With Monday’s blowout win over the Pirates, the Cubs collected their 100th win of the season. I don’t know if I ever thought I would see that my lifetime. I didn’t think the Cubs would ever be that good. In addition, Kris Bryant hit his 39th home run and drove in his 100th and 101st RBIs on the season. I think those are good things to see, but it got me thinking just exactly what 100 wins means.
Based upon the way the season is gone, I think the postseason is what everybody’s been waiting for since last October, hence the subtitle of this website. While 100 wins are nice, it is an accomplishment that hasn’t been seen since the 1930s for Cubs fans, I don’t know if it really means much beyond the Division Championship and home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs this year. When I start thinking about what 100 wins now, I actually tend to think towards what it means for next year.
The Cubs won 100 games despite the following things happening:
1. Kyle Schwarber missed all but two games. Just think about how his left-handed bat would have lengthened the lineup. Think about how his thunderous bat would have provided depth and power throughout the course of the year.
2. Jason Heyward had a very good year defensively. But at the plate, he stunk until late August/early September. And even then, I don’t think he was playing to his full potential. He was playing better, but not great. I tend to think he’s putting way too much pressure on himself at the plate to try and live up to that contract. I think the same was true of Lester last year. That’s why I think in 2017 he is going to play much much better at the plate.
3. On most other teams Jason Hammel would be a three or a four starter. For the Cubs, he’s their fifth starter. To have a fifth starter with an ERA under four, I think most teams are going to take that and run with it. I don’t know about the Cubs next year. Maybe Mike Montgomery takes his place, or the Cubs make a trade this winter, or a young prospect shoots up through the system to earn a spot in the rotation. But I don’t think the Cubs get to 100 wins without Hammel. I just don’t think he makes the playoff roster.
4. Just imagine what this season could have been like if Jorge Soler had stayed healthy. While that question may becoming too common, his potent bat in the lineup, like Schwarber, also provides some serious pop behind Bryant and Rizzo. For the better part of the second half, the Cubs number four hitter was Ben Zobrist or Willson Contreras. Not exactly your prototypical cleanup hitters.
If you look at this season in thirds, it’s easy to see that the first third, and the last third, the Cubs dominated their opponents. In the middle third, they struggled. It’s 162 game season, it’s a long grind, and I don’t think you can expect any more from what they gave this year. You could possibly have three guys with 100 RBIs by the end of the week. You will have three pitchers with an ERA under three.
It shivers me to think that the Cubs could improve at a couple of places in their lineup and one in their starting rotation next year. 100 wins don’t happen all the time or every year in Major League Baseball. But I think you need to celebrate it when it does. However, next year could be even better with Schwarber’s return, an improved Heyward, a possibly resurgent Soler, and one better starter.
But for now, I am waiting for next Thursday to begin play against whoever emerges from the NL wildcard game, which as of this morning, is a three team race. So, I guess 100 wins means we just hurry up and wait for now.