The Cubs are on a bit of a mini-streak with their come-from-behind win against the Reds in the series finale in Cincinnati as well as two (and could’ve been three if not for the stupid rain) straight against the cross-town rival White Sox. However, they still sit at 21-30, good for a .412 record. The interesting thing is that the Cubs have scored just slightly more than they’ve given up.
Check it out for yourselves: 206 runs scored, 205 runs allowed. Through 51 games, the Cubs should have an expected record of 26-25. The good news is that they are actually better (so far) than the Milwaukee Brewers, who don’t score as much and give up even more runs. Yet for whatever reason, the Cubs have not fared very well against the Brew Crew to this point. Maybe that changes.
Adding another layer of intrigue is some higher-order math that I don’t quite understand but that I’m going to assume is done correctly. Baseball Prospectus shows that, if the Cubs had just a smidge more luck and execution and some other voodoo, they should have a record closer to 28-23 through those 51 games. The funny thing is that the projections still suggest that the Cubs would be better than the Brewers anyway, but still worse by at least a game in the standings than the Pirates, the Reds and the Cardinals. Coincidentally, the three teams above the Cubs in the NL Central also possess the three best records in the majors. The other interesting item is that despite having guys like Miguel Cabrera (who is very very good at baseball again) and Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander, the Detroit Tigers are underperforming their projections almost as poorly as the Cubs are. Except their division kinda sucks so it doesn’t matter.
Of course, you might say that those teams aren’t that good. Maybe the Cubs aren’t this bad. Maybe the Brewers get hot. Maybe the Pirates have their inevitable collapse like they’ve had the past couple seasons. It’s only a third of the way through the season, but with a looming sell-off at the July 31st trade deadline and an eye towards the future, this is more of a thought exercise and a fulfillment of curiosity than a beacon of hope.