Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cubs starters could make history

A pretty big statistical irregularity could be on the horizon for the Cubs. Though wins are a relatively useless stat to gauge a pitcher's true performance (see Randy Wells), the Cubs are in striking distance of having 5 pitchers with 10 or more wins. Wells (10) and Lilly (11) are already there, and Dempster (9), Harden (9), and Z (8) will most likely reach double digit wins before the season is over.

How valuable really is a 10-12 win pitcher? Not terribly, but consider this: from what I have found (and I may have overlooked a year) no Cubs team has had 5 pitchers with 10 wins or more since 1993, but more on that team later. Before that, no team but the 1969 one, when Fergie Jenkins, Bill Hands (162 ERA+ holy crap!), Ken Holtzman, Dick Selma and reliever Dick Regan, accomplished the feat. Now everyone knows what happened to that team, but they won 93 games and were probably the best Cub team ever.

The playoff team of 1984 had 4 pitchers with 10+, and had Scott Sanderson won two more (his ERA was 3.14 so not his fault it appears) and Lee Smith won one more, they would have had 6 pitchers on the list. 1989's playoff team had 4 guys total, and 3 above 16 wins (Sutcliffe, Maddux, Bielecki).

A host of more recent Cub teams has just missed the feat by registering 4 pitchers with 10+ wins. These teams include the ones in 2001, 2003, 2007, and 2008. Obviously all those teams made the playoffs except the 2001 team (which was pretty decent winning 88 games). Interesting side note: Jason Bere and Julian Tavarez won over 10 games each for the 2001 Cubs, geez.

What do all of these teams have in common? They were all good, playoff-worthy teams. The ones in '69, '84, '89, and '03 seemed perfectly capable of actually achieving the impossible and winning the World Series. However, it seems to me a stastical anamoly that mediocre teams like this current one (potentially) and the 84 win 1993 team have had more double digit winners than some much better Cub teams.

Just for fun here are the names from the 1993 team: Mike Morgan, Jose Guzman, Mike Harkey, Greg Hibbard and Jose Bautista. What separates this current Cub staff from the 1993 one is that, just like getting the wins to begin with, they have a very good chance to all have sub-4.00 ERA's. Ted (3.17) and Wells (2.84) are well under the mark, Z (3.80) seems to be improving, and Harden (4.10) I would imagine will get under by the end of the year. Dempster (4.03) is the one that concerns me, but with the all the weak competition, he could very well get there too.

What does this all mean? Probably nothing, but if anything I think it just highlights even more so the failings of the offense (sans D-Lee) and Kevin Gregg this season.

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