The Chicago Cubs are 5-5 in their first ten games. There are 152 games left yet there is already a lot of frustration. While it is understandable to be disappointed, there are some things to put into perspective.
Wrigley Field was not friendly for the home team Tuesday afternoon. The visiting Pittsburgh Pirates, a team off to an 8-2 start, came in and defeated the Chicago Cubs 8-5. Now their record sits at 5-5. People know on paper this is much better than a .500 team, and situational hitting has been very poor so far, but it is only early April.
Do the Cubs want to dig themselves a hole? Absolutely not. They will want to improve their shaky defense and situational hitting sooner than later, but a 5-5 record on April 10 is not the end of days. Standards are set so high that 5-5 may feel much worse than it is.
Minds of Cubs fans can naturally revert to the 2016 season. The team that won it all and had a 103-win regular season. It was joy from the start with the way they stormed out of the gates in May and April. Though it may not be a great idea to always think about that season and compare it to now.
2016 was a historical year that is almost impossible to repeat.
On paper the Cubs may match or even be better than 2016, but that team played such flawless baseball for much of the year. Even some of the best teams of our era on paper would have trouble with keeping up with what the 2016 Chicago Cubs did.
A few stats and facts to consider.
In 2016, the Cubs began their first two months of the season (April and May) with a 35-15 record. That included a 17-5 April and 18-10 May, adding up to a .700 winning percentage. Those 35 wins accounted for 34 percent of their 103 total regular season wins.
The pitching staff totaled a 2.93 ERA in that span while the offense scored 275 runs. During those first two months the Cubs put up a +128 run-differential, including a +79 in April alone. There are no monthly advanced stats available, but according to FanGraphs, the team that season totaled 95 defensive runs saved and a 47.1 UZR. Keep in mind the next closest team in DRS that year was the Astros with 59.
Those are some ridiculous numbers. Playing .700 ball in the first two months is incredibly hard to do. Even they could not sustain it for 162 games when they had that real rough patch from late-June to the All Star break.
Hard to tamper expectations, but lets do that.
After that magical 2016 season we expect what we saw that year. Truth of the matter is, nothing will happen quite like that. The Cubs will still be good and should win 90+ games and a division title, but a 35-15 start? Probably won’t see that by a Cubs team again for a long time, even if they contend for a number of years down the road.
There are some things the Cubs have to improve on, but the team has a core that has been to three-straight NLCS and won a World Series. Things will heat up. It makes it a bit more irritating that the Cubs went 2-3 against the Marlins and Reds, but they have plenty of time to make up for that.
Next: A long-term injury to Rizzo could be a major issue
Do not forget the Cubs played .500 ball most of the first half in 2017 and still won the division. A situation they would rather not be in again, but it shows how long the season is.