Baseball by the Numbers: Cubs’ surge up standings fueled by offense

Since July 14, the Cubs’ 7.1 runs per game lead the majors by almost a run over the Dodgers’ 6.2 and their 16-7 record is tied with that of the Orioles for the best in the majors.

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Since the All-Star break, Cody Bellinger is hitting .393/.434/.685 with seven home runs, 20 RBI and a 199 wRC+.

Since the All-Star break, Cody Bellinger is hitting .393/.434/.685 with seven home runs, 20 RBI and a 199 wRC+.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

The Cubs’ surge since the All-Star break has been rooted in offense. Through Sunday, their 7.1 runs per game since July 14 lead the majors by almost a run over the Dodgers’ 6.2 and their 16-7 record is tied with that of the Orioles for the best in the majors.

Their offense had been rising for about a month before the break. The return June 15 of Cody Bellinger from the injured list was a key factor, but 11-3 and 10-6 routs of the Pirates the two days before his activation kicked things off.

Through June 11, the Cubs were 28-37 and averaging 4.2 runs. From June 13 through July 9 — their last game before the break — they went 14-9 and averaged 5.7 runs to set up the big post-All-Star leap.

There has been no such improvement in preventing runs. Cubs opponents scored 4.4 runs per game through June 11 and have scored 4.5 since, including 5.0 since the break.

Early in the season, the Cubs’ offense was middling at best. They were hitting .243/.323/.391 and averaging 1.11 home runs per game. Their .714 OPS through June 11 ranked 19th in the majors. With adjustments for ballparks and opposition, their 96 weighted runs created plus meant their production was 4% below average.

Since June 13, the Cubs have hit .275/.349/.461 for an .810 OPS that ranks third in the majors. They’ve averaged 1.34 homers per game and have a 120 wRC+, 20% better than average.

Since the break, the Cubs have had the top-performing offense in the majors. They’ve hit .296/.371/.514 for major-league bests in OPS (.885) and wRC+ (139). Their 39 homers come out to 1.70 per game. That’s a big leap forward.

The leader has been Bellinger. Since coming off the IL, he has hit .374/.414/.595 with nine homers, 35 RBI and a sky-high 170 wRC+. Since the break, his numbers have soared to .393/.434/.685 with seven homers, 20 RBI and a 199 wRC+.

But the surge has reached up and down the lineup. From June 13 onward, wRC+ numbers include 146 each for Dansby Swanson and Nick Madrigal, 129 for Mike Tauchman and 126 for Ian Happ. Swanson leads the team with 11 homers in that period, and Tauchman leads with 35 RBI.

Since the break, Swanson has been nearly as hot as Bellinger, with seven homers and a 189 wRC+. Tauchman is right behind with a 177 wRC+, with Happ at 142, Christopher Morel at 125 and Nico Hoerner at 124.

Newcomer Jeimer Candelario has only 25 plate appearances with the Cubs, but with a homer and four doubles among 12 hits, he’s at .571/.640/.905 for 314 wRC+. Those numbers will normalize with a larger sample. The average wRC+ is 100, and Candelario’s career highs are 140 in the COVID-shortened 2020 season and 120 in 2021.

Still, Candelario’s hot start with the Cubs fits into an offensive wave that has stretched for two months. It has been a broad-based surge, with almost the entire lineup on a productive tear.

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