Will the 2022 Cubs surpass the 2012 team’s 101 losses?
Only one Chicago Cubs team has lost 100+ games since 1962, the 2012 squad a decade ago. The 2012 season was an intentionally lousy year as part of Theo Epstein’s extensive rebuild plan. Their tanking efforts got them Kris Bryant in the 2013 MLB Draft and they won a World Series four years later. It would have been hard to imagine for Cubs fans that they would see another season like 2012 in the near future after winning it all so recently, but here we are.
A decade later and the team enters the All-Star Break with a .380 winning percentage. Right now FanGraphs has the Cubs projected to finish 67-95, not quite the century mark but this is just a projection.
Can the 2022 Cubs match – or exceed – the 2012 Cubs loss mark?
Entering July 17, 2012 the Cubs sat at a 36-52 record in 88 games played with a -57 run differential. The 2022 Cubs closed out the first half with a 35-57 record in 91 games played with a -86 run differential. Pretty dang similar in terms of win-loss records. The 2012 team gave up fewer runs to this point (389) than the current squad (472), but the 2012 team scored less (332 vs. 386). None of this should be that big of a surprise. This current team has more starting position players with a .800+ OPS, while the 2012 pre-deadline team had a better pitching rotation.
A good reminder that the 2012 Cubs pre-deadline had Ryan Dempster pitching to a 2.25 ERA, 3.43 FIP and 1.04 WHIP in 16 starts, with Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and Paul Maholm pitching to sub-4.00 ERAs. It was not a great staff overall in 2012 by any means, but they clearly had a more efficient starting staff than the current one (and healthier too).
Some stats that are kind of surprising is the defensive metrics. Per FanGraphs, the 2012 Cubs finished the year with a -8 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and the current team is all the way down at -17.5 DRS with 70 games left. It is no surprise the current team’s defensive metrics are poor, but that 2012’s was not that horrible for a 101-loss team. In fact, the 2012 team’s UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) was the fourth-best in baseball at 29.3. Guess it helped to have Gold Glove winner Darwin Barney on the team.
The real question is how this season finishes. We know they are going to sell some guys at the deadline, most notably three-time All-Star catcher Willson Contreras. What this franchise has now that it did not have in 2012 is more talent in the system. While we will not see top prospects like Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brennen Davis, Kevin Alcantara, Owen Caissie etc. make their debuts later in the year, we can see other guys in the system get time as we have seen with Christopher Morel and Nelson Velázquez.
We also will continue to watch the likes of Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele on the mound. After the 2012 trade deadline, they had just random arms trying to fill in spots (kind of like last year) but now we could see a few more intriguing future pieces.
I cannot say in terms of wins and losses this team will end up being “better” than the 2012 team. It is very possible they lose 100 games this year, but it will probably be a tad more intriguing than the 2012 second half in a while. Anthony Rizzo was huge to watch in 2012, but outside of him, Starlin Castro and Samardzija, there wasn’t much outside random guys and aging veterans on their last leg i.e. Alfonso Soriano.
We already have Seiya Suzuki, Ian Happ (if not traded), Christopher Morel, Velazquez, Steele, Thompson and possibly others. One thing is for sure the farm will definitely be miles better to watch now.