South Florida is Hockey Country | Limited Edition Championship CollectionSHOP NOW

Advertisement

Quite Literally Everything You Need To Know About Chicago's Next Superstar: Pete Crow Armstrong

Pete Crow-Armstrong made his debut for the Chicago Cubs last night. That's a really big fuckin deal around here. Most of you don't care but that won't prevent the following 1,500 words on the young man. 

Here's everything anyone at risk of caring should know: 

Easy Stuff:

- Pete Crow-Armstrong is an elite name with "PCA" only grading out as an average nickname. I like going with a traditional Pete if it were up to me so that’s what I'll call him. Unless there’s a big moment. Then we’re going full PETER. Operationally though, he's a Pete.

- Most hyphenated names stem from Royal blood. His blood is rich and thick with plus plus coagulation properties. 

- Pete is considered the top CF prospect in the world

- The Mets traded him to the Cubs in 2021 for 8 weeks and 46 games of Javy Baez. The Mets would subsequently finish 19-27 and miss the playoffs by 11.5 games.

- Pete was 19 and not even a full season into his pro career when traded to the Cubs. He was outside the Top 100 prospects but considered Top 5 within the Mets system.

- He went to the same high school as Max Fried, Lucas Giolito, Jack Flaherty and Jon Lovitz

- The Notable Alumni section of high school’s Wikipedia is actually staggering:

- I love a good high school alumni base as much as the next degenerative loser but this is simply too much. Successful alumni (by volume) inversely reciprocate all levels of school pride. 

- On the subject of celebrity, both of Pete’s parents are actors. 

- His mom is famous (that's right, famous) for her role as Jenny Heywood in Little Big League

- Lou Collins was a great ballplayer

- Pete's father grew up in Naperville and was the two-time DuPage Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year. That may not mean shit to you but that absolutely feels right at home for me.

- Mr. Armstrong’s most notable acting credit is for Ted Sprague from season 1 of Heroes. Many years ago that meant much more to me.

- Mr. Armstrong strongly resembles the GEICO Caveman to the extent that he had to issue a public statement saying he IS NOT the caveman. 

- Pete descends from great seed: all-time baseball mom and a cromagnon outside linebacker still carrying a 630 area code. That’s called pedigree folks.

- Pete's left ear is pierced but he doesn’t play with an earring.

- There’s some speculation about Pete's right lobe but nothing confirmed

- Sometimes he wears one of those ionizing performance necklaces. We’d like to swap that out with at least one gold chain immediately.

- Bad signature:

Advertisement

- Hard name to sign, but he’s had years to work on it. That's very disappointing. There’s no excuse for that much loop in the C or the A. Sure, solid P, but that's about it. I’d talk to Alzolay and Jeimer pronto.

- He’s probably the every day CF for a decade if he turns out to be “average” relative to his talent

That's the light stuff

He’s young and awesome and the Mets should have never traded him.

Giphy Images.
If you excuse me, I’m now going to nerd out on what this means for the Cubs.

From my loins: 

- First off the only reason he’s getting called up is because he deserves it. Pete’s been outstanding in just his 2nd full professional season with an .876 OPS across AA and AAA. That includes 53 extra base hits in 500 plate appearances. 

- For context, Nico Hoerner had 32 xhb’s in a comparable minor league sample (525 PA's) as well as 39 xbh's in 614 plate appearances this season.

- I would be surprised if Pete slugged over .500 right away but that’s not my point. Broader, bigger picture – he’s got quality leather and speed just like Nico, but with significantly more offensive upside.  

- So then looking ahead, the middle trio of Pete, Dansby and Nico will very likely be the National League’s best. 

- That’s looking ahead though, which is very fuckin easy from this chair. He’s gonna be awesome. Everything’s going to be great. Come one, come all, come see the Chicago Cubs and Pete Crow-Armstrong. Blah blah blah. Save it for the convention. Right now we’re talking Right Now, and right now I’m trying to figure out where he fits.

Centerfield you idiot

Do the Cubs need help in CF right now? 

