In case any of you have been living under a rock for the last five years, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016. Before that season, the Cubs’ expectations were similar to the youngest child of the family. The youngest is often forgotten but always lovable. You laugh whenever the youngest messes up. Parents have spent all the energy disciplining the older children, so the youngest is free to drink beers in the bleachers by the time they are out of diapers. The oldest is a parent’s pride and joy, whatever success the youngest provides is the icing on the cake.
I think you catch my drift. Cubs fans had a reputation of being okay with simply having a good time and enjoying some adult beverages on a warm, summer day in the bleachers. The product on the field was an afterthought.
A World Series Championship changed all of that.
The Chicago Cubs quickly entered the “World Series or bust” category of expectations. Fans became irritated with a blown save in April whereas before most fans didn’t even know baseball had started. There seemed to be more Cubs “fans” than ever spewing their negative takes over the internet about Joe Maddon‘s bullpen usage. Expectations sullied the happy, go-lucky attitude of the bleacher bums before us.
With the Cubs refusing to meet expectations the previous two seasons and the front office refusing to address needs, tensions are high in Wrigleyville. What better time for Cubs fan’s favorite projections to be released?!?
PECOTA released their projections for all the MLB teams recently. If you’re unfamiliar with PECOTA, it’s the Baseball Prospectus projection system for players and subsequently team success. There are a ton of metrics that go into each projection and it usually makes all fans mad online. These projections tend to exist in realism, while the majority of fanbases exist simply in optimism or pessimism. There is no in-between with baseball fans.
If you remember last season, PECOTA predicted the Cubs were to finish with 79 wins, eventually settling with 82 wins and a third-place NL Central finish. Fans on the North Side were OUTRAGED at these projections. The 2018 Cubs fell short of expectations, but how dare PECOTA predict such a poor finish from this promising young core! Well, the machines seemed to be correct, as the 2019 Cubs finished in third place with 84 wins.
That being said, Cubs fans’ expectations are very tempered this season. An offseason of inactivity has led to a lack of excitement around the 2020 season for most fans. PECOTA has released the following projections for the NL Central in 2020:
Not too shabby!
I’ll take it!
Objectively speaking, this team has gotten worse since the end of last season, and PECOTA thinks the Cubs are going to improve in 2020. It seems as though the injection of David Ross will make a bigger impact than most think. This record puts the Cubs in the second wild-card spot given the rest of the projections of the National League.
The biggest question remains, what makes a successful 2020 Cubs season for Cubs fans?
I can only speak for myself, but making the playoffs would be considered a successful 2020. As previously stated, the Cubs have not done much to make themselves a better ballclub this offseason. They have an aging pitching staff, a questionable bullpen, holes in their lineup, and a first-year manager. It is important to remember all of that when asking yourself this same question.
Would I love it if this Cubs team tackled the underdog role and shocked all of Major League Baseball? Obviously, and that could damn well happen. With all of the stated issues, I think the playoffs are a fair barometer for the 2020 Chicago Cubs. The NL Central is full of mediocre teams. Just be the best mediocre team in the division and this year will be a success in my eyes.
2021 is the year Tom Ricketts is set to open up the checkbook anyways, right…