Quantifying Hope: Cubs Kinda Look Like Contenders with 99.8% Playoff Odds

Far be it for me to take the wind out of anyone’s sails, but Cubs fans might want to slow down on all the playoff/World Series talk. Nothing is guaranteed in this world, and that goes double for baseball. I mean, who knows, this could be one of the two iterations in a thousand in which the Cubs don’t end playing game 163 and beyond. Talk about tempering expectations.

With a win Friday, the Cubs moved to 38-15, the best mark in the majors by 5 games. In fact, their 23-game buffer with .500 represents at least as many wins as five other teams have accumulated in total. Their 9.5-game lead on the Pirates in the Central is a wider margin than that separating the entire AL East (8) and West (7.5).

St. Louis (294) and Boston (327) have scored more runs than the Cubs’ 290, but those two teams’ combined run differential of 116 still falls well short of the 140-run surplus the Cubs have amassed. Baseball is as much about run prevention as it is run scoring, and in that the Cubs are better than any other team. And it’s really not even close.

Only three teams have allowed fewer than 200 runs on the season, with the Mets (177) and Nationals (179) standing as the only two within 54 runs of the 150 the Cubs have given up. With 6 2/3 shutout innings in his last start, John Lackey lowered his ERA to 2.88 and joined the rest of the rotation in sub-3 territory. In fact, the starting staff has a combined ERA of 2.33 and is the only group in the majors lower than 3.14 (Mets).

If we add in the bullpen, the Cub’ 2.55 mark is still easily the best in the league, though the Nationals (3.01) close the gap slightly. Not too shabby. Then again, try telling that to Hector Rondon, who can’t get any save chances because the Cubs routinely blow other teams out late in games.

But Rondon will eventually get his, just as we’ll most certainly see some of these gaudy numbers normalize a bit as the season goes on. We’re already a third of the way into the season though, so it’s not as if this stuff is all smoke and mirrors. No it comes down to continuing to do the little things right and to making sure these guys don’t just rest on their laurels and take things for granted. I don’t believe they will, just saying.

99.8 percent. Yeah, that sounds pretty solid.

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