Maybe not based on hard data that says the Cubs have the 6th highest WAR at CF in MLB behind: Seattle (Julio), White Sox (Luis), Toronto (Kiermaier/Varsho), Philly (Brandon Marsh, lol) and the Angels (Michael Trout).

But that 6th overall metric heavily considers Cody Bellinger, and he’s played 125 innings at 1st base since August 15th compared to just 80 in centerfield. There’s certainly a shift to Bellinger at 1st for the playoffs. Nobody else can play it for the Cubs at the level it demands.

So yeah, maybe the Cubs do need some help in CF.

Matt Dirksen. Getty Images.

Advertisement

Is Pete better than me? - Mike Tauchman's burner

Maybe. 

Probably. 

Right now?

I can argue that both ways and feel intelligent. I have no clue until Pete plays, but Mike Tauchman has been solid all things considered. Problem is he doesn’t play against lefties. You could also say he’s “not good” against LHP, but that would be unfair because he just doesn’t have the reps: 66 starts against RHP vs. 7 against lefties and only 15% of his total plate appearances.

So while I personally don’t know who to pick between the two, right now, without watching Pete play a single inning of Major League Baseball. I can, at least, confidently say the Cubs are open minded to CF strategies against left handed starters. That is not up for debate.

So can Pete hit lefties?

Minor league numbers say yes. He slashed .272/.366/.480 in 145 plate appearances vs .288/.364/.524 against RHP which moans of different approaches. Especially when you look at the walk rates. About 2-1 strikeout-to-walk against LHP which jumps to over 3-1 against righties. Again, haven’t watched him in the big leagues because he hasn’t played a game yet. But this is all good stuff. It’s patient, opportunistic, balanced. I love OBP higher against lefties with a marginally lower slug. You should too. 

So then assume that translates normally in the big leagues. Are we suggesting Pete become the every day CF, but only against LHP?

That's kinda fucked up… just start him once every couple games and only against lefties because of Mike Tauchman's splits? That's actually so fucked up that we should not do it. The Cubs should know better.

We also know it’s a bad idea to have Jeimer Candelario play the field when he can DH. 

And we know Morel can’t be trusted in CF at the most critical time of the season.

That leaves us with a fairly obvious and overly simple conclusion about Pete’s debut: the Cubs are willing to let him be the everyday CF down the stretch.

Nobody's going to come out and say that right now. That would be insane. But let there be no doubt that Jed Hoyer very much wants Pete Crow-Armstrong to emerge as the obvious best choice. And I say that with no disrespect to Mike Tauchman. It's really just a matter of strengths.

One step forward - the best brand of Cubs baseball must prioritize catching the ball over hitting it. Run prevention reigns supreme. And with a contact-first pitching staff, you're forced to lean defense. Here's how that could look

vs. RHP:

1B – Bellinger

3B – Madrigal

DH – Candy

CF – Pete

or

1B – Bellinger

3B – Candy

DH – Morel

CF – Pete

Madrigal’s bat is better than Candy’s glove. That’s the logic.

vs. LHP

1B – Bellinger

3B – Madrigal

DH – Candy

CF – Pete

We're just spitballing here. It would be pretty stupid to automatically assume any of this happens. It very well could, but we’re asking a lot from Pete in the process so keep that in mind.

If it doesn’t work out, then Jed gets a healthy look at his weaknesses and an entire offseason to improve them. No harm to the 2023 season with a better idea about the future. That's exactly what the Cubs need for other, larger decisions. 

For now, the most important thing is giving Pete an opportunity to prove himself right away. If it lands, the Cubs are instantly better, deeper, more dynamic. 

Worst case scenario? It's still a playoff caliber club and Pete still has a bright future. 

Worst case it starts slow.

Rob Tringali. Getty Images.

Advertisement

Hello my name is Mike Trout and I hit .182 in my first September playoff chase. 

I repeat: There's no downside.

More on the youngster here:

PS – Mike Tauchman is hitting .340 with RISP this season and I have a feeling he would be a deadly secret weapon off the bench in October. Basically like Darryl Ward without any of the sausage drama.