Historically Awful Franchise Off To Historically Awful Start

The Cubs are already 10 games under .500 and 10 games out of 1st place in the division. They’re 8 games behind the Marlins, Brewers and Giants for the Wild Card. This team is done. The Cubs appear much more likely to battle it out for last with the Astros than come anywhere close to finishing in the top 3 in the division. They may even struggle to catch the Pirates at this point. They’re bad. Really bad.

I looked back to 1981 to see how the Cubs had done through 56 games. I chose 1981 because that’s when I started watching the Cubs. I knew this year’s version had been one of the worst I’ve seen in my life. We can talk about the reasons why all we want and some of them are legitimate (injuries), but the bottom line is that so far, this team has been terrible.

The Cubs winning percentage is .411. The only Cubs teams since 1981 who have been worse through 56 games were the teams in 1981 (.286), 1982 (.375), 2002 (.393), 2000 (.393) and 1994 (.393). The last thre were just one win worse than the Cubs. It gets worse if we look at the expected record based on runs scored and allowed.

The Cubs Pythagorean win percentage is .403. Only the teams in 1981 (.332), 2006 (.399) and 2002 (.400) have been worse. Even the terrible Cubs teams of 1982 and 2000 were better. There’s an even better win expectation percentage called PythagenPat. Rather than consider all run environments the same as Pythagorean does, it’s based on the run score environment of each individual team.

The Cubs current PythagenPat is .408. Only the teams in 1981 (.344), 2006 (.405) and 2002 (.407) have been worse. The 2000 team is interesting because only one team in this span scored more runs (2008). However, no team came even close to allowing the number of runs they did. A lot of runs were being scored in baseball at that time, but in other years close to 2000, we don’t see such extremes for any Cubs team.

The 1981 team was just ridiculously bad. They fortunately didn’t play their 56th game until mid-August thanks to the strike, but they were actually 16-40 at that point. They’d allowed nearly 100 more runs than they’d scored. Looking at this I can’t figure out why I remained a fan of this team. Couldn’t have been any fun to watch.

Another year struck me as ood, as well. The 1985 team started the year 35-21. Everybody remembers the 1984 team (at least everybody who was alive). They were expected to win the division and even the World Series the following season, but it didn’t work out. They got off to a fantastic start. They scored nearly 100 more runs than they had allowed through 56 games. Only the 2001 and 2008 teams were as good as the ’85 team. All three teams were 35-21. Like the ’85 team, the ’08 team also scored nearly 100 more runs than they had allowed. The 2001 team was a little luckier, but still very good.

The 1985 team was so good through 56 games that it’s easily the best start this team has jumped out to through this may games. Ther Pythagorean Win % was .694. The PythagenPat was .679. The next highest PythagenPat was the 2008 club at .654. The 2004 and 1984 clubs were 3rd and 4th, tied at .582. The Pythagorean was even more lopsided. Their .694 Pythag beat the 2008 club by a wide margin (.660). No other team was higher than .589. The Cubs led the Expos by 2.5 games, but would go 42-63 the rest of the way.

Only the 2000 (341 RA) and the 1994 team (293 RA) allowed more runs than the 2011 version (286). You can look at the numbers yourself. If you want. (click the link below)

Year W L RS RA Win% Pythag PythagenPat
2011 23 33 235 286 .411 .403 .408
2010 25 31 234 251 .446 .465 .467
2009 29 27 245 232 .518 .527 .525
2008 35 21 319 229 .625 .660 .654
2007 24 32 261 243 .429 .536 .534
2006 23 33 229 281 .411 .399 .405
2005 30 26 255 225 .536 .562 .558
2004 29 27 262 219 .518 .589 .582
2003 31 25 262 235 .554 .554 .551
2002 22 34 213 261 .393 .400 .407
2001 35 21 265 227 .625 .577 .572
2000 22 34 289 341 .393 .418 .418
1999 32 24 282 262 .571 .537 .535
1998 32 24 277 252 .571 .547 .545
1997 23 33 234 249 .411 .469 .471
1996 24 32 246 268 .429 .457 .460
1995 28 28 249 250 .500 .498 .498
1994 22 34 248 293 .393 .417 .421
1993 28 28 239 247 .500 .484 .485
1992 25 31 194 214 .446 .451 .457
1991 28 28 227 240 .500 .472 .474
1990 24 32 243 269 .429 .449 .452
1989 32 24 229 202 .571 .562 .556
1988 28 28 243 234 .500 .519 .517
1987 32 24 281 246 .571 .566 .563
1986 23 33 246 268 .411 .457 .460
1985 35 21 277 184 .625 .694 .679
1984 32 24 272 228 .571 .587 .582
1983 26 30 232 233 .464 .498 .498
1982 21 35 213 248 .375 .425 .431
1981 16 40 196 278 .286 .332 .344

I might look at this after June is over. If the Cubs perform as poorly as I think we expect the to this month, they probably move further down the list of shitty Cubs teams since 1981.

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