Before I get into these numbers, I should point out that none of these are official Cubs team records.
Rather, they are the best marks put up by Cubs players during any 60-game stretch in a single season during their Cubs careers. These numbers are all since 1901, and hat tip to Cubs historian Ed Hartig for the numbers.
Hits: 101, Kiki Cuyler (1930)
1930 was an offensive onslaught of a season. The entire National League hit .303 (!), and that included pitchers. Three Cubs (Cuyler, 228, Woody English, 214 and Hack Wilson, 208) had over 200 hits that year. 101 hits in 60 games is 1.68 hits per game.
Kris Bryant led the Cubs with 153 hits in 2019 and the last Cub to have a 200-hit season was Starlin Castro in 2011.
It’s pretty safe to say that no Cub (nor, probably anyone else) will have 101 hits in the 60-game season.
Doubles: 33, Mark Grace (1995)
Grace’s 51 doubles in 1995 ranks third in franchise history for a single season — and that was in a strike-shortened 144-game season. He had an outside shot at 60 if it had been a full season.
An interesting recent comparison is Nick Castellanos’ 21 doubles in 51 games for the Cubs last year. That equates to 25 doubles in 60 games. That’s not 33, but it’s possible some Cub could hit 30 doubles in this year’s 60 games. Javier Baez led the Cubs with 38 doubles last year, and the last Cub to hit 50 was Derrek Lee in 2005.
Home runs: 32, Sammy Sosa (1998)
It’s pretty safe to say no Cub — and probably no MLB player — is going to hit anywhere near 32 home runs in the 60-game season. Since Sosa’s 49 in 2002, only one Cub (D-Lee, 46 in 2005) has even hit 40 in a full season. Kyle Schwarber hit 38 last year to lead the team. No Cub is going to approach Sammy’s mark.
I’d be surprised if anyone hit much more than 20 home runs in the 60-game season.
RBI: 92, Hack Wilson (1930)
Again, the 1930 season pops up, and that’s the year Wilson set the MLB record with 191, a record that likely stands forever (no one’s gotten to within 26 of it since 1938).
Other than Sosa’s four biggest RBI years, just one Cub other than Wilson has even 140 RBI in a season — Ernie Banks in 1959.
I’d be stunned if any Cub — or any MLB player — could even get to 60 RBI this year.
Walks: 66, Jimmy Sheckard (1911)
Sheckard set the franchise record for walks that year, with 147. He walked 122 times the next year, and the only Cubs who have come anywhere close to that since are Richie Ashburn (1960) and Sammy Sosa (2001) with 116.
Recent Cubs high walk totals belong to Ben Zobrist (96 in 2016) and Kris Bryant (95 in 2017). That’d be about 36 walks in a 60-game season. If any Cub gets to 40, that’d be an accomplishment.
HBP: 14, Anthony Rizzo (2015)
At last, a current player. Rizzo set the franchise record for HBP that year (30) and he now has the top three and four of the top five single seasons in Cubs history.
He led the major leagues with 27 last year. 14 would be a lot in a 60-game season, but it’s not impossible.
Rizzo is currently tied for 24th all-time with 145 career HBP, and last year he set the franchise record, now 141. If he gets hit 14 times this year, he’d move up to 19th.
Games pitched: 36, Ted Abernathy (1965) and Bob Howry (2006)
Abernathy and Howry (along with Dick Tidrow, 1980) hold the franchise record for games pitched in a full season, 84. In the first two cases, Abernathy and Tidrow, they led the major leagues in games pitched.
What do those three seasons have in common? Right, the Cubs were bad in all three years, losing more than 90 games each time. Thus, more appearances by relievers. Abernathy, in particular, had a great year in ‘65. He posted 3.2 bWAR, a high number for a reliever, and set the MLB record for saves (31), though that stat was unofficial until 1969.
With extra relievers likely to be carried by the Cubs, it seems unlikely that any of the 2020 relievers will appear 36 times in 60 games. But you never know.
Games started: 19, Tom Hughes (1901)
The most games any pitcher is likely to start in the 60-game season, for any team, is 12.
Complete games: 18, Jack Taylor (1903)
Well, this is a good story, anyway. Taylor actually completed 187 consecutive starts between 1901 and 1906 (as well as making 15 relief appearances during that time). That, obviously, is a MLB record that will stand forever.
The Cubs, as a team, have 18 complete games by pitchers since May 27, 2013.
Wins: 15, Mordecai Brown (1910)
Saves: 26, Rod Beck (1998)
Well now, this one’s interesting. Beck saved 51 games in 1998 (and didn’t lead the league, either; Trevor Hoffman did with 53).
The 60-game stretch in question ran from July 1 through September 5, team games 83 through 142. Beck appeared in 31 games in that span, finished 29 of them and had 26 saves in 28 opportunities. In those 31 appearances Beck posted a 2.12 ERA and 1.247 WHIP in 29⅔ innings, with nine walks and 33 strikeouts.
The Cubs went 37-23 in those 60 games. If the 2020 Cubs do that, they’re probably N.L. Central champions — and if that happens, sure, I could see Craig Kimbrel posting 26 saves.
ERA: 0.30, Guy Bush (1926)
This is based on a minimum of 60 innings pitched, which is what a pitcher would need in order to qualify for this year’s ERA title.
The span for Bush included six starts and five relief appearances from July 24 through September 2, 1926. He threw two CG shutouts in that span, which included 61 innings in which he allowed 33 hits and 11 walks (0.721 WHIP) and two earned runs. Opposing hitters hit .160/.202/.180 against him during that time.
Jake Arrieta came very, very close to that during his great 2015 run. Over his last 11 starts, Jake posted an ERA of 0.44 and a WHIP of 0.615. He walked 11 and struck out 84 in 81⅓ innings.
In 1988, Orel Hershiser set the MLB record of 59 consecutive scoreless innings pitched. He threw 55 innings in September without allowing a run at all. That, of course, is the extreme outlier, something that will probably never happen again.
So... it’d take a remarkable stretch of pitching to do it, but it’s not impossible that some pitcher could put together a 60-game ERA under 1.00. Yu Darvish was outstanding in the second half of 2019, but his ERA for that span was still over 2.00.
Most of these “records,” then, will likely not be broken during this short 60-game season, if we get that far.
But in the famous words of Joaquin Andujar... youneverknow.