Friday Update (June 11, 2010)
It's time for Rob's favorite post! The Friday update. This is where I try to figure out how good the Cubs really are (or aren't) relative to their actual record. Let me try to point out what this post is about.
Teams have won/loss records. Sometimes those won/loss records are perfectly indicative of how the team has really performed on the field. Sometimes, a team is better than their won/loss record (and should win more games). Sometimes they are worse (and should lose some games). This also affects the number of runs a team scores.
Usually the problem is hitting better or worse with runners in scoring position. All stastical analysis shows this is not a "skill" per se. A good hitter is a good hitter and a bad hitter is a bad hitter. A good hitter will, ultimately, hit better than a bad hitter with runners in scoring position. However, for long swaths of time, a bad hitter (or a bad team) could just get more timely hits (or prevent more timely hits on the pitching/defense side) which will result in a team scoring or preventing a run total different than their actual skill level. There are other things that influence this also. Next week, if I can, I'll deal with the pythagorean theory of looking at a team's record so that my buddy Rob can learn to speak greek as well as Limey English </sarc>
So without further ado. Here is where the Cubs stand:
Currently the Cubs are 27-33. That is 6 gmaes under .500 and 7.5 games out of first place. This means, without looking at any other statistic, they are probably not going to make the playoffs but also aren't quite "out of it". I believe the magic number for "out of it" is 10. 10 games back. 10 games under .500. If that's what's happening, they would be out of the race.
They are averaging 4.3 runs per game scored and 4.4 runs per game allowed. That leads to a pythagorean record of 29-31.
On offense, they have scored 255 runs which would make them 12th in the NL in runs scored. They have a pretty crappy offense but they should have scored closer to 269 runs. That's a 14 run difference. That accounts for about 3 wins. We'll give them 2 to be less generous. This is a league average offense that has been unlucky. Because they are mediocre to begin with, the lack of luck makes them look like a train wreck. The 2 extra wins on offense puts them at 31-29.
On Pitching and Defense they have allowed pretty much what should be expected. They are currently tied for third in the NL in xFIP (an advanced metric that looks at pitching independent of fielding and luck) but they are actually 9th in the league in runs allowed. I'm not giving them a pass on this because the defense does actually stink at the team's ERA is now lower than their xFIP. That having been said, there's no logical reason why the Cardinals should have 27 fewer runs allowed than the Cubs. Still, that is the case. I think the Cubs will eventually move off of 9th in the NL in this category but I can't back that up too much now so I won't try.
So the Cubs are basically a 31-29 team with a current record of 27-33. If they actually play 31-29 baseball the rest of the way, they will end up with a record at the end of the season of 80-82. I think it'll be a smidge better than that. But right now, that's where they are at.