Friday, March 30, 2007

Cubs leave Arizona with bats on fire

Now, I understand that it's only Spring Training, but I love how the Cactus League season turned out and especially how it ended. We only lost one game in the last seven (5 wins, 1 draw) in Arizona and our offense has been amazing.

There are still two exhibition games remaining, but the numbers that our bats have been putting have really excite me. Derrek Lee, who doubled 12 times this month, led all of baseball with a .469 average (30-64), while Aramis Ramirez finished with a .387 (24-62) average. Both tied for the league lead with 19 RBI's, while Ramirez's 7 homeruns led the Cactus League.

Another player worth mentioning is Ryan Theriot, who definitely earned his spot on the roster. He hit .371 (26-70) while stealing seven bases in seven tries. Ronny Cedeno earned his spot, too. He hit .339 (20-59) and clubbed three homers, including a game-winner last week.

The Cubs were last in the National League last year in drawing walks, with only 395. Only three other teams in the league drew fewer than 500 walks and three teams managed more than 600. It appears, for the moment, however, that Lou Piniella and the Cubs fixed that problem. In 30 games, the team drew 109 walks, including 7 or more from six different players. Pro-rating that over a 162-game season, that's 589 walks, which would've been fifth in the National League last year. Also encouraging was the fact that our pitchers allowed just 90 walks, which pro-rates to 486, a much better improvement 687 walks, which was 65 more than any other team last year.

The Cubs also improved on last year's .741 team OPS, as six players had an OPS over or near .900: Derrek Lee (1.290), Aramis Ramirez (1.272), Ronny Cedeno (.985), Cliff Floyd (.970), Michael Barrett (.918), and Matt Murton (.880).

The .571 winning percentage the team posted this Spring computes to 93 wins, which would've not only won the division but would've trailed only the Mets in the entire league.

Of course, I understand how ridiculous all of this speculation is for two reasons, the most obvious being the fact that these numbers are from Spring Training; they don't count. Also, we're pro-rating a month's performance over the course of entire season.

Nonetheless, it does bring optimism to the upcoming season. Is next year finally here?

No comments: