What are the 2011 Cubs good at?

I wanted to look over various statistics to see what the Cubs were good at. It’s a bad team, but even bad teams excel at something. Right?

Batting average is a useless statistic, but I figured if there was one thing the Cubs were good at it would be this. The Cubs .258 team average beats the NL average of .253, but Wrigley is a hitter friendly park. It’s hard to say the Cubs were good at this. Above average perhaps, but more likely just plain average.

Their team .316 OBP is below the NL average of .319. Factoring in the Cubs better than average batting average and their home park it’s safe to say they were pretty bad at getting on base in ways other than a base hit.

The Cubs have slugged .404, which bests the NL average of .391 by quite a bit. Aramis Ramirez is 14th in the NL, Carlos Pena ranks 24th and Alfonso Soriano ranks 26th. As much as we (pretty much just me) have complained about Castro’s lack of power, he ranks 37th in the NL among all qualified batters.

The Cubs wOBA ranks 8th in the NL. Their wRC+ ranks 9th so they’re not exactly good when using this metric.

The Cubs UZR ranks 12th while their DRS ranks dead last by quite a margin. In Total Zone they are just -2 so barely below average. These metrics overall show the Cubs to be pretty damn bad defensively. This isn’t shocking news.

The Cubs have turned just 117 double plays. Only the Dodgers have turned fewer (113). The Cubs are dead last in errors by a long way.

The Cubs OPS is .721, wich is better than the NL averag of .710. Their OPS+, which is adjusted for home ballpark is 96 while the NL average is 95. They’re not good, but they’re not terrible.

The Cubs have 141 home runs to the league average of 133.

I thought the Cubs would be near the top in doubles, but they’re barely better than average at 271 (average is 256).

The Cubs have 34 triples while the NL average is just 26. It’s safe to say the Cubs have been good at hitting triples.

The average NL team has stolen 98 bases. Were it not for Tony Campana, they’d rank last in the NL. The Cardinals have only 50 of them while the Cubs have 60.

They’ve been thrown out trying to steal a league low 19 times and rank 5th in NL in stolen base percentage. This is largely thanks to Tony Campana and his ridiculous speed. Campana has 22 stolen bases and only 1 time has he been thrown out. Removing those fantastic numbers lowers the Cubs percentage to below league average. Campana has made the Cubs successful in stealing bases. Starlin Castro has been quite good as well having stolen 21 and thrown out 7 times. The Castro and Campana-less Cubs have stolen just 22 bases and have been thrown out 11 times.

They’re basically league average in terms of striking out at the plate. Only the Astros have taken fewer walks while the Pirates and Astros have each been given fewer intentional walks.

The average team in the NL has been hit by a pitch 48 times. The Cubs have been hit by a pitch 58 times. That ranks 3rd behind the Nationals (62) and Reds (61).

Only the Padres (52) and Dbacks (46) have fewer sacrifice hits in the NL than the Cubs 55. League average is 66. Mike Quade isn’t too fond of giving up outs.

The Cubs have allowed 4.78 runs per game, which is only better than the Astros 4.82. The Cubs 4.42 ERA is barely better than the Astros 4.43 ERA.

The Cubs have pitched only 2 complete games. The league average is 5 and only the Brewers (1) and Padres (0) have thrown fewer.

The Cubs 5 shutouts is next to last (Reds have thrown only 4 shutouts).

League average saves is 41 and the Cubs have 40.

The Cubs have allowed 155 home runs (league average is 136) and rank 12th in the NL.

The Giants 522 walks by pitchers is only better than the Cubs 540. Cubs pitchers have struckout 1152 and league average to 1100. So there you go. The Cubs pitchers are fairly good at striking batters out.

They have the next to last ERA+, the worst WHIP, 3rd worst hits per 9 and they ranks 12th in FIP.

No team in the NL has as large a difference between their ERA and FIP than the Cubs do. Their xFIP is about average, their tERA is 3rd worst, and their SIERA is a bit better than average.

They’ve stranded the fewest runners on base, allowed the highest BABIP and walked the highest percentage of batters in the NL.

There are a bunch of other stats I could look at, but what we’ve found is that the Cubs are literally only good at two things: hitting triples, not sacrifice hitting and striking batters out. One of those is largely the result of the manager so one could argue that the players on this team, collectively, do two things well. It’s impressive when you’re that bad.


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