No Cubs game today, so here are some random facts to help you while away the time. If I were more social media inclined, I would probably have just tweeted all of these.
• All five members of the Cubs rotation are among the top 40 leaders in career bWAR. Cole Hamels (5) leads the pack, followed by Jon Lester (8), José Quintana (19), Yu Darvish (26), and Kyle Hendricks (36).
• The NL Central was widely viewed as the most competitive division in baseball and the run differentials show just how true that is. The aggregate run differential of the division is +74, the other divisions are +44 (AL West), +14 (NL West), +11 (AL East), -52 (AL Central) and -91 (NL East). If we eliminate the each division leader, the NL Central is the only division with a positive run differential (+20). Even the last place Reds sit at +30. Interestingly, the NL East was supposed to be almost as competitive as the Central, yet features the worst aggregate run differential in baseball (part of that is the Marlins’ fault).
• Earlier this month, over the space of 48 hours, we were recently treated to both a Gibson and a Maddux. Kyle Hendricks provided the Maddux, a complete-game shutout in under 100 pitches. Noah Syndergaard supplied the Gibson, a complete game in which the winning pitcher hits more home runs than he allows runs. The Gibson is rarer than a no-hitter (208 in total), and getting rarer still this decade. With MLB moving towards adopting the designated hitter in the NL, this may be the last Gibson ever thrown.
• Since 2010, only 18 players have homered in their first at-bat. Three have been Cubs: Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler, and Willson Contreras (on his first MLB pitch, no less). Current Cub Jason Heyward is also on that list. The Cubs also feature an additional two players whose first hit in their first game (just not first AB) was a homer: Javy Báez and Ian Happ, although I could not track down how common that feat is.
• Chicago sports franchises have an odd habit of being trendsetters in the realm of in-stadium audio flair (for lack of a better term). The Cubs introduced MLB’s first organ at Wrigley, the Blackhawks had the first NHL goal horn, and the Bulls pioneered the elaborate lights-out starting lineup introductions that every team now utilizes. I have no idea how unusual this is, statistically speaking.
• Finally, leaving the field of sports entirely, it recently occurred to me that if DC, whose formal name is the District of Columbia, ever is granted statehood, we would have to call it…Columbia.