For NL Central, These Are the Best of Times

As you may have noticed, the top three teams in the NL Central, the Cubs (48-29, .623), Cards (45-33, .577), and Brewers (43-34, .558), also currently have the three best records in the National League. Who'da thunk?

Here is how the Big 3 rank against the rest of the NL in various categories.

First, hitting:

Cubs 1 4 1 1 2 1 9 6 2
Cards 5 10 3 2 6 4 12 15 1
Brewers 8 3 12 10 4 6 7 5 11

*Ranked in descending order of striketouts, i.e., Cards have the second fewest batting strikeouts in NL.

Gotta love where the Cubs sit in OBP, and, it goes without saying, runs scored. It's so un-Cublike.


Next, pitching ("S/ERA" is starters' ERA, "R/ERA" is relievers' ERA, QS is Quality Starts):

Cubs  1 1 4 1 4 7 5 2
Cards  6 3 13 10 7 5 10 6
Brewers  7 6 12 7 10 3 12 9

Interestingly, the Cubs are just fourth overall in the NL in strikeouts, a category they have dominated in recent years.

And here, a few fielding numbers (Fielding Percentage, Caught Stealing Percentage, Defensive Efficiency Ratio):

Cubs 12 5 3
Cards 2 3 1
Brewers 9 2 5


One last quick note (lunch hour is over): In games decided by three or more runs—an area which I think receives far too little notice especially versus the team's record in one-run games, which are often decided on a single play or two, maybe even a chance bad bounce—the Brewers are 19-21, the Cards are 23-16, and the Cubs are 27-8.


God forbid for the first time in my lifetime, they have a kick ass team with an awesome record and they can't run away with the division!!


Please just once!!

Vitters continues his hot streak going 3-for-6 with 2 doubles in Boise’s 7-4 win over Everett. He's now raised his average to .345.

Tito — February 7, 2008 @ 2:25 pm
Don’t forget, The Real Neal says there’s a good possibility that Dempster will be the Cubs’ best SP this year. So, it’s, like, a lock.

you were on the dumpster's side for starting?

damn...for a year+ it felt like i was the only person who liked it.

after all the back/forth i know the fears/concerns, but damn...not like he was some ace closer and he keeps the ball insanely in the park.

I also said that Dempster was due to have a good year ... by my prediction was that it wouldn't happen again until 2010.


i know there were others that thought it was a good idea. i just lost track of who and when and etc.

guy keeps the ball in the park...he wasn't an elite or irreplacable closer...he threw without velocity issues with regular workload without showing stress (though SOMETHING was really screwed up last Sept.).

i totally understand the concerns about his pitch counts, workload, etc...i just think the positives (and team need) outweighs not taking that chance. glad its working out so far even if its at a level that's beyond what everyone thought was probable. hope he keeps it up. hope he's sharp in sept/oct, too. guess we'll find out.

Congrats, Real Ne-al, and I'm glad you came back to gloat. I still think Big Z is their best pitcher, but I'm happy to admit that I did not expect Dempster to do this well.

If someone made a prediction that Dempster could be the Cubs best pitcher this year, they damn well have the right to gloat.

I thought people were way too hard on Dempster as a closer, but I never thought he would be anything other than a very mediocre starter. Anyone predicting anything close to this can go ahead and pat themselves on the back (just be prepared to be roasted if he has a Marquis-like 2nd half.)

absolutely, but it's important to note that previously when he was a starter he didn't have that splitter which is now his #1 pitch. He used to throw a ton of curveballs and his curve wasn't even a plus pitch for him. He ditched the curve and now he's essentially a FB, slider, splitter pitcher and he's done a fantastic job (if indeed it's intentional) of mixing speeds on his fastball. He was reaching back and hitting 94 a few times Sunday along with his usual 89-92. It also didn't hurt to have Maddux around for a couple years to learn from either. He's credited Maddog quite a few times in interviews I've read this year.

he didnt have "that splitter"?

ton of curve balls?

New article up on ESPN about Baseball's Best Duos so far - Cubs are all over it.

from that article...(emphasis mine)

It's easy to take Marmol for granted when he's sucking up outs in the seventh and eighth every night. He's averaging 12.80 strikeouts per nine innings, and he's been borderline flawless with the exception of ERA-wrecking flare-ups against San Diego, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.


quick look using the BR PI index and 12.8 K/9 is good for 22nd all-time with at least 40 appearances in a season. The top 25 are all after 1989 and all specialized relievers.

Yeah, no wonder they're all specialized relievers since I set the target at 40..duh. Let's try this...

That's K/9 over 10 and at least 30 games with 90% of them as a starter

Randy Johnson had a 13.41 K/9 in 2001
Pedro 13.20 in 1999
then Johnson again for 6 more seasons...

39 players total fit that criteria including Kerry and Prior, both in 2003

As someone here pointed out not too long enough, a quick glance at Demp's BABIP suggests he can't keep up this pace forever.

It's .247, one of the best in the majors along with other early-season surprises like Gavin Floyd, Shaun Marcum, Justin Duchsherer, Joe Saunders, Scott Olsen and surprisingly Cole Hamels.

I was really surprised to see that we had the #1 starter's ERA in the National League. Then I noticed that Marquis has it all the way down to 4.43. And Lilly's got it down to 4.71. Gallagher's tossing up a 3.92.

