On this final day of August, with the Cubs on a 32-12 roll since July 10, I thought it would be fun to take a look at various paces and milestones the team, and some individual players, could reach for this season.
At 84-47 the Cubs are playing at a .641 clip, which would equate to 104 wins for the full season. That would make 2016 the Cubs' first 100-win season since 1935 and the most wins for the team since 1910. That year’s 104 wins is tied (with 1909) for third-most in franchise history.
The team is 37 games over .500, matching the season high. The last time any Cubs team was more than 37 games over .500 was the last day of the 1945 season, when they finished 98-56, 42 games over.
The Cubs are 47-19 at Wrigley Field going into Wednesday night's game against the Pirates. That’s a .712 winning percentage, which would be good for 58 wins at home. The club record for wins at Wrigley in a season is 55, set in 2008. The franchise record for home wins in any season is 58, set in 1910. If you’re really feeling ambitious for this year’s team, just 12 teams in major-league history have won 60 games or more at home in a season. It was last accomplished by the 1998 Yankees, who went 62-19. The Cubs would have to go 13-2 in the remaining 15 home games to get to 60. That’s a tall order, but in their last 15 home games the Cubs have gone... 13-2.
The Cubs have scored 666 (!) runs through Tuesday’s game, 5.08 per game. That ranks third in MLB behind the Red Sox (716) and Rockies (694). At 5.08 runs per game they’re on pace for 824 runs, which would be the most since 2008 (855) and just the second time any Cubs team would have 800 or more runs since 1937 (1970, 806).
The Cubs have allowed 445 runs through Tuesday’s game, 3.4 per game. That would equate to 550 runs allowed this year, which would be the fewest runs allowed by any Cubs team since the 162-game schedule went into effect in 1962 (except for labor dispute-shortened seasons). In that 162-game schedule era, only 35 teams have allowed 550 or fewer runs, only three (2011 Phillies, 2013 Braves, 2015 Cardinals) since 1989, and 13 of those 35 teams accomplished that in 1968, the Year of the Pitcher.
If they do get to those runs-scored and runs-allowed figures, the final team run differential would be +274, the second-highest in team history (record: +323, set in 1906).
I’ve kept a walk watch for much of this year, although the walking pace has slowed recently. The Cubs have 531 walks through 131 games, an average of 4.05 per game. That’s a pace for 657, still just enough to break the team record of 650 (set in 1975) if they can keep it up.
If the Cubs win Wednesday’s game, they’ll go 22-6 for August, which would tie the best August in team history (1932).
The Cubs’ current 14-game lead is the largest for any Cubs team in the divisional-play era, since 1969. The last time any Cubs team had a lead larger than that was in 1929, when they led the National League by 14½ games on September 15. They eventually won the pennant that year by 10½ games. To find a lead larger than that you have to go back to 1907, when they led the N.L. by 18 games on October 4, eventually winning that year by 17. The biggest lead in franchise history is 20 games, set on the last day of the 1906 season. (Imagine being the second-place Giants that year; they finished 40 games over .500 at 96-56, and wound up 20 games out of first place!)
Kris Bryant is currently on pace for 43 home runs, 110 RBI and 135 runs. The runs total would be the highest for any Cub since Sammy Sosa in 2001 (146). Kris is currently at 6.8 bWAR. If he can get to 8.0, that would rank 10th in Cubs history for a single season.
Anthony Rizzo is on pace for 32 home runs and 115 RBI. If he gets to 30 or more homers, it would be his third consecutive 30-HR season. The last Cub to do that was Sosa, who had 30+ homers 10 straight years, 1995-2004.
The last time a Cubs team had two players with 30 or more homers was in 2005, when Derrek Lee (46) and Aramis Ramirez (31) did it.
Addison Russell is on pace for 104 RBI. The last time the Cubs had three 100-RBI men in the same season was 1970: Billy Williams (129), Jim Hickman (115) and Ron Santo (114).
Not that individual pitcher wins mean much anymore, but four Cubs starters are on pace for 15+ wins. The last time any Cubs team had four 15-game winners was 1935: Bill Lee (20), Lon Warneke (20), Larry French (17) and Charlie Root (15).
Finally, Cy Young candidate Kyle Hendricks has a 2.09 season ERA. Jake Arrieta (1.77 last year) and Warneke (2.00 in 1933) are the only qualified Cubs pitchers who had ERAs lower than that for a full season since 1920.
It’s a remarkable year. The numbers, and potential postseason honors, keep piling up. In the end, of course, these are just side benefits to what we hope is the ultimate goal: a World Series championship.