Monday, 4 June 2007

Bold Prediction: the Chicago Cubs will win the NL Central

I'm all about bold and rash predictions on this site, which makes this perfect.

Yes, the Chicago Cubs are having their share of problems right now. The manager is imploding, they're 2-12 in 1-run games, they're 7 games under .500, and they're 6.5 games behind the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers.

But still, I think they'll win the NL Central. For a few reasons:

- The division sucks. Milwaukee is the only decent team in that division, and they have started to struggle now that they are playing teams outside the division. The Brewers have been playing very well, but their record is a little better than the run differential suggests it should be, and that's with great performances from JJ Hardy (who simply can't keep up this pace), and Francisco Cordero, who has been basically superhuman so far.

- The Cubs are playing a lot better than their record would indicate. Their record is only 24-31, but they have outscored their opponents by 20 runs, suggesting that they should be 30-25. They've had some bad luck, as being 2-12 in 1-run games is just not something that tends to stay consistent over the course of the season. As long starts to deviate back towards the mean the record will improve.

- Carlos Zambrano has been horrible. He's a little overrated, but he's a lot better than a 5.62 ERA, which is what he is at right now. The BB rate is normal, but the HR rate is a little high and the K rate is a little low. These are problems that he has to fix, but his track record suggests he can and that should keep the ERA dropping. Of course, maybe this is offset some by the fact that Jason Marquis is playing out of his mind, but we'll see.

So anyway, as of now, I'll take the Cubs to win the NL Central. They're not playing particularly well at 24-31, 6.5 games back, but I think they'll have enough to come back and overtake the Brew Crew.

Your thoughts? Am I way off base here?