We’re 30 games into the 2022 Cubs season. That’s 18.5 percent of the season, which isn’t a large sample size. It’s not a particularly small sample size either, however, and today I’m going to take a look at two win/loss splits that I think are unusual.
The Cubs are 4-11 at home and 7-8 away
This is extremely strange. Most teams play better at their home parks because they are used to the environment and dimensions, their home clubhouse, sleeping in their own beds, etc.
Only one team has a worse record at home than this, the Nationals, who are 4-13 (and 7-9 away). Twenty-one of MLB’s 30 teams have records of .500 or more at their home parks, including some (Braves, Phillies, Orioles, Mariners) who have lost points overall.
Is this random variation for the Cubs? You could say yes, but I would argue no just because 4-11 is not only “slightly” under .500, but a win ratio of .267. Let’s look at some of the other numbers.
Here are the Cubs home/road splits for Wednesday’s games. They have played the same number of home and away games, 15 each:
Home: .226/.314/.342 (108-for-477), 19 doubles, 10 home runs, .293 BABIP
Street: .247/.316/.383 (125-for-506), 31 doubles, 12 homers, .311 BABIP
There aren’t enough differences there to draw any conclusions. The OBP is about the same in both places, they’ve hit more doubles along the way, but nothing that would explain such a big divergence. Keep in mind that the “home” numbers above include the 21-run breakout against the Pirates on April 23, so they’re significantly worse in the other 14 games at home. Aside from that 21-0 win, the Cubs have 44 runs and conceded 64 at home.
What about pitching?
Home: 3.89 ERA, 1,273 WHIP, 13 home runs allowed
Street: 4.57 ERA, 1,383 WHIP, 23 home runs allowed
Well, you’d expect that – but then again, the Cubs win games on the road where they give up more runs. They have a -14 running differential on the road, even with that 7-8 record.
Then I thought: What about the weather? Conditions at Wrigley Field have been appalling for most of this spring, including a game against the White Sox that was played in appalling conditions. On the road, the Cubs have played six games in warm-weather cities and three in Milwaukee with the roof closed. Their record in those games: 4-5, so they’re 3-3 in “other” road games, two in Pittsburgh, four in Colorado.
Here’s the Cubs’ record of varied temperatures at gametime, at home and on the road:
Up to 44 degrees: 3-1 (3-1 home, 0-0 away)
45-54 degrees: 0-6 (0-6 home, 0-0 street)
55-64 degrees: 3-8 (0-2 home, 3-6 street)
65-74 degrees: 4-3 (1-2 home, 3-1 street)
Inside: 1-2 (1-2 street)
Good. Those numbers are everywhere. The cubs are good when it’s cold and good when it’s warm, but not in between? Apparently or actually from these other figures no conclusion can be drawn from the weather conditions.
What about the other split mentioned in the headline?
The Cubs are 7-4 in day games and 4-15 in night games
When the games are played shouldn’t make a difference either, right? It’s random, isn’t it? Here are the splits.
Day matches: 7-4 (3-3 at home, 4-1 road)
night games: 4-15 (1-8 home, 3-7 street)
By the way, the MLB.com ranking is wrong. They list the Cubs as 7-5 in day games, 4-14 in night games. The discrepancy appears to be the April 22 game against the Pirates, which was rescheduled from 1:20 PM CT to 7:05 PM CT. That’s not a delay in the start of the game (MLB.com’s box score doesn’t list any), this game officially had its start time pushed back. It was a night game. The Cubs lost it 4-2 and this link to baseball-reference.com shows it as a night game. Also, it is correctly listed as a night game on the bb-ref Cubs schedule/results page.
Anyway, here are more Cubs day/night splits. First hit:
Day matches: .269/.351/.416 (101-for-375), 11 home runs, .331 BABIP
night games: .217/.293/.331 (132-for-608), 11 home runs, .284 BABIP
It should also be noted that the Cubs have scored almost the same number of runs in day games and night games, 61 in day games and 59 in night games — and 21 of those day games came in the Pirate’s 21-0 shutout.
Day matches: 3.03 ERA, 1,163 WHIP, 10 home runs in 98 innings, .260 BABIP
night games: 4.94 ERA, 1.426 WHIP, 26 home runs in 162 innings, .314 BABIP
There is definitely a bit of luck involved with the BABIP, which should (theoretically) balance itself out over the course of the season. Perhaps that will change as the weather steadily warms — the Cubs have played well in San Diego in good (if chilly) weather.
There really isn’t one here. The numbers seem unrelated to records won/lost, at least not yet, despite the fact that the Cubs’ home/road record falls short of what most teams normally do and is the day/night record weird (only the Reds are worse than the Cubs in night games by 3-15 and the Reds are worse in almost everything so far this year).
If something like this continues, I’ll go over the numbers again later in the season. In the meantime, since I’ve done all this research, you’ll be reading about it anyway, even if it doesn’t seem to mean anything at this point.