming two seasons I think as long as he's playing to his ability.

Take that Milton Bradley, this white guy likes having Marlon Byrd on the Cubs!!!!