State of the Cubs Halftime Edition

The All Star break is kind of like half time for a baseball season even though teams have played more than half the games already (81).  Today let’s look at the State of the Cubs at halftime.  Our data can only accurately describe what happened in the first half.  We are not oracles here who can predict the future.

<rant> Today is net neutrality day.  The Internet is a world wonder that has grown over 4 decades through the efforts of millions of people of all political persuasions.  It is under attack by monopolies who want to become gatekeepers and turn this many to many communication platform into one to many like broadcast TV.  This blog exists because we do not need permission from anyone.  That could change unless us users make our voices heard to either break up these last mile monopolies or regulate them like your gas and electric companies.  Google, call your Congress critter, and don’t take what we have now for granted.  </rant>

That said let’s get to team statuses.

BAT PITCH Rs Ra W L UR LR TeamID
-6.5 27.2 356 336 39 38 -3.2 2.4 CHN 6/28/2017
-15.4 22.9 399 399 43 45 -9.3 1.9 CHN 7/12/2017

Last two weeks the Cubs went 4-7 bleeding 3 games putting them 2 under for the season.  Their BAT tanked and PITCH is slightly down even with the Lester disaster  Sunday.  That wasn’t that much of a disaster for pitching because there were 6 unearned runs given up and the Cubs lost a lot of ground in the UR category.  Bottom line it was only one game and it doesn’t matter if they lose 25-0 or 2-1, MLB only counts each of those scores as a single loss.

Let’s look at the top Cubs players.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+116+ 1.81 Wade_Davis_CHN PITCH
+130+ 1.70 Carl_Edwards_CHN PITCH
+135+ 1.66 Anthony_Rizzo_CHN 1B
+160+ 1.43 Brian_Duensing_CHN PITCH
+199+ 1.13 Koji_Uehara_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.05 Pedro_Strop_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.01 Mike_Montgomery_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.99 Ian_Happ_CHN CF-2B-LF
XXXXX 0.86 Kris_Bryant_CHN 3B
XXXXX 0.61 Eddie_Butler_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.48 Willson_Contreras_CHN CR
XXXXX 0.40 Kyle_Hendricks_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.38 Hector_Rondon_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.29 Jon_Lester_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.25 Javier_Baez_CHN 2B-SS

No one in top 100 and all Cubs’  pitchers in top 200 are relievers.  Cubs relief is carrying this team.  Combined Cubs relief is over +7 which means if that staff played completely average the Cubs would be 9 games under or around where the White Sox are now.  Lester and Montgomery have fallen but still in above average territory.

Normally I would insert a blast from the past here but that would be too depressing.  Even though the Cubs slumped into All Star break last season they were still top of the league albeit a little humbler.  Let’s do a math exercise of what if.  What if all of a sudden the core of last year’s World Series champions started playing that way again.  What kind of record can we expect at the end of the season?

First let’s take a look at how last season ended for these players.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+002+ 8.88 Kyle_Hendricks_CHN PITCH
+004+ 8.02 Jon_Lester_CHN PITCH
+007+ 7.01 Kris_Bryant_CHN 3B-LF-RF
+021+ 5.44 Anthony_Rizzo_CHN 1B
+035+ 4.77 Jake_Arrieta_CHN PITCH
+077+ 3.46 John_Lackey_CHN PITCH
+094+ 3.04 Ben_Zobrist_CHN 2B-LF-RF
+097+ 2.98 Addison_Russell_CHN SS

Simply astonishing!  To make the math easy divide all those numbers above by half and add them up we get around +22.  The Cubs are currently at -2 so they would end the year at +20 which is a record of 91-71.  That should be plenty to win the NL Central this season.  Kyle Schwarber is missing above and if he plays like second half of 2015 that’s another +3 or +4 so the Cubs have the potential to finish with 92-94 wins this season.

We won’t know until they play the second half.  A few days ago we analyzed the Cardinals’ playoff first half/second half splits.  Can’t let a good script go to waste so let’s look at the Cubs but we’ll have to travel way back in time to pick up the same amount of data we had for the Cardinals.  Here is a similar table.

Year First Half Second Half
W L WAA W L WAA
1935 40 32 8 60 22 38  2nd
1938 38 31 7 51 32 19  2nd
1945 42 28 14 56 28 28  2nd
1969 53 32 21 39 38 1  1st
1984 48 36 12 48 29 19  2nd
1989 46 39 7 47 30 17  2nd
1998 48 39 9 42 34 8  equal
2003 45 44 1 43 30 13  2nd
2007 44 43 1 41 34 7  2nd
2008 54 36 18 43 28 15  1st
2015 46 38 8 51 27 24  2nd
2016 52 34 18 51 24 27  2nd

The Cubs were only first half teams in 2008 and 1969.  Although they didn’t make the playoffs in 1969 they should have.   The WAAs are color coded above.  The blue highlights show the greater WAA half.  Bold blue means more than 10 game difference.  The tan highlights show the lessor WAA hopefully to make this table easier to read.  We like to consolidate data here but there is no way to consolidate the above.  The bold brown years show when the Cubs went to a World Series.  Like the Cardinals they went 4 times but lost 3.  We all know which 3.

tl;dr The Cubs have always been a second half team so this season will be no different if they can manage to make the playoffs this year.

That’s enough for now.  I’ve been considering doing a state of the White Sox.  If you think the Cubs are depressing now, look at the White Sox.  We may take a look see into their minor leagues to see what they have brewing for next season.  Hopefully they got something good for Eaton, a trade we recommended here.