Speaking strictly statistically, things are not looking good for the 2009 Chicago Cubs.
Last night’s heartbreaking loss (haven’t they all been heartbreaking this year?), coupled with the St. Louis Cardinals’ win over the Dodgers dropped the Cubs six games back in the National League Central. Though the Cubs are just five games back in the Wild Card, they trail four teams – making a Wild Card run highly improbable.
So if it’s going to happen this year for the Cubs, it’s almost certainly going to have to be a victory in the NL Central.
But how exactly is that going to happen? And no, I don’t mean “what changes do the Cubs have to make.” I simply mean, statistically – wins and losses.
The Chicago Cubs stand at 60 – 56, with 46 games remaining.
The St. Louis Cardinals stand at 68 – 52, with 42 games remaining.
If the Cardinals play .500 ball the rest of the way (not bloodly likely given how absurdly they’ve been playing), they will finish at 89 – 73. That means to overtake the Cards, the Cubs would have to finish their last 46 games going 30 – 16, which amounts to a .652 winning percentage. Not unheard of, but a tall task.
Worse still, if the Cardinals simply continue their current pace – .567 – they will win 24 of their last 42 games, putting their final record at 92 – 70. In that scenario, the Cubs would have to go 33 – 13, a .717 winning percentage, to overtake the Cardinals.
Could the Cubs actually do it? Well, maybe.
As we have all learned – painfully – this year’s Chicago Cubs club can only beat crummy teams. The Cubs have not won a series against a winning team in three months.
But here’s the thing: the Cubs play 33 of their remaining 46 games against teams with a losing record. If the Cubs win 2/3 of their games against those losing teams (they do), and win just 1/3 against the winning teams (they do), that would project to a 26 – 16 record over the final 42 games. Barring a mini-collapse by the Cardinals, that isn’t likely to do the trick.
But that’s just the Cubs’ season averages against winning and losing teams this year. If the Cubs can manage to play .500 ball against the winning teams, and keep taking down the losers at a .667 clip, they could win 28 or 29 games to close out the year, and would have a very real shot at taking the NL Central.
It’s bleak. There’s no debating that at this point. But it ain’t over.