Yesterday, we looked at an overview of how a team's April record projects out the rest of their season. If you missed it, click here for more of the pretext for this five-part series (there's also a StoryStream which will contain the entire series).
In many corners of the National League, runs can be hard to come by in April. Chillier April weather is often a staple in Chicago. The same is often true in many of the places the Cubs frequent. The cooler weather puts a damper on offense, as the ball often won't carry as much.
So let's look at how the NL playoff teams and the Cubs have fared in April runs scored the last three years (runs scored, NL rank out of 15 the last two years and out of 16 in 2012, run differential):
2014:Washington Nationals (126, 3rd, +18), Los Angeles Dodgers (121, 4th, +11), San Francisco Giants (120, 5th, +18), St. Louis Cardinals (105, 11th, +14), Pittsburgh Pirates (102, 12th, -13), Chicago Cubs (99, 13th, -9)
2013: Cincinnati Reds (128, 2nd, +22), St. Louis (121, 6th, +26), Pittsburgh (116, 8th, +2), Atlanta Braves (114, 9th +29), Cubs (98, 14th, -15), Los Angeles (91, 14th, -24).
2012: St. Louis (123, 1st, +56), Atlanta (118, 3rd, +19), San Francisco (91, 9th, +2), Cincinnati (87, 10th, -3), Cubs (82, 11th, -21), Washington (75, 14th, +11)
So what's the takeaway? For the playoff teams, runs scored hasn't been much of a predictor. But most teams have maintained a positive run differential. Meanwhile, the Cubs have scuffled to score in April, always ranking near the bottom in runs scored.
While runs scored hasn't been a strong predictor of record, I think it's really important for the Cubs to get off to a decent start with the sticks. The offense will be very, very young. Many of these young hitters have little experience with cold weather. And with limited big league experience, scuffling to score early could lead to the youngsters pressing.
They don't need to bomb the scoreboard (though, naturally, that'd be nice). But I'd sure like to see the club get off to a middle-of-the-pack performance or better with the bats. How do you think we'll hit in the early going? Leave your comments and we'll talk tomorrow about pitching.