The Chicago Cubs' Magic Numbers are 5 and 9

The Chicago Cubs' Magic Numbers are 5 and 9

Hey y'all! Hope you're doing well. I realize I haven't written anything of substance in a while. I don't think this is going to have much substance either, but anyways, the facts listed here are true just the same.

- The Chicago Cubs are having a really tough time winning low-scoring games. As of Sunday morning, they're just 3-21 in games in which they score fewer than 5 runs. Meanwhile, when they manage to hold an opponent to fewer than 5 runs, they're still just 9-10. Put another way: other teams have beaten the Cubs 10 times when scoring fewer than 5 runs, but the Cubs have beaten other teams just 3 times in the 24 games they've done that. Does that make sense? I realize that's kind of a meandering way to put that. How's this: CUBS ARE 3-21 WHEN THEY SCORE 4 OR LESS

- In a similar vein, the Cubs tend to need lots of hits in order to win. They haven't won a game in which they've collected fewer than 6 hits. And they usually need at least 9 hits to win. Here are the number of hits they collected in each of their 12 wins so far, sorted: 6, 6, 7, 9, 9, 11, 11, 12, 12, 13, 14, 15.

- So you know Pythagorean win expectancy right? You take runs scored and runs allowed, do a little math, and come up with an expected win percentage. I.e., when a team scores as many runs as it allows, you expect its win% to be about .500. Well, the Cubs are underperforming that mark considerably. Their expected record is 16-19, but their actual record is 12-23 (as of Sunday morning).

- So when does a team underperform its PythagWin%? When it lacks clutch hitting and a shutdown bullpen. Related: the Cubs are 2-7 in one-run games, and 1-4 in games that go into extra innings.

- The Indians, Padres, Phillies, and Rangers each have worse run differentials than the Cubs. And each team has at least 5 more wins than Chicago NL. Actually, Texas has 7 more wins.

- The Cubs are 8th in the NL in runs allowed, and 13th in runs scored.

OK I think that's all I've got for you today!


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  • If one wants to get incomprehensible about numbers, there is Len Kasper's column in today's Daily Herald about what Travis Wood's percentage would be if you took out cheap wins (win without a quality start) and unlucky losses (quality starts with a loss). I don't see if he took into account quality starts without a decision.

    The conclusion seems to be that the Cubs have 2 pitchers whose records are being screwed, maybe by what your column is saying, but Bruce Levine indicated on two programs this weekend that one will soon be a Blue Jay.

    Anyway, the numbers may be evidence of offensive and bullpen suckage, but certainly don't do anything about the cause.

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