Fun with Numbers: Find Out How Good the Cubs Were Against the Angels

The Cubs swept the Angels to start the 2016 season. That’s a really nice way to get things started for many obvious reasons. I mean, every one likes it when there team wins. So, I thought it’d be fun to take a look and see what the numbers tell us about this series. We broke  the numbers down for the first game against the Angels, and that too was fun.

Before we get started, I do want to touch on sample sizes. For this exercise, we’re not looking at how individual Cubs’ players performed and saying that is how they will perform all year. We’re simply looking at how they performed in this series and how that contributed to winning or losing (in this case winning). So, for purposes of this exercise, the only thing that matters is what happened in this series and therefore the statistics from the series against the Angels represent the entire population. So, technically, it’s a perfect sample size. Ok, that’s my disclaimer.

Let’s start with the offense:

  • The Cubs produced fifteen runs over the two game series. They had a combined twenty hits. That’s 1.33 hits per run (HPR), which is outstanding production. To put that into perspective, the Cubs had 1.94 hits per run last year, which was eighth in the majors. The average among all major league teams usually lies around 2 HPR. Since 1990, the team with the lowest HPR over an entire season were the 2000 Oakland A’s with 1.585 HPR. The best a Cubs team has performed is 1.798 by the 1996 and 1998 teams. HPR doesn’t necessarily correlate with winning, rather it just shows how efficient a team’s hitting is.
  • Here are the offensive stats for each Cubs player for both games combined:
Dexter Fowler 8 5 4 2 1 2 3 .625 .667
Jason Heyward 9 1 0 1 0 2 5 .111 .111
Kris Bryant 7 0 2 1 2 3 4 .000 .222
Anthony Rizzo 7 2 2 3 2 1 2 .286 .444
Ben Zobrist 9 4 1 0 0 2 5 .444 .444
Jorge Soler 8 1 1 1 1 3 3 .125 .222
Addison Russell 7 0 0 0 1 3 3 .000 .125
Matt Szczur 5 3 2 4 0 1 0 .600 .600
David Ross 4 2 2 0 0 0 1 .500 .500
Miguel Montero 5 2 1 3 0 2 2 .400 .400
Kyle Schwarber 4 0 0 0 0 2 4 .000 .000
Team Totals 73 20 15 15 7 21 32 .274 .338
  • So who’s your series MVP? I’d say that it has to be Dexter Fowler. I mean, we didn’t really need a table to tell us that, right? Second is Matt Szczur, who showed some nice power which I’m hoping continues (as long as he keeps getting ABs). Third is Anthony Rizzo. He and Zobrist had the same OBP – Ben actually had a higher AVG – but Anthony was better in every other category. Fourth and fifth were Montero and Ross. Not who you’d expect to be in the conversation but the Cubs catchers really performed well in this series.
  • What’s really interesting is that even though the Cubs had a great HPR ratio, scored fifteen runs in two games (which anyone would say was a lot), the guys who contributed, with the exception of Rizzo, aren’t the top batters on the team. Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Addison Russell all really under-performed in this series. And yet, the Cubs dominated offensively. Wow! Just let that settle in for a minute. Now, think about what it would’ve looked like had those guys been hitting. This is going to be a very high scoring team

Enough about offense, let’s check out the pitching:

  • Cubs starters dominated the Angels hitters. Both Arrieta and Lester pitched 7 complete innings. Combined they surrendered one run on six hits, one walk and ten strikeouts. Their BABIP (batting average on balls in play) were .125 and .190, respectively. If anyone was worried about either of these guys I’d say we’re good. Jake goes again on Sunday against the Diamondbacks.
  • Mike Trout and Albert Pujols did absolutely nothing against the Cubs. They combined to go 0 for 15 with no walks and five strikeouts. Damn, our pitching is good!
  • The bullpen guys were just as good as the starters. Justin Grimm, Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill and Pedro Strop all pitched in this series. Combined they pitched four innings and gave up one measly hit, and no walks, while registering three strikeouts. Wow, again!

The Cubs overall performance in this series was really as close to perfect baseball as you can probably get. I know the Angels aren’t that bad of a team, so the only conclusion is that the Cubs are really, very good. The numbers we discussed above are really just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll delve into more numbers and statistics as the season continues.


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