2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive: Chicago Cubs

by Jordan McDonald
2019 Fantasy Baseball Week 7 Holds Targets

Welcome to another edition of the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive featuring the Chicago Cubs!

The Cubs sold off most of their championship core and have accelerated their inevitable rebuilding process. Fantasy darlings such as Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant have all found new homes and each homered in their first games with their respective teams. The team also traded away the hottest relief pitcher on the market to the southside Chicago White Sox for arguably the best package of prospects.

After trading all those players, is there anyone left on the Cubs with fantasy relevance? Let’s pick through the bones and see what we are able to find.

2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive: Chicago Cubs

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Willson Contreras

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Contreras is one of two active position players remaining from that 2016 World Series team after the trade deadline (the other being Jason Heyward). He is slated for free agency after next season and could also be on his way out sooner than later. But for now, he is having an unexceptional season slashing .235/.344/.432 with 17 home runs. Despite the perceived slumping numbers, Contreras is still an elite fantasy option at the catcher position.

He is one of only four catchers who are considered “qualified hitters” according to Statcast (the other three being J.T. Realmuto, Salvador Perez, and Christian Vazquez). A hitter must average 2.1 plate appearances per game to be qualified. And because Contreras plays almost every day, he is awarded more opportunities at the plate. However, those additional PAs have not amounted to anything substantial.

His slash line may not be as nice as previous seasons, but he has improved in the underlying power numbers. He has an average Exit Velocity of over 90+ MPH for the first time in his career and his Hard Hit rate of 47.5 percent is just 0.3 percent lower than his career-high mark established during the shortened 2020 season.

If you have Contreras on any of your teams, you may be discouraged by the mass exodus of hitters in the lineup. But he should be able to handle his own and he provides a reliable option at an extremely thin position.

Ian Happ

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Happ may be considered one of the most disappointing players of the 2021 season. He had an ADP of 153rd overall (99th overall hitter) according to FantasyPros, and depending on the format you play, he possesses appealing positional eligibility. But that really doesn’t matter when you are slashing a lowly .177/.292/.329.

It’s hard to believe how far off a cliff that Happ has fallen during this season. He has never recorded an OPS lower than .761 in his career, but he is currently sitting at __ right now. His slump isn’t attributed to a lack of power by any stretch. His Hard Hit rate and average Exit Velocity are lower than his career averages, but not by much. Although, his Barrel rate is currently under 10 percent (8.3) for the first time in his career.

His Sweet Spot percentage is the lowest of his career at 25.5 percent. And his expected statistics are ranked near the bottom of the league. The lack of contact he is putting on the ball may be the reason for the prolonged slump.

Now into August, Happ can't be a player relied upon for important wins in the fantasy regular seasons. However, he is available in a sizable amount of leagues and may be available if he decides to go on another hot streak.

Kyle Hendricks

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Hendricks was a name floating around in trade rumors but ultimately was never dealt. He is easily the best starter on the Cubs and has a 13-4 record with a 3.71 ERA. It seems like Hendricks has been around forever, but he is only 31 years old. However, based on his profile you would think the pitcher is much older.

The average velocity of his four-seam fastball is 87.1 MPH. He is ranked in the bottom three percent in fastball velocity and the bottom one percent in fastball spin. Despite all that, he still ranks in the 84th percentile for Hard Hit rate given up to opposing batters. As for his curveball, he currently sits in the 88th percentile for Curve Spin.

Obviously, he relies more on deception and location to make his outs. And batters are enticed by the slow-moving fastball, which has resulted in Hendricks ranking in the 93rd percentile in Chase Rate. However, as for his Whiff percentage, he is ranked in the bottom eight percent.

As for those who roster him in fantasy, you may be affected if you rely on wins because of the lack of run support he may not receive. The other people who play in a league with quality starts should be fine, as Hendricks is alone in second place across the entire MLB.


Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers.

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