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The 2016 Cubs are Great at Everything (So Far)

Sometimes in baseball a team's statistics don't necessarily follow their win-loss record. This year's Cubs team is not one of those teams. Through 19 games, the Cubs record is sitting at 14-5. That record is good enough to hold a 3.5 game lead on the second place Cardinals in the National League central. That record is also the second best in baseball to the 14-4 Washington Nationals. The Cubs statistics are even more impressive than the win-loss record. What's more, the Cubs are playing well in every facet of the game.


As the Cubs were cruising to an 8 to 1 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday, April 22, Reds announcer Thom Brennaman said something I won't forget soon. Brennaman said, "Enough already!" This was on a Kris Bryant double in the top of the 9th that tacked on the last run of the night. It was the perfect sentiment to capture the Cubs offense so far this season. As a team, the Cubs have a 14.2 Off (Offensive Runs above average). This is good for 4th best in all of baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals are pacing the league with 21.8 Off.

By fWAR, the Cubs are at 5.6 which is second best in the league to the Pittsburgh Pirates (5.7). The Cubs are also dominating on the base paths as exhibited by their 4.8 BsR which is far and away the best in the league.

Top Individual Performers by WAR
  1. Dexter Fowler 1.9 (leading the league)
  2. Kris Bryant 0.8
  3. Anthony Rizzo 0.7
  4. Jason Heyward 0.6
  5. Addison Russell 0.4


Pitching has been another strong suit of the Cubs. The starters have been churning out quality start after quality start this season. The advanced stats are looking good too. The Cubs are currently tied for second with the Chicago White Sox and Washington Nations at 3.8 WAR. The New York Mets are the dominant leaders with 4.7 WAR. Note that Fangraphs WAR usually skews to teams that strike out a lot of batters.

The Cubs staff is also well represented when looking at FIP and xFIP where the Cubs are third in the league in both. Their FIP is 3.01 (1. Mets 2.27 2. Nationals 2.99). Their xFIP is 3.09 (1. Mets 2.98 2. Yankees 3.05).

Top Individual Performers by WAR
  1. Jake Arrieta 0.8 (11th in the league)
  2. Jason Hammel 0.8
  3. Jon Lester 0.5
  4. John Lackey 0.5
  5. Kyle Hendricks 0.5
  6. Hector Rondon 0.4 (he's been too impressive not to list in limited action)


With the addition of a perennial gold glover in right field, everyone expected the Cubs to improve in the outfield. Heyward has not disappointed out there bringing in 1.9 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average). As a whole, the Cubs are sitting at 14.8 Def which is second best in the league to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Fowler has been a revelation in center field this year with 3.2 Def so far. This is amazing considering he had 0.6 all of last year and has -48.9 for his career. Fowler has been playing deeper this season and it is paying off.

Cubs Def Leaders with League Rank
  1. Addison Russel SS 3.4 Def (4)
  2. Dexter Fowler CF 3.2 Def (5)
  3. Kris Bryant 3rd 2.1 Def (20)
  4. Jason Heyward RF 1.9 Def (27)
  5. Ben Zobrist 2nd 0.3 Def (78) - One Spot Ahead of Starlin Castro

Are These Number Sustainable?

I'm going to go out on a limb and say the pitching will drop, but the offense and defense will possibly get even better. Hammel is due for a little bit of regression but Arrieta and Lester could stand to do a little better. Lackey and Hendricks will probably stay around the same level. The bullpen, once it is used a bit more, will likely fall to around tenth best in the league. There are too many guys without "electric" stuff to sustain the current numbers. From a FIP standpoint for the entire staff, the numbers will go up but traditional numbers like ERA and WHIP should still be top five in the league on the strength of the starters and the great defense that is playing behind them.

Through 19 games, this is the best Cub team I've ever seen. This team is so much more well-rounded than the past great Cub teams, like 2008 and 2015. From on base skills (Fowler, Zobrist, etc) to power (Bryant, Rizzo) to base running (Heyward, Bryant, Baez) to fielding (Russell, Heyward) to front line pitching (Arrieta, Lester) The Cubs have it covered on the field. They even have versatility on the bench and out of the pen (Baez, LaStella, Warren, Cahill). The previous teams didn't have the complement pieces that could deliver like this one can. This team will not only continue to be great statistically, but it will also continue to win a lot of games.

Published on 4/25/2016 9:47:53 PM

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