Fun (Small Sample Size) Stats to Tell Your Friends About How Good the 2023 Cubs Have Been
Relative to the rest of the league, the Chicago Cubs (7-5) haven’t had some monster start to the season. As of this morning, they’re still second in their division and have only the 8th best record in baseball by winning percentage. But relative to our expectations? Yeah, that’s a VERY good start.
They’ve already beaten some good teams and have taken down some good starting pitchers. And they have had some really fantastic individual performances, on both sides of the ball.
So if you find yourself in a conversation this weekend with a non-Cubs fan (or even a Cubs fan who hasn’t really been paying attention), here are some fun stats you can throw their way. These are all based on extraordinarily small sample sizes, so be prepared for that retort. But, hey, it’s a Saturday and I’m in a good mood.
- Nico Hoerner has a .340 batting average (21st highest in MLB). He’s also tied for the second most runs scored (13) and the most stolen bases in MLB (7). And while we’re here, his 10.7% strikeout rate is 16th lowest in the game. Why? In large part because he has the 4th highest zone contact rate of anyone in baseball (96.4%). Don’t throw him a strike.
- Dansby Swanson has a .356 batting average (15th highest in MLB) and a .420 OBP (29th). And that’s after an 0-5 game yesterday. He’s also already netted 3 Defensive Runs Saved (9th highest in MLB, fourth among all shortstops)
- Ian Happ is slashing .349/.481/.628 (194 wRC+). That’s the 17th highest batting average, the 5th highest OBP, the 20th highest SLG, and the 8th highest wRC+. And he has almost the same number of walks (11) as strikeouts (12). In fact, his walk rate is 6th highest in baseball, too.
- Cody Bellinger had a rough first series against the Brewers, which was played in the cold and against two of the best starting pitchers in baseball. But since then. he’s slashing .314/.375/.543 (140 wRC+) with a 7.5% strikeout rate, two doubles, and two homers. Plus a stolen base.
- Patrick Wisdom is doing Patrick Wisdom things, slashing .231/.318/.545 (135 wRC+) and is tied for the 11th most home runs in baseball (4).
- Marcus Stroman has a 1.00 ERA (5th lowest in MLB), a 28.2% strikeout rate (22nd), a .161 batting average against (9th), and the best groundball rate among all qualified starting pitchers: 69%.
- Justin Steele has started his season with three straight quality starts and is so far tied for the 4th most innings pitched. His 1.42 ERA ranks 11th, his .152 batting average against is one spot better than Stroman (8th), and he’s allowing just an average exit velocity of 85.4 MPH (7th). Oh, and his groundball rate is also elite (57.4%, 7th).
- Michael Fulmer, the closer, has struck out 42.9% of the batters he’s faced this season (12th among relievers) while walking just 4.8%. That makes him tied for the 4th best K/BB ratio in MLB (9.00).
- Adbert Alzolay has allowed just a .074 batting average against this season (15th and has yet to walk a single batter.
- Mark Leiter Jr. has yet to give up an earned run.
- And five Cubs relievers (Leiter Jr., Keegan Thompson, Fulmer, Boxberger, and Alzolay) have an ERA under 2.00.
- Collectively, the Cubs pitching staff has a 3.83 ERA (9th best in MLB), supported largely by the starting rotation (3.50 ERA, 6th).
- The Cubs pitching staff also has the third highest groundball rate (47.6%) and soft contact rate (19.7%).
- Along those lines, the Cubs pitching staff has the lowest average exit velocity in the National League (86.9 MPH), which is also the second lowest in MLB.
- They’ve given up just 21 barrels (5th lowest) and have allowed just a 33.7% hard hit rate (t-3rd lowest).
- The Cubs offense currently sports a 109 wRC+, which is sixth highest in the NL and 9th highest overall.
- Their .282 team batting average is second in the NL and fourth in MLB, and their team .341 OBP is among the top-10 in baseball. And while SLG wasn’t supposed to be their game (at least not without Seiya Suzuki), they actually have the 9th highest SLG to start the season (.438).
- The Cubs 21.4% line drive rate is tied for 9th best in baseball and their 4.0% infield fly ball rate is 2nd best.
- In terms of plate discipline, the Cubs 21.3% strikeout rate is the 8th lowest and their 10.6% whiff rate is 11th best.