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A Brief Look Back/Forward at the 2016 Cubs

Wow, what a season! It seems like just yesterday it was April and we were gearing up for the most anticipated Cub's season since 2004. Remember how excited we all were for that year? Maddux was back, Prior and Wood were going to battle for the Cy Young, and we had a full year of Sosa and Ramirez to look forward to. Unfortunately, none of that panned out. 2016 has had a much better taste than 2004 did so far. So the regular 162 games are over and the Cubs ended up with a record of 103-58 plus a rain shortened game that ended in a tie where the stats counted but didn't factor into the overall record. Prior to the season, I predicted that the Cubs would win 103 and lose 59. I got it half right.

Why the Cubs Were Successful

Because they did everything well. They can hit, they can pitch, and they can field. They ended up with a run differential of +252. That's kind of good. The second best run differential in baseball was the Boston Red Sox with +184, a number that was an outlier itself. To further show how remarkable +252 is, only two other teams had a +100 or better run differential (Nationals +151, Indians +101). Using the team statistics on Fangraphs, the Cubs were the second best hitting team, fourth best pitching team, and the best fielding team by a large measure.

What's Next

For now we wait. The San Francisco Giants will play the New York Mets on Wednesday night to determine who will square off with the Cubs in the Division Series. Both the Giants and Mets are flawed, but scary teams. The Giants have two elite starting pitchers in Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto who are capable of really dominating any game they take the ball in. The Giants are also experienced in navigating through the postseason, as evidenced by their World Series victories in 2010, 2012, and 2014. The Mets have Noah Syndergaard and an offense that has really picked it up of late. The Mets also knocked out the 2015 Cubs in the National League Championship Series 4 games to 0.

Personally, I hope the Mets beat the Giants on Wednesday night. Anything can happen in Octoberb but the beating the depleted Met's pitching staff feels like an easier battle. Not to look ahead of either of the Wild Card teams, the other series in the National League features the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are the scarier team with Clayton Kershaw and the ageless Rich Hill. The Dodgers just don't feel like a team that will go quietly into the night.

The last day of the regular season is always a somber day for me. For the last six months I've got to enjoy baseball basically every day. Now that is over. Luckily though, the playoffs are here. Between now and Jon Lester's first pitch at Wrigley on Friday night, there will be more build up than we can even imagine. Every possible story will be written, the Cub's magical 2016 will be a national media talking point, and we'll hear about 1908 and 108 years more times than we'll care to count. No matter what happens in the next few weeks in October, it's going to be an exciting and anxious ride. The 2016 season has already been one of the most enjoyable I've yet to experience. There's only one way it could get even better. Luckily, even if that doesn't happen, it's already the best Cubs season in 106 years. What more can we ask for?

Published on 10/2/2016 11:09:49 PM

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