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Northside Archives: Familiarity Breeds A Beatdown

Written by , Posted in General

There are a lot of reasons to be happy that the 2011 season is finally over. But perhaps the biggest reason is that the Cubs won’t have to face an NL Central foe again until next year when the Brewers come to Wrigley on April 9th. That gives us a great chance to start the year (against the Nationals) with the chance at a couple of wins. What am I talking about? The 2011 Chicago Cubs were historically bad in a lot of ways, specifically within their own division.

Take a glance at the team by team grid at ESPN or the expanded standings at SI and you’ll see a common theme. The Cubs struggled against virtually everyone in the NL Central.

The Cubs managed a winning record against only one team in the NL Central – the AAAAstros. And even that record was an unimpressive 8-7.

Except for the four game sweep in Pittsburgh during the first week of August, the Pirates owned the Cubs taking the other four series’ 2-1 each time (for a combined 8-8 record against the Pirates).

Each of the other division opponents (Reds 7-11, Brewers 6-10, Cardinals 5-10) battered the Cubs routinely throughout the year.

We won a total of 6 series against the 4 teams that finished ahead of us in the standings. Oh, that’s out of 21 possible series. 6 of 21!

Still don’t believe me? From 2003 through 2009 the Cubs compiled annual records within the NL Central of at least .500 – remember, some of those teams were mediocre at best. But they were good enough to feast on the dregs of the NL Central. Even in 2006 when the Cubs only won 66 times, they kept a .500 record in the division (42-42).

But the last two years have been bad. In 2010, the Cubs were 34-45, this year they were 34-46. The Cubs have a long road back to respectability. It starts with winning games in their own division. Only one team that finished .500 or better this year had a losing record within their division (the Angels). And only one team that finished below .500 had a winning record within their division (the Reds).

It’s no coincidence that in the past two seasons – the worst consecutive seasons since 1999 and 2000 – the Cubs have been really bad within their own division.

  • Dusty Baylor

    Ok….so I should start drinking heavily?

  • Buddy

    It never hurts Dusty!

  • Seymour Butts

    I guess this puts numbers to the idea that teams that play poorly against their competition as a whole, have a strong tendency to play poorly against large subsets of the whole.
    This makes the answer obvious…get better.

  • There certainly appears to be a correlation, Butts. Let’s go ahead and crunch some numbers. We won 34 of 80 games against Central foes. We played 162 games. If we won all of our games at the similar win rate, we can approximate as
    34 / 80 = x / 162 –> x = (34 * 162) / 80 = 68.85
    We won 71. Off by two wins and some change. Apt deduction.

  • Jedi

    It’s true Seymour, and I think what’s so sad is that the Cubs don’t have an extremely tough division. If we could be average inside the NL Central, we’d at least having the opportunity to dream about October again.

  • Seymour Butts

    AH but Jedi, point the miss you make. In order to achieve goodness against the portion, goodness against the whole achieve you must.

  • Jedi

    2006 disagrees greatly with that notion. We won a scant 24 games out of the division that year.

    Anyhow, I’m not saying that we should just beat NL Central opponents and suck it up against everyone else. The point is, we were .500 against the NL West, and 3 games below .500 against the NL East. If we’d been even mediocre (.500) in our own division it wouldn’t have been over for the Cubs back in May.

  • Buddy

    Get your best “Buddy is an idiot” comments ready for tomorrow’s article!

  • Seymour Butts

    ..and Dick Pole was the pitching coach in 2006…Don’t be a Dick.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    The answer might be obvious, but has a team ever advanced to the playoffs with a losing record in their own division? Seems like it could be possible, but highly, highly unlikely.

  • BLPCB

    I’ve seen teams suck before, but this team was the suckist bunch of sucks that ever sucked.

  • Doc Raker

    If you stink within your division you stink everywhere. Bad baseball is bad baseball, pitching, hitting and fielding better is the answer, which is the same answer to beating the Cardinals, Brewers, Reds, Pirates, Astro’s and anyone else in the MLB.