Monday, May 9, 2011

The Doormats of the National League

It is early in the season, but this Cubs fan feels no optimism.

At the moment of this writing, the Cubs are sitting comfortably in 4th place of their division. They are one and a half games ahead of Milwaukee and two and a half ahead of the cellar dwelling Astros.

Something disruptive must happen
to save the Cubs 2011 season.
I say they are comfortably in 4th place because it's clear to anyone paying attention that the Cubs have, for all intents and purposes, punted the 2011 season. They're treading water until future payroll flexibility, from expired contracts and added ballpark revenue streams, allows them to seriously contend. The infuriating part isn't that the team cannot contend on a year-in-year out basis, but rather that they cannot be honest with themselves for a complete rebuilding job.

They could have lost 100 games, while playing their homegrown talent and keeping the minor leagues loaded, and had a more successful year than they'll likely have. Of course, what happened this offseason instead, is the front office tried to remain relatively competitive in an effort to save their jobs. They spent money on stopgaps, like Carlos Peña, which they could have more wisely spent on the draft or relief pitching. They traded away a handful of good players for Matt Garza. We have nothing against Garza, but no team should trade away valuable young players to improve from a 91-loss team to an 81-loss team. Neither team makes the playoffs, but the team with the better farm system has a brighter future. The Cubs punted on the 2011 season, but they were at the 45 yard line and kicked it through the back of the endzone.

Baseball-Reference has recently included their Simple Rating System (SRS) with their Standings. It's not just on extremely detailed charts; they have it on their homepage.

The site describes SRS as "the number of runs per game that they are better (or worse) than the average team."

SRS = Run Differential (R_diff) + Strength of Schedule (SOS)


The rating system was modeled after NCAA football's BCS rankings method and clearly explained in this article.

Looking at the National League, ranked by SRS shows everything you need to know about how the Cubs have played this season.

Rk Tm W L W-L% GB R RA Rdiff SOS SRS ▾
1  ATL 20 16 .556 1.5 4.2 3.0 1.2 0.1 1.3
2 PHI 22 11 .667 --- 4.4 3.3 1.1 0.1 1.2
3 STL 20 15 .571 1.0 5.2 4.0 1.3 -0.1 1.2
4  FLA 20 13 .606 --- 4.6 4.0 0.6 0.1 0.8
5  CIN 18 16 .529 2.5 5.1 4.5 0.6 -0.3 0.3
6 COL 18 14 .563 1.5 4.3 3.9 0.4 -0.3 0.1
Avg 16 16 .500 4.1 4.1
7  SFG 18 16 .529 2.5 3.5 3.6 0.0 -0.1 -0.1
8  WSN 16 18 .471 4.5 3.6 4.1 -0.6 0.5 -0.1
9  NYM 15 19 .441 5.5 4.2 4.5 -0.3 0.2 -0.1
10  MIL 14 20 .412 6.5 3.8 4.2 -0.4 0.3 -0.2
11  ARI 15 18 .455 5.0 4.7 4.9 -0.2 -0.1 -0.3
12  PIT 17 17 .500 3.5 3.8 4.1 -0.4 -0.1 -0.4
13  SDP 14 20 .412 6.5 3.1 3.6 -0.6 -0.1 -0.6
14  LAD 16 19 .457 5.0 3.6 4.5 -0.9 0.0 -0.9
15  HOU 13 21 .382 7.5 4.3 5.3 -1.0 0.1 -1.0
16  CHC 15 18 .455 5.0 3.8 4.8 -0.9 -0.4 -1.3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/9/2011.

Unfortunately, the Cubs have been looking
up at their competition for lifetimes.

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