Goatriders of the Apocalypse

GameCast: Cubs at Arizona for the series win!

Cubs at Arizona
Or: Statistics as I Understand Them

I'm hardly a genius and I am especially not mathematically inclined. But here's what I understand about statistical probability in reference to the Cubs:

Two games ago, the Cubs scored 2 runs against the Diamondbacks. Their inability to score runs was not an indication that they would be unable to score runs the following night as evidenced by their 11-run barrage of Arizona.

Last night the Cubs scored 11 runs against the Diamondbacks. Their ability to score runs is not an indication that they will be able to score runs this afternoon.

Based however on the composition of the Cubs lineup, using the large sample size of their individual offensive performances of not just last season but the past several, it's fair to conclude that they will likely score a large number of runs on average over the course of the 2009 season. Therefore, it's fair to conclude that they are capable - if not likely - to score a large number of runs today.

Actually that's more philosophical theory with a hint of statistical evidence, rather than statistical theory. Regardless, I'm not wrong. The Cubs are neither likely to score only 2 runs or to score 11 today but they are likely to score a lot. But what I really wanted to take from my little adventure into probability discussion is this key fact - and yes, it is a fact - small sample sizes are irrelevant in predicting future performances. The only relevant samples we can take are from the large ones, and from June of 2007 until now the Cubs have been a run-scoring, game-winning force of nature. So I say again that all this panic and concern over small sample sizes (unfortunately occuring under the microscope of the start of the season) is probably a case of jumping the gun.

Take last night's offensive outpouring. Clearly the Cubs are like the kid forced to participate in sports even though he really wants to dance. They're just itching to bust out, dying to show off their steps, and a team as bad as we're afraid they are wouldn't be very likely to flat-out pummel another team in the way the Cubs did yesterday. The Cubs are playing for consistency more than anything else. A win today would be a good step in the right direction, and what's more it would be a step the team is entirely capable of taking as they have a good pitcher on the mound.

And that is my understanding of how statistics prove the Cubs should be a good team.

Who's Hot
Everybody had hits yesterday, but the biggest and the best came from Alfonso Soriano and Mike Fontenot (and Carlos Zambrano, but he's unlikely to hit today). Both players have now hit homers in consecutive games. At one point last night Lil' Babe Ruth got his batting average up to .250 before watching it drop back down, but everybody's favorite lil' shawty now has a .351 OBP and .780 OPS and is - at least briefly - on pace to hit 26 doubles, 26 homers, and to draw 85 walks. And just for the record, the guy he replaced is batting .235 for Cleveland with an OPS of .720, although he's actually on pace to hit more homeruns - at least for now.

By the way, Kosuke Fukudome drew 3 walks yesterday and at this time has an OBP of .482. I'd categorize him as the team's biggest mystery. Will he flounder like last year when pitchers get a second look at him? Or has he finally figured out major league hitting. If it's the latter then the Cubs have the potential for an even better offensive season than what we'd expected ... even while Geo Soto and Milton Bradley hit like little leaguers.

Who's Not
Geo Soto is sitting down for a few games while Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez are still not at 100%. Not to mention that Milton Bradley will have to do a lot more than get his second hit as a Cub before he escapes the "who's not" section of this article.

I'd love to see the Cubs build on yesterday's performance with another solid smack-down of the D-Backs. Then again, while statistics dictate that the Cubs could and should do well today, there's no reason to expect it. After all, this team has been very much hit and miss. But a road series victory following the harsh road series defeat at the hands of St. Louis would be incredibly nice and, hopefully, evidence that this season is faaaaar from over.

Quick Links
Series Preview: Cubs at Arizona
Game Recap: D-Backs 7, Cubs 2
Game Recap: Cubs 11, D-Backs 3

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