Chicago Cubs: 2019 letter grades for each player

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Nicholas Castellanos #6 of the Chicago Cubs beats the tag from Curt Casali #12 of the Cincinnati Reds to score in the fourth inning at Wrigley Field on September 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Nicholas Castellanos #6 of the Chicago Cubs beats the tag from Curt Casali #12 of the Cincinnati Reds to score in the fourth inning at Wrigley Field on September 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Abject Failures

Pedro Strop, Grade: D. Strop had his moments in 2019. When pitchers of higher reputation were unavailable, he stepped in and saved 10 games. But they were only moments. His 4.97 ERA and 90 ERA+ combine to tell a truer story.

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Addison Russell, Grade: F. Baseball isn’t social science. The Chicago Cubs tried to recuperate Russell’s on-field game simultaneously with his personal life, and the effort collapsed in a .237 batting average and 79 OPS+ that seems certain to foretell his release. It was only a couple years ago that Russell was a budding star.

Albert Almora, Jr., Grade: F. The Cubs gave Almora every chance in 2019, even to the point of demoting his main competition, Happ. The former No. 1 draft choice simply failed to step up. He batted a cringe-worthy .236, ran the bases poorly and his legitimate center field skills failed to approach offsetting those negatives.

Daniel Descalso, Grade: F. The Cubs signed Descalso to a two-year deal to be the team’s new Tommy Lastella. They’d have been better off keeping LaStella. Filling in for Russell while the latter served his suspension, Descalso did so little that he essentially disappeared the rest of the season.

Ben Zobrist, Grade: F. Zobrist’s mid-season absence for personal reasons followed a terrible start to 2019 during which he batted just .241. Cause and effect? Could be. He returned in September to bat .283, but with little extra-base pop. Zobrist is a free agent entering his age 39 season, so it’s a fair question whether he will find work in 2020.

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Craig Kimbrel, Grade: F. There are many ways to excuse Kimbrel’s performance following his June signing to a three-year deal. He was never in proper pitching shape, he was injured, and then there’s the small sample size issue. Chicago Cubs fans can look past all of that and see a reason for hope in 2020. But the bottom line is that the Cubs got virtually nothing from the 2019 portion of their investment.