With New York City and Los Angeles, Chicago doesn’t come in first in a lot of city-based statistics. When it comes to baseball, however, that’s an entirely different story. Chicago is the MVC for the MLB. There is no more valuable city to baseball this season than our very own 606.
The two best records in all of baseball belong to the Chicago Cubs, and the Chicago White Sox. These crosstown rivals are generating headlines across the nation for their hot starts. While it is fun to celebrate the early success, and they get to keep these early wins for the rest of the season, let’s take a closer look with the help of some stats* to see who has a better chance of keeping it up the rest of the way.
Wins Above Replacement (WAR): WAR is a stat that tries to sum up a player’s all around value in one number. It determines how many more wins a player is worth than any other easily replaceable mediocre player.
Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP): “measures what a player’s ERA would look like over a given period of time if the pitcher were to have experienced league average results on balls in play and league average timing.” – via Fangraphs.com glossary.
Chicago Cubs: .750 (#1 in MLB)
Chicago White Sox: .632 (Tied for #3 in MLB with Red Sox)
Runs Scored Per Game
Chicago Cubs: 5.94 (#2 in MLB to Red Sox)
Chicago White Sox: 4.42 (#12 in MLB)
Cubs Standout Performers (in Offensive Runs Above Average)
Dexter Fowler: 15.3 (#3 in MLB)
Anthony Rizzo: 11.3 (#11)
Ben Zobrist: 10.1 (#16)
Tommy LaStella: 5.7 (Tied for #52)
Kris Bryant: 5.2 (#57)
Addison Russell: 3.6
Matt Szczur: 3.3
Javier Baez: 1.4
David Ross: 1.0
The re-signing of Dexter Fowler has proven to be a huge coup for the Cubs. Not only does he have one of the cutest kids in the league, but he’s been arguably the league’s best outfielder (he’s tied with Mike Trout for 2.5 Wins Above Replacement level players, .5 ahead of Bryce Harper’s 2.0 WAR). It’s hard to believe Fowler will stay THIS good, but he doesn’t have to. LaStella and Szczur are probably hitting a little over their heads at the moment, but I suspect the rest of the crew to keep up the good work, and wouldn’t be surprised to see Jason Heyward and Jorge Soler heat up when the weather does.
White Sox Standout Performers: (in Offensive Runs Above Average)
Adam Eaton: 5.7 (Tied for #52)
Brett Lawrie: 5.1 (#60)
Melky Cabrera: 4.3
Avisail Garcia: 4.2
Todd Frazier: 3.7
Brett Lawrie and Todd Frazier are providing the Pale Hose with some immediate impact in their initial season at the Cell. I think everyone here is capable of keeping up this performance (Lawrie was a top-flight prospect once upon a time) and I think Frazier’s offense will actually improve as the summer rolls along.
Edge: Baby Bears
Runs Allowed Per Game
Chicago Cubs: 2.92 (#1 in MLB)
Chicago White Sox: 3.42 (#4 in MLB)
Kris Bryant should start modeling gloves for EXPRESS MEN because he’s been flashing the leather like a stud this year.
Cubs Standout Performers (in Defensive Runs Above Average)
Kris Bryant: 5.7
Addison Russell: 4.5
Jason Heyward: 3.8
Dexter Fowler: 3.5
David Ross: 3.4
Javier Baez: 3.1
Ben Zobrist: 1.9
Chicago White Sox Standout Performers (in Defensive Runs Above Average)
The Southsiders have been unspectacular on defense this year, save for the play of the extraordinary Adam Eaton, who has outplayed his Northside counterpart Heyward, the reigning NL Gold Glove winner.
Adam Eaton: 10.6
Dioner Navarro: 1.8
Tyler Saladino: 1.3
Alex Avila 1.0
Edge: Northsiders. This I find to be a very important category, because even though I love watching offense, batting is hard and even the best hitters slump, but defense doesn’t slump. The excellent defense displayed by the Cubs early on suggests that they will help keep their pitchers in games, keep games close, and this should prevent prolonged losing streaks.
Something else that doesn’t tend to slump as much as hitting is pitching.
Jake Arrieta: 1.6 WAR (#6 in MLB) / 1.29 ERA / 2.62 FIP
Jon Lester: 1.3 (#14) / 1.88 / 3.14
Jason Hammel: 1.0 (#30) / 1.77 / 2.97
Kyle Hendricks: 1.1 (#22) / 3.03 / 2.48
John Lackey: 1.0 (#28) / 3.54 / 3.18
Pedro Strop: 0.2 / 3.68 / 2.69
Hector Rondon: 0.5 / 1.35 / 1.00
It’s encouraging for Cub fans that every major pitcher’s FIP is below 3.50, suggesting that their great results aren’t based on luck.
Chicago White Sox:
Chris Sale: 1.9 WAR (#3) / 1.67 ERA / 2.84 FIP
Jose Quintana: 2.0 (#2) / 1.54 / 2.19
Carlos Rodon: 0.5 / 4.99 / 4.33
Mat Latos: 0.3 / 3.40 / 4.66
Miguel Gonzalez: 0.0 / 5.17 / 5.46
Zach Duke: 0.4 / 3.00 / 2.56
David Robertson: 0.6 / 1.23 / 2.01
As highly as I think of Jake Arrieta, and I think he’s the best there is, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana have actually out-pitched him this season. The problem is that after you get past Sale and Quintana, the rest of the starting staff has been rather pedestrian. Latos is lucky to have an ERA under 4 right now, so Sox fans should brace for a course correction there. I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom, however, as I have high hopes for Carlos Rodon’s potential once he can improve his control & command. Both teams have solid bullpens, and we could have Arrieta Vs Sale to start the All-Star game this season, but the White Sox are more top-heavy and less balanced than the Cubs in their rotation.
(Total number of runs scored by a team in all games, minus the total number of runs scored by the team’s opponent in all games)
Chicago Cubs: +109 (#1 in MLB by 50 Runs)
Chicago White Sox: +38 (#4 in MLB)
Edge: Maddon Men
Right now, the White Sox are one of the best teams in baseball, and that is great for Chicago. Right now, the Chicago Cubs are looking like one of the best teams in history, and that is great for baseball. Go Chicago!
*(Statistics collected from Fangraphs.com on of 5/17/2016)