The Legend of Sam Fuld grows

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I’m going to have to refrain from joining the Sam Fuld cult. He’s a nice guy who has been fun to watch, but every time a brainy guy who does some pretty unexpectedly nifty things in a small sample of games, I end up getting burned. I mean, I’m still trying to unload all of that Brian Bannister merchandise I bought a couple of years ago, but the market simply cratered for it.

Still, there’s quite a Sam Fuld cult at the moment, borne mostly of his diving catches, .400+ OBP  and — dare I say it? — scrappy performance in the Rays’ outfield. Now there’s one more reason to become a Fuldhead. At least if you’re into a certain brand of baseball analysis:

Among worldly Sam Fuld’s many experiences is the time he spent as an intern at Stats, Inc., after he graduated from Stanford with a degree in economics … Fuld is fascinated by what the numbers tell him about the concept of clutch hitters.

“Most of the numbers out there show that there’s no such thing,” Fuld said. “And it’s crazy to think that, because I swear I’ve played with guys who just tend to come through in the clutch. And others that don’t. “But that’s the beauty of numbers is that our minds don’t necessarily capture the whole picture accurately. Our emotions remember certain things for whatever reason, and there are certain things you don’t remember. So I think that’s the beauty of numbers. It’s fact. There’s no way around it.”

Yes, it’s possible that the Fuld wave has peaked as far as baseball cultural phenomenons go. But I always like it when people accept that our minds are often unreliable narrators and that numbers don’t lie when they’re merely being used to present what happened (conclusions to draw from those numbers and what they can and can’t predict is where it gets trickier).

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”