Saturday, June 30, 2007

Don't look now, but the Cubs are rolling (part 2)

Regular readers of my blog may remember the post that I made on May 2. It had the same title as this one.

The Cubs were coming off of a double victory on that day and pulled within 2 games of the .500 mark. They also pulled within 5 1/2 games of the first-place Brewers. What we didn't know at that time was that nearly two months later, the Cubs would never get closer than 5 games.

After sweeping Washington and peeking their heads above .500 at 15-14, the Cubs dropped 17 of their next 24, including a season-low six game losing streak. Funny thing is that we only lost two games in the standings, and stood 7 1/2 games back at that point.

Since snapping that streak, however, the Cubs won 17 of the next 25, including the current seven-game streak to get back to the .500 mark. During that time, we only picked up one game, managing to remain 6 1/2 off the pace. It seems like we've been winning when Milwaukee has been winning and we've been losing when they've been losing.

It's interesting to look at some of the things that were on the May 2 post and see how what I thought about the Cubs stacks up 52 games later:

"Derrek Lee is 19 for his last 32 in the past eight games and has doubled at least once in each one of those games, raising his season average to .415 and his OPS to a staggering 1.092. That number is especially outstanding when you consider the fact that Lee has homered only once so far. He's doubled 17 times though."

The season average and OPS were going to drop. But Lee's managed to keep them at a level that is still outstanding. His .346 average is second-best in the league and his .932 OPS is impressive, because he's hit just 6 homers all year. Lee's kept his doubles pace up -- he now has 26.

"Alfonso Soriano, despite missing over a week due to the hamstring injury has still recorded 84 official times at-bat and collected 26 hits (.310 average) and 11 doubles (.512 slugging)."

His on-base percentage at the time was .341. It's gone up to .353 now. The average has risen to .321 and the slugging to .552 as he now has 42 extra-base hits, including 15 homers.

"You can't help but thinking how good this team will be once Zambrano, Howry, and Eyre start pitching well and when Soriano and Lee start hitting homeruns consistently. Knowing the Cubs luck though, Marquis, Hill, and Lilly will forget how to grip a baseball at that point."

Let's do a before-and-after comparison, shall we?

Carlos Zambrano:
Up to May 2: 2-2, 5.77 ERA
Since May 2: 7-4, 3.51 ERA
Note: Since June 2: 4-1, 1.43 ERA

Bob Howry:
Up to May 2: 0-2, 3.29 ERA; 4 holds, 0/1 saves
Since May 2: 5-2, 4.68 ERA; 5 holds, 2/5 saves
Note: 4 earned runs allowed in last 16 innings (2.25 ERA).

Scott Eyre:
Up to May 2: 0-1, 12.27 ERA
Since May 2: 0-0, 4.82 ERA
Note: 2 holds since May 2, none before.

Alfonso Soriano:
Up to May 2: 2 HR in 84 AB
Since May 2: 13 HR in 226 AB
Note: 14 of 15 HR's this year with bases empty.

Derrek Lee:
Up to May 2: 1 HR in 106 AB
Since May 2: 5 HR in 177 AB
Note: Pro-rating his "since May 2" numbers over 630 AB produces only 18 HR.

Jason Marquis:
Up to May 2: 4-1, 2.10 ERA
Since May 2: 1-3, 4.42 ERA
Note: All quality starts before May 2; only two QS since.

Rich Hill:
Up to May 2: 3-1, 1.77 ERA
Since May 2: 2-4, 3.94 ERA
Note: Allowed four or more earned runs 1 before May 2, 4 times since.

Ted Lilly:
Up to May 2: 2-2, 2.82 ERA
Since May 2: 4-2, 4.80 ERA
Note: Lilly supported with four runs or more (in entire game) 7 times since May 2.

Chicago Cubs:
Up to May 2: 12-14, 5 1/2 games behind
Since May 2: 27-25, lost 1 game in NL central

It's pretty interesting to see how things turned out the way they did. I mean, all of the players had track records and we all knew that they would turn around (good or bad), eventually but it's interesting to look at the numbers side-by-side.

"As long as we keep pace with the Cards and Astros, we're good, because Milwaukee can't run away with the division, right? Or can they? We've been trained to think that the Brewers are not a good ball club for so long that it's stuck, but it's time we start jumping on a horse to catch those pesky Brewers."

We're 3 games in front of St. Louis and 6 games in front of Houston. Still trailing the Brewers though, who stand at 46-33...

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