The Cubs sure are the flavor of the moment, aren’t they?
I suppose it’s hard not to be when nearly every statistic that is referenced mentions a qualifier along the line of, “In the modern era …” or “Since the first Roosevelt was president …” or “Never before in the history of existence … ”
The Chicago Cubs are 24-6 on the early 2016 season, the best start since 1907. Their run differential is an astounding +102, the best such run differential through 30 games since 1903.
Although, I’m fairly certain that, if you’re here reading this piece, you’re already well aware of those two tidbits of information. They’ve been plastered everywhere, retweeted, shared, vined, Flamboozled (okay, that last one is fake, but admit it: for a second you thought you were out of the loop) and everything in between. [Brett: Add Bleacher Nation to your power cube on Flamboozle to experience this story via scent.]
But those are just the results. They’re undeniably awesome results, but how about the stats that got them there? In a piece at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron takes a look at the statistics behind what makes the Cubs look like a perfect baseball team, and it is well worth your time.
I don’t want to spoil too much of the piece, so I’m just going to give you some of the basics, and encourage you to check it out for yourself, including the extremely interesting series of charts.
Okay, to start, in exactly 16 different statistics ranging from offense to defense to pitching, the Chicago Cubs are currently a top five team in baseball. In fact, taking it a step further, they are the top team in eight categories, second best in four categories, third best in three categories and fifth best in just one. That is absolute and utter dominance. In just about every single way, the Chicago Cubs have been a near perfect team so far.
But, if you were wondering, they aren’t actually the first team to find such great success across the board like this. In fact, Cameron identifies a total of eight teams in the past 30 years that qualify as “No Weakness” teams. The list is as follows (in no particular order):
– 2001 Mariners (116 wins)
– 1998 Yankees
– 1998 Astros
– 2011 Rangers
– 2011 Yankees
– 2005 Indians
– 1988 Mets
– 1994 White Sox
And while each individual team may have one strength greater than the rest, the sum of their parts makes each an historically good, extremely deep, nearly no-weakness Major League Baseball Team.
To conclude, Cameron acknowledges that, despite their current pace, it’s fairly unlikely that the Cubs will reach that 116 win threshold, but that it is certainly possible. A lot would have to fall in their favor (not unlike the 2015 Cubs, to be sure), but “there’s nothing to suggest that the Cubs have an exploitable hole that teams are going to take advantage of as the summer wears on.” Sounds plenty good to me.