Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fun With Splits

I'm sick of platoon splits, so let's look at Home/Road splits and see if we can't foresee how the Crew might overcome their crappy Pythagorean record mention by Asian Badger below.

Here's the home records, total home games, and home winning percentages of the Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers:

Cubs - 29-8, 37, .783
Cardinals - 23-15, 38, .605
Brewers - 21-12, 33, .636

So the Cubs are just insane at home, but the Brewers aren't bad, and, as we'll see in a minute, the Cubs might not be as good at home as these numbers indicate. If they matched these percentages for the rest of the year, they would finish at home as follows:

Cubs: 63-18
Brewers: 51-30
Cardinals: 49-32

Now lets do the same thing for the road:

Cubs: 16-18, 34, .471
Cardinals: 19-15, 34, .559
Brewers: 16-21, 37, .432

The Cardinals are shockingly good on the road, which should keep them around provided that Pujols and Wainwright don't miss too much time. If we extrapolate:

Cubs: 38-43
Cardinals: 45-36
Brewers: 35-46

For totals of:

Cubs: 101-61
Cardinals - 94-68
Brewers - 86-76

Now let's look at why these numbers are instructive, but bogus. This is instructive because it shows you that playing at home is very advantageous for certain teams. It also shows that as the split evens out over the course of the season the advantage gained by the split will even out as well. It also shows that the Cubs are still pretty awesome.

But ultimately, this is superficial. Let's look a little bit deeper. I mentioned above that the Cubs might not be as good as their home record indicates. Check this out:

Versus the NL West:

Cubs - 18-5
Cardinals - 11-9
Brewers - 8-4

The NL West is pretty bad, as only Arizona is over .500 (and only 3 games over at that). Moreover, of the Cubs' 23 games so far against the underachieving West, they have played 14 at home, going 13-1 in those contests. The Brewers have played 9 of their 12 games against the West at home. They are 7-2 in those games.

The Crew has also played many more games against the superior East, where 4/5 teams have positive Pythagorean records (Atlanta is still underperforming by about 6 wins):

Cubs: 7-4
Cardinals: 7-2
Brewers: 8-10

The Cardinals have actually been the best team against their own division.

Cubs: 18-15
Cardianls: 22-17
Brewers: 19-14

But everyone is pretty good. Here's a fun one. The Cardinals have the legendary Tony LaRussa. The Cubs have Lou Piniella and a very good bullpen. The Brewers have Ned Yost and Eric Gagne. Guess who has the best record in one-run games?

Cubs: 11-10, .524
Cardinals: 16-11, .593
Brewers: 13-6, .684

That's right, it's your Milwaukee Brewers. Of course, the cynic in me would like to point out that when we blow close games they tend to end up as non-close games. Many, many spectacular failures.

Anyway, I saved the best for last. Conventional wisdom says that the Cubbies have played an easy schedule. Conventional wisdom, in this instance, is dead on:

Record against sub-.500 teams:

Cubs: 38-17, 55 total games
Cardinals: 32-22, 54 total games
Brewers: 22-18, 40 total games

Record against above-.500 teams:

Cubs: 7-9, 16 total games
Cardinals: 10-8, 18 total games
Brewers: 14-15, 29 total games

The Cubs have played a total of 16 games against good teams, and the Brewers have already won 14 games against good teams. This will all even out in the end.

So, the Cubs are undeniably good, but they have undoubtedly benefitted from an easy schedule and a home heavy schedule. Extrapolating too much from their current numbers is, therefore, difficult. The Cubs are below .500 on the road, and below .500 against good teams. The second half of the season for them is filled with road games against good teams.

I don't think the Brewers have enough in the tank to catch them, at least without Gallardo, and the Cardinals will probably be pesky until the tend, but if you enjoy rooting against the Cubs (and I know you do) you have many Cub losses to look forward to in teh unpcoming months.

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