Goatriders of the Apocalypse

More fun with figures, this time pertaining to the Cubs record

It is August 25th, and the Cubs have the best record in baseball.  I can't tell you how long it's been since the Cubs had the best record this late in a season, although even money says 1945 at the latest. 

The Cubs are currently 30 games over .500.  They've only finished 30 games over .500 once in the last 60+ years, and that was in 1984.  On August 25th of that season, the Cubs were 75-53, or 22 games over .500.  In other words, they remain at the best pace we have ever seen in our lifetimes.

In fact, with 32 games remaining, if the Cubs go .500 the rest of the way out, they will finish the year with 96 wins - equalizing their win total from 1984.  Anybody here think the Cubs will only go .500 the rest of the way out?

Yesterday I mentioned that the Cubs would have to go 20-12 to win 100.  It's very doable, but not quite as important as winning 11 games after September 28th.  What I failed to mention is that, at this point, the Brewers would have to go 21-10 just to finish a game better than the theoretical 96-win Cubs, and the Cardinals would have to go 26-5.

In the rest of baseball, it breaks down like this:

The Cubs are 9 games ahead of the first and second place Mets and Phillies in the loss column. 

The Cubs are 12 games in front of the first place Diamondbacks.

The Cubs are .5 games ahead of the first place Rays and first place Angels.

The Cubs are 5 games in front of the White Sox.   

No matter how you cut it, the Cubs have dominated this season.  It's more impressive, though, when you consider that they play in a division in which the third place team, the Cardinals, has a better record than any other divisional leader in the National League.  

In other words, unlike the Angels who play against nobodies, the Cubs have achieved their record by regularly defeating good teams.  No other team will be quite as battle tested as the Cubs come October, and I remain ever-confident that, for once in our lives, we follow the team to beat.

1984 vs. 2008

LF - Matthews vs. Soriano...Soriano
CF - Dernier vs. Edmonds/Johnson...Dernier
RF - Moreland vs. Fukudome...tie
3B - Cey vs. Ramirez...Ramirez
SS - Theriot vs. Bowa...Theriot
2B - Sandberg vs. DeRosa...Sandberg
1B - Durham vs. Lee...Lee, because of playoffs
C - Davis vs. Soto...Soto, barely
SP - Sutcliffe vs. Harden...tie
SP - Eckersley vs. Zambrano...Zambrano
SP - Trout vs. Lilly...tie
SP - Sanderson vs. Dempster...Dempster
SP - Ruthven vs. Marquis...whatever
Bench - 1984 vs. 2008...even
SetUp - Stoddard vs. Marmol...Marmol
Closer - Smith vs. Wood...Smith

I was only 6 when we took nose dive in '69. So for me 1984 was the team. This year's team really reminds me of '84 in many ways.


The Angels do have a weaker strength of schedule...

...and are probably overrated. The Rays, on the other hand, have played a tougher schedule than the Cubs. (The average AL team is better than the average NL team, which is why interleague play is always such a slaughter.)

The good news is that the Cubs still seem to be on track for 100 wins - they won the games they should have against the Reds and the Nats. (I haven't updated the strength of schedule calculations, so I'm not entirely certain what their current win expectation is.)

I'm working on a more robust strength-of-schedule/win expectancy spreadsheet, one that takes into account pitcher strength and even lineups. But there's so many variables involved that it'll probably only be usable for one series at a time. Hopefully I'll have it ready to deploy for the first Cubs/Brewers series, if not sooner.

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