MLB: Winter Meetings

BP Unfiltered: Mental Skills on the North Side

This roundup, originally published on the main site as a “BP Unfiltered” feature, highlights work previously published here at the site. If you read the pieces already, take the time to enjoy them again. If you missed one or many, sink your teeth in.

We spend a lot of time—here at Baseball Prospectus, and elsewhere in the sabermetric universe—focusing on the elements of player performance that we see take place between white lines and on green grass. Those things are (relatively) simple and easy to understand. We can add them, subtract them, divide and multiply them. They make sense. We spend relatively little time focusing on what goes on inside players’ heads. At BP Wrigleyville this offseason, we’ve tried to change that, writing a series of pieces about the myriad ways in which the Cubs are weaving a deep appreciation for mental skills into the fabric of the franchise.


Covering All the Bases: Epstein’s Winning Formula,” Leigh Coridan.

In her Wrigleyville debut, Coridan focused on the formal ‘Mental Skills Program’ the Cubs have developed in recent years, under the leadership of Director Josh Lifrak.

I Want Us To Think Well: Joe Maddon’s Biggest Spring Concern,” Rian Watt

I previewed Cubs Camp in Mesa by focusing on the storyline off the field—the enormous expectations the team is facing, and how Maddon is attacking them.

Let It Flow: The Psychology of Joe Maddon’s Cubs,” Clarissa Young.

With insights from the positive psychology literature and Justine Siegal, MLB’s first female coach, Clarissa Young examined the state of ‘flow’ the Cubs experience.

Choosing and Developing Young Players: The Mental Side of the Game,” Carlos Portocarrero.

With a focus on the last few draft classes, Portocarrero examined the psychological traits the Cubs look for in their draftees of recent vintage.

Nothing Like A Cubs Fan: Acronym Soup and Fan Psychology,” Leigh Coridan.

Drawing on the latest in sports psychology research, Coridan return to the subject she kicked off with a look at what makes Cubs fans psychologically unique.

Weathering a Storm: The Mental Strength of Jon Lester,” Jared Wyllys.

Drawing on interviews with Cubs EVP Jason McLeod and Lester’s high-school scout, Wyllys explored the mental skills that make Lester tick at the highest level.

Heyward Flashing Sixth Tool in Early Going in Chicago,” Leigh Coridan.

With his other skills getting all the play, Coridan focuses on the mental aspects of Jason Heyward’s game, and the effects of a life lived in the spotlight.


Although these articles all focus, to a greater or lesser degree, on the Chicago Cubs, we trust the lessons they underscore are broad enough to sustain your interest even if you have no rooting interest in Chicago. Happy reading!

Lead photo courtesy Jim Brown—USA Today Sports.

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