Quantifying Hope: Cubs Looking to Win 100 Games for First Time in 81 Years
By all accounts, the Cubs have a 100% chance of making the playoffs. They’re 36 games over .500 with 36 games left to play, though, so it’s still numerically possible for them to finish with an even record. And if the Cardinals win their last 37 games, the Cubs would need to go 23-13 to keep pace. Absent such an historic run, closing out with just a .528 winning percentage (19-17) nets the Cubs 100 wins. Seems like a foregone conclusion given their success to this point, huh?
That’s almost too bad because it kinda glosses over the magnitude of the accomplishment. While it was widely speculated that this team was capable of winning the division and putting up some big numbers, I don’t know that many people realized the significance of 100 wins. Only five Cubs teams have ever eclipsed that mark, none in the last 81 years. They did it four times from 1906-10 (99 wins in 1908) and then again in 1935 (a team that won an MLB-record 21 consecutive games), but have only won 90 or more games eight times since.
Placed in that context, putting up 100 wins after notching 97 last season would be pretty epic. Then again, as an astute egg pointed out to Bleacher Nation’s Brett Taylor recently, those wins are all wiped away on October 3. Indeed they are, which is what makes the playoffs such a stressful enterprise. Flukes and slumps can be ironed out over the course of a 162-game season, but mountains become mole hills when it’s win-or-go-home time. That’s where Joe Maddon’s tinkering and the Cubs’ flexibility may really pay off.
Whether because of injuries or just “why the hell not,” Maddon has moved his players all over the field and all over the lineup. Pitchers have been forced into higher-leverage situations as guys in the back end have spent time on the shelf and swingmen have made spot starts. And while the lineup and pitching staff should be a little more static in October, the ability to shift on the fly if need be means that the Cubs won’t be grasping at straws when the inevitable curveballs come their way.
It’d be foolish to think we’ll be spared further awful opinions about how flawed the Cubs really are over the next five weeks, though the remainder of the season should prove a relaxing run-up to the NLDS and (knock wood) beyond. That goes double for a playoff matchup with the Cardinals. We’ve got plenty of time to fret over that when it comes, so let’s just focus on the fun stuff for now.
The Cubs are going to make the playoffs and they’re probably going to win 100 games on the way there. Enjoy it.