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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  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
    Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:

    Some "Highlights"
    Carl Crawford $20MM
    Brandon McCarthy $17MM
    Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
    Darwin B $2.2MM
    Dan Haren $10MM
    Matt Kemp $18MM
    Brian Wilson $10MM
    Ryan Webb $2.2MM
    Dee Gordon $2.5MM

  • So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.


    And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):

  • i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.

    there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.

  • I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.

  • O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already. 

  • I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.

    I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.

  • Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.

  • With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined). 

  • BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.

    If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).

    As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).

  • I want my baseball team to win by playing better baseball. I don't want umps, fields, or fans to have anything to do with it.