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.

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