We're Halfway Home

The All-Star break is still a few weeks away (July 15th), but yesterday the Cubs unceremoniously reached the halfway point of the 2008 season. Let's take a quick look at where we've been, where we are, and where we're heading.

Last year at this time, the Cubs were an even .500 at 39-39. And they had just won 8 of 10 and 7 straight to get there. They were sitting 6.5 back of the Milwaukee Brewers and 3 game up on the St. Louis Cardinals. Derrek Lee was leading the offensive regulars with a .343 BA in 243 ABs. (Lil Mikey was hitting .408 in 76 ABs.) Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano were leading the team in HRs with 15 each and ARam's 44 Ribs were leading the way. Michael Barrett had just been traded to the Padres for Rob Bowen, Jacque Jones and Cliff Floyd made up 2/3 of the OF, Cesar Izturis had split half time with Ryan Theriot, and Matt Murton, Felix Pie, and Koyie Hill had all seen significant ABs.

(Using pre-All Star game stats for pitchers since I can't get the stats page to cooperate) Carlos Marmol had just started his reign of terror on major league hitters and through 23 games and 28 IPs had amassed 40 Ks and an ERA of 0.96. Sean Marshall was leading the way with the SPs with an Ernie of 3.48 across only 9 GS. Amongst the full-time SPs, Ted Lilly had a staff best 3.67 ERA. Carlos Zambrano had bounced back from a rough start to lead the team in Ws with 10 against his 7 Ls. Angel Guzman, Will Ohman, Wade Miller, Rocky Cherry, Billy Petrick and Clay Rapada had all thrown pitches for the club.

Fast forward to 2008. The Cubs just dropped their 3rd game in a row for the first time all season and came up just short of 50 first half wins. At 49-32 and 17 games over .500, though, who can complain? The Cubs sit atop the NL Central, 3.5 games clear of the Cardinals and 4.5 up on the surging Brew Crew. Ryan Theriot's .317 BA in 290 AB leads the regulars. DLee and Sori's 15 bombs lead the way over ARam's 14. And Ramirez's 55 Ribs best Lee's 51 for the team lead.

Kerry Wood's 2.50 ERA in 39.2 IP is leading the team (discounting Jose Ascanio's 1.8 in only 5 IP). Z's 3.13 in 106.1 IP is good enough for the team lead in ERA for starters. Ryan Dempster leads the way with 9 Ws to only 3 Ls. For the sabermetrically inclined, Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee share the team lead in VORP ($?) at 22.8. Big Z leads the way among pitchers at 29.1.

The Cubs 49 wins is 2nd best in MLB and 1st best in the NL. Their 32 losses is tied for best in MLB. The Cubs 5.46 RS/G is 2nd in MLB and 1st in the NL. Their 4.25 RA/G is 11th best in MLB and 4th best in the NL. Our 1.21 run differential per game is 1st in MLB. The Cubs batters 172 combined VORP is best in MLB and the 104.8 combined pitcher VORP is 9th best in MLB and 2nd in the NL.

Now, let's look ahead towards the 2nd half. The Cubs have 49-32 actual record. With 442 runs scored (2nd in MLB to TEX's 451) to 344 runs allowed (10th best, OAK leads with 287), the Cubs have an expected (Pythagorean) W/L record of 50-31. Baseball Prospectus's Postseason Odds Report (see free link here and always up on our left side bar) projects that the Cubs will finish the year at about 96-66. With 49 wins already, BP is projecting that the Cubs will fare a bit less well in the W column over the course of the 2nd half. At that mark, the Cubs would be tied for best record in MLB with BOS, a game ahead of TAM's 95, and a full 8 games ahead of the predicted 2nd best in the NL PHI's 88. BP projects the Brewers to finish 2nd in the NL Central at 88-74 and the Cardinals to finish 3rd at 87-75.

BP gives the Cubs a 90.79% chance of making the playoffs, best in MLB ahead of BOS's 86.07%. BP puts the Cubs chances at winning the NL Central at 74.85%. If the season were to play out per these calculations, the Cubs would win the NL Central and be headed to the playoffs with home field advantage throughout the NL series. The Cubs would face the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1st round (not being able to face predicted wild card winner MIL as they're in our division), and then take on the winner of a PHI/MIL series.

The most recent predictions at the interesting blog Baseball Playoffs Now have the Cubs losing in the 7th game of the World Series to the Tampa Rays. (I swear to Harry Caray-if that happens, someone is going to have to yank me off the ledge quick).

Who knows what this all really means, but interesting stuff to look at. All I know is this: heading in to the season, if you would have told me the kind of year the Cubs would have had to this point, and that they would have won 49 games at the halfway point, I would have been estatic. 2008 continues to look like a very special season. Granted, it's only June. But as Cubs fans, without hope, what the hell do we have? On to the 2nd half today-let's beat those bastards from the Soufside.

Comment (1)

Wrigleyville

June 29, 2008 at 8:37 PM

is it me, or is the red hard to see?

(i am colorblind, so i apologize for complaining.)