As you can probably guess, this season has been very painful and it’s been difficult at best to generate any kind of excitement for a rebuilding club that’s still on the “suck” phase of the plan. We’ve had some bright spots with the young guys being called up until reality set in and we realized that they would struggle and as such, the team would struggle as well. Every day is a learning experience for the noobs. So what do we have to do to motivate ourselves to keep caring about this team? Well, I guess it’s time for another random top ten list.
Top Ten List
Random Items To Keep Us Interested (In Theory, Anyway)
10. Will anyone ever hit .300 again?
Of course by now most of you realize that batting average is but one aspect of a player’s offensive game and that it doesn’t really matter all that much. After all, a guy like Adam Dunn bats .200 but still has almost 40 homers, so obviously he must be doing something right (he actually leads the American League in the three true outcome categories last I checked). It is nice though to see a guy with a nice, round .300 average or better because you know that his ability plus a bit of Lady Luck is helping him produce for his team. Unfortunately for these Cubs, there are no more .300 hitters on the team…at least position-player-wise. Reed Johnson was hitting .302 for the Cubs before he was traded. A couple of pitchers (Casey Coleman and Chris Rusin) actually have .300+ batting averages but they’ve only hit 5 times between them so that doesn’t mean anything. Two guys who used to be hitting .300 but then went into mega-slumps are Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. All-Star Bryan LaHair (say that with a straight face) took a free-fall after his hot start. It would take a hell of a hot streak in these last 37 games to get to .300, but it’s at least mathematically possible.
9. Can the Cubs get their team on-base percentage over .300?
Check this out…of all the teams in MLB, the Cubs are only slightly better than the Mariners at getting on base as a group. What’s sad is that the Mariners don’t have an auto-out pitcher in the lineup for the bulk of their games. At .297, that means the Cubs make an out in over 70% of their plate appearances. It’s no wonder they can’t score. Maybe in this last month or so they can work on this a bit.
8. Can Alfonso Soriano get to 30 homers?
Soriano earlier this season became the third active player to hit 20 or more homers in each of the last 11 seasons (including this one) and also the only Cub other than the great Andre Dawson to hit 20+ in each of their first six Cubs seasons. He’s sitting on 23 now, so a hot streak could get him to 30. That’d be kind of cool.
7. Can Alfonso Soriano get to 100 RBI?
Now RBI, or runs batted in, is dependent more on his teammates getting on base in front of him (good luck with that sub-.300 team OBP) but right now Soriano has 77 RBI, so he’s just 23 off. If they can keep loading the bases and he gets anything from a sac fly to a grand slam, he could make it there in a jiffy. But I’m probably way too optimistic.
6. Can David DeJesus get to 60 BB?
As you saw earlier in the list, the Cubs suck at getting on base. They walk only in 6.8% of their plate appearances which is dead last in the majors. Thankfully for them, DeJesus has a good eye and has done his fair share of making pitchers work. So far he’s at 48 BB. It’s going to be a far cry from when Carlos Pena walked 101 times last season (which I think only I appreciated) but it’s better than not walking at all. A man on base is a potential run, see?
5. Can Starlin Castro catch Tony Campana in the stolen base department?
Starlin has 20 right now, while Tony has 26. Naturally this is going to get really interesting as guys like Campana are about to be called up when rosters expand in September. It also bears noting that Starlin has a penchant for getting his silly self thrown out on the bases because he picks some really bad spots to try to steal. This’ll be a tough one.
4. When will they shut Jeff Samardzija down?
Samardzija has now pitched 151.2 innings, which is 10 more than he has ever gone in his professional career in one season. He seems to be doing alright but I’m guessing that he has maybe four or five starts left at this point before the 180 inning mark and he’s done. That said…
3. Can Jeff Samardzija get his ERA under 4?
It’s another one of those stats that doesn’t carry as much weight as some of his peripherals (like his really nice strikeout rate of 9.1 K/9) but it would still be nice to say that in his very first full season as a starter he was able to achieve a respectable ERA. Right now he’s at 4.09.
2. Can the Cubs finish with a winning home record?
It’s really amusing to think that the Cubs have a 31-29 record at Wrigley Field. Then you realize that it means they have a 17-48 road record. But with 21 games left at home, the Cubs only need to win 10 of them to finish 41-40 for the season. Just throwing that out there, they may be complete shit on the road but they’re actually kind of respectable at home. Worth keeping an eye on.
1. Can the Cubs capture the #1 pick in next year’s draft?
After today’s action, the Cubs are nine games ahead of the Astros. I mean, holy sweet baseball gods the Astros are terrible. There are various reasons that we should hope for the top pick, but for whatever reason the Astros and Cubs can’t coordinate their winning and losing so that Chicago can make up the difference. It’s more likely the Cubs end up with the #2 pick (at least top three) but there’s no reason to give up hope just yet, even though the Astros became the first team to be mathematically eliminated from contending for the division. Hey, at least the Cubs aren’t so bad that they got mathematically eliminated in August, right?