Quantifying Hope: May the Fourth be with You

It’s May 4th, which means your social media timelines are probably filled with goofy Star Wars memes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just that I figured you might be in the mood for a little something different. As such, I’ve got a special edition of Quantifying Hope with some stats and trivia. Nothing heavy, just a little fun on what looks to be a gray and rainy Hump Day.

I’m guessing you’re aware by now that the Cubs are pretty good and that they’ve been putting up a lot of runs on their opponents. After hanging 7-2 and 7-1 wins on the Pirates Monday and Tuesday, the Cubs’ record now stands at 19-6 and they’ve compiled a run differential of +89. In case you need a little historical context to see just how good that really is, take a look at the results as of this date from the last 18 years and also the 1969 season.


A lot of things can change between now and the end of the season, but the Cubs’ end-of-season run differentials were +41 in ’03, +109 in ’69, +124 in ’04, and +184 in ’08. And last year’s 97-win season saw the Cubs outscore their opponents by only 81 runs. But what about how this year’s team stacks up again the rest of the league?


Huh, there you go. Can’t really turn this into some kind of predictive stat, but I think we can say after 25 games that it’s more than just a passing trend. Speaking of performances that are not passing fancies, Jake Arrieta great again. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried when Arrieta walked John Jaso and Andrew McCutchen to open the game after walking four batters in each of his two previous starts.

All he did after that was pitch 7 innings of two-hit baseball without issuing another free pass or allowing a run. So much for worrying, huh? Pitcher wins are far from a reliable measure of worth, but when you’re 6-0 you’re probably doing something right. Arrieta’s mark makes him the first Cubs pitcher to start a season 6-0 since a guy named Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown back in 1908. I’m pretty sure there was something significant about that season, though the specifics escape me.

Interestingly enough, the only other pitcher in the Majors with an equivalent record is Chris Sale. So that’s cool.

Even if the Cubs drop the final game of the series with the Pirates, they’ll have a 12-3 record against NL Central opponents despite playing only five division games at home. Long way to go and all that jazz, but I like the idea of seeing the Cubs run away and hide from the Pirates and Cards.

That’s all for now, but be sure to join us later this week when QH takes a look at the updated playoff odds.

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