A continuation of the series of retrospectives looking back at the regular season and how teams fared. They will be presented, from first to last, in order of their run differential as given by the BaseRuns formula, which I feel is the best measurement of a team’s actual talent level.
Number Two: Chicago Cubs
Owners of the best record in the National League and the best actual run differential in the majors, the Cubs ranked 3rd in the majors in runs scored and 5th in runs allowed by BaseRuns.
Like the Red Sox above them, the Cubs did well to balance both good offense and defense and their bullpen was rooted in the success of two main pitchers, Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood. Beside those two, the Cubs pen was rather ordinary.
In the rotation, the Cubs lost the contribution of Rich Hill and got almost nothing out of acquisition Jon Lieber, but instead got a tremendous uplift from moving Ryan Dempster out of the closer role into the rotation. Beyond him, mid season pickup Rich Harden managed to stay healthy and helped solidify the Cubs on top of the Central.
The Cubs were heavily rumored to be involved in trading for Brian Roberts over the summer at the cost of a massive haul of prospects. It’s a good thing for them that Peter Angelos balked at the proposal since the Cubs were able to use some of those prospects to acquire Rich Harden and also because Mark DeRosa flipped out this year eclipsing 20 home runs for the first time in his career.
Continuing with the bats, the Cubs got a great performance out of Geovany Soto, fulfilling the promise he showed at the tail end of 2007 and a bargain pick up of Jim Edmonds after a disastrous first 100 plate appearances in San Diego. Edmonds came over and put up a rejuvenated .937 OPS. A nice boost from Mike Fontenot joined the usual contributions from Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee as well.
In the end, it was an extremely potent offense, bordering on the best in the majors when you factor in that the only two teams to produce more offensively were both AL teams benefiting from having a designated hitter.
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