I Started Writing About Why the Cubs Are Too Low in These Power Rankings … and Then I Talked Myself Out of It
Generally speaking, I’m not one for getting overly thoughtful about team power rankings. Either as a doer or as a consumer. They can be kinda interesting sometimes – which is enough of a reason to check in on them – but as a matter of instruction, I don’t know how much weight you can ever really give them.
Michael sent one over my way this morning as just kind of a “hey, check this thing out,” and so I suppose that’s mostly what I’m doing here. Hey, check this thing out.
All that said, I do want to comment on the Chicago Cubs placement at number 20, in part because these are initial power rankings. They set the stage for what is to come, and they can be more narrative/evaluative than a set of statistical projections might be. It’s a little easier to make the point I want to make.
The Cubs, like I said, come in at number 20, a spot behind the White Sox and a spot ahead of the Orioles (boy could I see those situations really flipping this year). The Cardinals (11) and Brewers (12) are obviously ahead of the Cubs in the NL Central, as they reasonably should be at this moment. Superficially, this all seems correct.
But the Cubs at 20 means they are ranked lower now than where they finished last season in the actual standings (18th). And then the Cubs went out and, in my view, inarguably got better this offseason. So how is it, then, that the Cubs actually look WORSE now than they factually finished last year?
These aren’t rhetorical questions, because there are plausible answers. Several teams behind the Cubs in last year’s standings got “more better” than the Cubs did, for example, would be a possible answer. Or you could argue the Cubs’ 74-88 record last year was not reflective of their true talent.
If you want to engage me on those types of arguments, that’s OK by me, because I think there’s probably at least an angle or two.
Yet I can’t help but feel like it just seems wrong that the Cubs rate out right now as the 20th team in baseball after this past offseason and after finishing 18th last year.
The two teams that moved ahead of the Cubs are the Rangers and the Angels, each of which … well … did have strong offseasons and could arguably be better than the Cubs on paper. Hmm. Should the Cubs be ahead of any of the teams near them in these rankings – the White Sox, the Giants, the Angels, the Twins, the Rangers, the Red Sox? Oh, I don’t know. I could actually probably argue that each of those teams is, right now, better on paper than the Cubs.
Maybe I’m talking myself out of it now? Maybe it really is true that, although the Cubs did have a strong offseason and clearly improved, they didn’t improve as much as some other teams projected to be in their tier? And some teams ahead of them last year simply didn’t fall back far enough, on paper, to drop behind them in a set of rankings like this?
Maybe this all started because I’m just a homer at the homer-iest time of the baseball calendar and I hate the idea that the Cubs are appropriately ranked the 11th worst team in baseball? That’s probably the main thing here, actually. Cognitive dissonance is a b.
OK. Yeah. I definitely talked myself out of being annoyed about these rankings. The Cubs look like they should be right around that number 20 range right now, and that’s probably going to remain the case until and unless they show that they’ve got something cooking in April and May.