I guess our rotation has suddenly turned it on in the last 3 weeks.

I was surprised too, & thats why I'm not so sure we need to focus attention on trading for another starter.

Its a shame that besides Zeus and Wood, everybody else in the pen seems really schizophrenic, wasting some very nice starts, as well as offence.

I know that you're not supposed to trade for relievers, but I sure would like a bit more consistency.


Birthday Boy (Aram turns 28 today)
The Venuzulan Corey Patterson (Lou must really hate gingers)

(Also Burres has the flu and Albers will make the start, so the VCP will most likely be on the bench)



"Birthday Boy (Aram turns 28 today)"

He's 30.

In his first 4 full Cubs seasons (2004-2007), he has never hit below .291, and has averaged over 30HR and less than 65K per year.

His K's are up surprisingly this year (49 already), but so are his BBs (his OBP is over .400 for the first time), and he is on pace for another .290+ and 30+ HR year.

A hearty "thanks!" to Jim Hendry and the Pirates for this cornerstone to what has been the most consistently competitive Cubs team I can remember -- since his arrival in 2003: two playoff appearances and one near miss in 5 years, and a great first half of 2008.

Enjoy him, becasue we will miss him when he is gone.

Well he is hitting so good maybe he found the Fountain of Youth with one of his latest swings. Yes he is a child of 78 and not 80.

lol ... "Tejada math".

Strange Lineup... After K-Fuk bats first, that's five righties in a row, followed by four lefties in a row...

if i remember right back in april on a couple of
posts i stated that dempster would be our
2nd best pitcher and win 15 games.

C'mon. The game's not 15 minutes old and the Cards already out to a 2-0 lead (HRs by "Shoe Maker" and "Ankle").

"I know that you're not supposed to trade for relievers..."

I don't think Hendry will go that route, primarily because of the amount of money that's already tied up with two of the middle - relief veterans in the pen. They certainly haven't performed up to expectations, considering the resources expended on them. Shades of Veres and Remlinger in '03.

Recent comments

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  • I should be able to watch the game on the NFL replay app, whatever that thing is called. I've got it on my iPad. This is the first year I haven't forced myself to somehow watch every game - no I take that back, last year was - in quite some time. Last year was so unbearable, no pun intended.

    You make some good points about Cutler, and I was a holdout defender of Cutler for a long time. I gave up on him a bit after one too many dumb interceptions, but last year doesn't count. Trestman was the worst coach in Bears history.

  • Nice little reportage there!. I think you're older than me. Considerably older. Maybe several generations. Working out is so essential, especially as age kicks in, isn't it? I still lift weights, and so I'm confident that when I get to be at the hip breaking age, mine won't be a statistic. But I have a ways to go for that to be a concern.

  • What was impressive to me is that the Cubs won despite poor base running, several defensive miscues, Russell leaving due to injury, Arrieta having an off game and getting knocked out early, and Rondon giving up 2 runs in the 9th. If they can win a game like that... 

  • I was there too. The crowd was absolutely electric. People were standing for every big and semi-big moment, from the first inning on. It felt incredibly strange and exhilarating to see the Cubs (the Chicago bleepin' Cubs!) score playoff insurance runs on the Cardinals. What a game. One to remember.

  • 14 in attendance. What's the record for attendance in the fall? I guess I should ask what the record attendance listed is in one of your recaps.

  • I was there too, with my grown son. This is my miracle year-- I rose to the top of the season ticket list after eight years, completely unexpectedly, and my wonderful wife agreed to put the ticket fee on the emergency credit card. The whole point of course was that the Cubs were going to be good this year, and then for a while, so to get season tickets with the guaranteed shot at the postseason was incredible timing. We got to the remote lot at 4:10 after stopping at Nhu Lan for our usual banh mi sandwiches, only to find the lot full, way earlier than normal.

  • Wrigley was electric tonite
    Not many card fans
    Video board was great, they played "there goes my hero" by foos over ryno highlights before he came out. Spectacular

    Good times hopefully they win tomorrow but think Lester will beat poopy pants on Wednesday.

    Happy 4th anniversary of Theo's signing

    Go Cubs !

  • Yeah. "Goodbye!" is a lame HR call.

    I miss Len and JD -- although, driving home from a friend's, WBBM played all 6 HR calls in a row -- and Len got to call the Bryant/Rizzo back-to-back. Very fun.

  • Lackey has been a beast against us. His stats on 3 days rest, however, not as nice. There is plenty of hope.

  • And, no dreadlocks grown yet.

  • Captain Obvious Strikes Again!!!

  • Amen, brother.

  • In the wild card game he mentioned that aram started with the Pirates, then played for the Brewers, and now he's back with the Pirates. Uhhhh, missed a step there, guy.

  • i like ron darling the person, the interview, and the studio desk guy...but him calling a game can lead to some really stupid stuff coming out of his mouth.

  • If you think these announcers are bad ,the ones doing the Mets vs Dodgers (Ron Darling ,Cal Ripken and someone else)
    are worse they did the wildcard game I never knew Joe Jackson and Derrick Fowler played for the Cubs this year you
    would think there would be research by them.

  • daaaaaayam.