Chicago Cubs: What run differential tells us about trends of success

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

Arguing against run differential

For every statistic based on logic, there is a counterpoint to its overall effectiveness. In Major League Baseball some teams have a negative run differential total, yet still, find themselves at a winning record. Also, some teams who possess a negative record somehow have a positive differential.

The National League West is a perfect example of this. The Colorado Rockies currently sit at 22-19, good for second in their division. They have a -20 run differential. The Los Angeles Dodgers, for example, are 16-24 and 5 1/2 games behind the Rockies and have a -1 differential.

In this case, the Rockies record should be 19-22, meaning they are still playing above their projections, despite such a porous run differential. It is understood though because the Rockies have not only been involved in many high-scoring affairs this season so far, they have lost a couple of times spectacularly, creating that skewed number. It is an argument against basing run differential on a team’s overall success.

The difference here, in comparing the Cubs with the Rockies, is that the Cubs have just four more wins than the Rockies, however there is a +74 run differential in the Cubs favor comparing the two teams. The Cubs, in theory, should have seven more wins, comparatively. Once again, another argument against using run differential as a measuring stick.