MLB Playoff race: Cubs are trailing division, wildcard leaders

The Chicago Cubs have struggled so far to defend their crown in 2017; as we check in on the playoff race.

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After putting an end to their legendary World Series drought in 2016, many pundits picked the defending champion Cubs to repeat. That hasn’t been the case, however, as the Cubs are performing at a less than godlike level this season; and they’ve struggled to stay around .500 ever since.

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Not all has gone smoothly in Chicago’s north end this season. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images – CheatSheet)

Offensively, the Cubs have been unable to find holes in the opposing team’s defensive alignments. So far in 2017, their BABIP is .280 — last season their BABIP was .302. As a result of this poorer “luck” Chicago’s on base percentage has dropped 16 points since last season (.343 to .327), even though they’re still walking at about the same rate from ’16 to ’17. Because of the decrease in OBP, the defending champs are only averaging 4.7 runs scored per game, which is down .23 runs per game from 2016.

But it’s not just the offense that has struggled so far this season, Chicago’s pitching staff has regressed to the mean after their insane 2016 performance. During their 106 win campaign, the Cubs’ staff only allowed 3.42 runs per game; and that was largely thanks to their ability to strand runners (77.5%). That number has come down to earth this season as they’re only stranding 73.9%, which means opposing teams are now scoring 4.35 per game. The pitching staff has also seen an uptick in their walks and home run rates this season — up to 3.38 and 1.26 pre nine innings, respectively — which also has played apart in their opponents increased offensive output.

Thanks to this decrease in performance, the defending World Series champs are currently on the outside looking in when it comes to the division and wildcard races.

Division Leaders

(DIVISION) 

LEADERS

W-L PROJECTED 

W-L

DIVISION

ODDS

WILDCARD

ODDS

PLAYOFF 

ODDS

(AL East)

NY Yankees

40-33  87-75  30%  36.4%  66.4%
(AL Central)

Twins

 39-34  80-82  5.1%  10.7% 15.8%
(AL West)

Astros

 52-25  101-61  99.7%  0.3%  100.00%
(NL East)

Nationals

 45-30  95-67  97.7%  0.9%  98.6%
(NL Central)

Brewers

 41-37  79-83  5.5%  3.9%  9.4%
(NL West)

Dodgers

 51-26  103-59  94.3%  5.7%  100%

American League Wildcard

TEAMS  GAME 

BACK

W-L PROJECTED 

W-L

WILDCARD 

ODDS

DIVISION

ODDS

Red Sox – X  1.5  41-34  87-75  27.9%  55.6%
Indians – X  0  39-35  89-73  3.7%  59.7%
Rays  -1  40-38  81-81  16.5%  5.4%
Rangers  -1.5  38-37  81-81  24%  0.2%
Angels  -1.5  40-39  80-82  13.8% 0%
Mariners  -2  39-39  82-80  22.2%  0.1%
Royals  -2  37-37  79-83  7.4%  3.6%

X-Currently holds a wildcard spot

National League Wildcard

TEAMS  GAME 

BACK 

W-L  PROJECTED 

W-L

WILDCARD

ODDS

DIVISION 

ODDS

Diamondbacks -X  2.0  48-28  91-71  86.7% 4.4%
Rockies – X  0  47-31  88-74  77.9%  1.3%
Cubs  -7.5  38-37  89-73  3.3% 81.1%
Braves  -9.5  36-39 73-89  0.6%  0.1%
Pirates  -11  35-41 77-85  1.9% 3.4%
Cardinals  -11  34-40  80-82  6.2% 9.9%
Marlins  -11  34-40  79-83  5.6% 1.1%

X-Currently holds a wildcard spot

Playoff odds are courtesy of Fangraphs, 6/26/2017

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