Storm Warning: Cubs Bringing Thunder in Second Half

I’m no Tom Skilling, but I fancy myself a bit of an amateur meteorologist. With that in mind, I wanted to take a few moments to explain to you, faithful reader, some of the science behind thunder. Thunder is the sound created by the rapid and violent contact of ash, maple, or hickory with horsehide, a reaction that causes an expansion of the air surrounding the blast. This expansion of air creates a sonic wave which we interpret as a sharp crack.

Yeah, I’m good at the science.

The Cubs had been experiencing a bit of a cold front as they headed into the All-Star break, going 14-17 in the 31 games to close out the first half. Even more concerning, they had scored more than 2 runs in only 15 of those contests. They only scored more than 4 runs 10 times. But there’s this thing about cold fronts: sometimes they combine with warmer air to produce storms.

In the 51 games since the Midsummer Classic, the Cubs have scored 2 or fewer runs only 12 times and have scored 6 or more 18 different times. That’s quite a swing from what we saw leading into the break and, really, the first half of the season as a whole.

The Cubs were 7th in the National League with only 77 home runs in their first 87 games. Their 335 runs ranked 11th. That’s only 3.85 runs and .89 homers per game, not exactly the type of numbers that strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers. What was even more frustrating than the paltry figures themselves was that we all knew this was a team that was capable of much more. Despite loads of talent up and down the roster, the Cubs just couldn’t seem to click.

Whether it was the time away, the re-addition of Kyle Schwarber, or the resurgence of Dexter Fowler, this team has caught lightning in a bottle since taking a few days off in July. To wit, they’ve hit 75 home runs in the last 51 games (1.47/game), a 65% increase in HR/game. That’s only 2 shy of their 1st half dinger total and trails only the Mets (77) for tops in the NL in the 2nd half.

As for runs, yeah, those are piling up too. The Cubs’ 249 tallies are behind only — you guessed it — the Mets (276) in the NL in the 2nd half, and their 4.88 runs/game average is nearly 27% higher than what they were producing earlier. Not quite as nice, but certainly enough to provide a better cushion for any starting pitcher not named Jake Arrieta.

In the first half, the Cubs posted a .540 winning percentage and were 7 games over .500 (47-40). To date in the second half, those marks are .647 and 15 over (33-18). Funny what a few more runs will do. Cubs fans have been jumping at loud noises lately, but it’s generally been in celebration. Opponents, however, are surely getting a little worried by the frequency and proximity of the thunderclaps coming from the Cubs’ bats.

And if I’m interpreting the data from our super high-tech doppler radar correctly, it doesn’t look like this system is going to be moving out of the area anytime soon.

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