Pitching remains king, but teams still have to score runs to reach the postseason.
A more recent marker for playoff teams (pre/post steroids era) is generally 700 runs scored, which means the Cubs–ranked 28/30 in runs scored with 613–have a ton of ground to make up offensively.
How Chicago tops 700 is one of the main concerns for Team Theo during the rebuild and helps explain the organization’s new found interest in ‘grinding’ out plate approaches and increasing its team on-base percentage.
Only one team managed to reach the postseason in 2012 despite scoring fewer than 700 runs–the Reds at 669.
Cincy, however, made up for its lack of run production with an incredibly reliable rotation and one of the best bullpens in the majors–neither of which the Cubs have.
Meanwhile, the Braves joined Cincinnati as the only two playoff teams to rank below the major’s Top 15 teams in runs scored. Atlanta (700) ranked 17th and the Reds 21st.
Otherwise the 8 remaining postseason contenders all finished in the top half of the league in runs scored, including 4 teams ranked in the Top 10: Rangers first-overall (808), Yankees second (804), Cardinals fifth (765) & Nationals tenth (731).
The AL pennant winning Tigers ranked eleventh (726) and the World Series winning Giants twelfth (718). Both of course had sensational starting pitching.
Increasing run production by 87-runs won’t happen in one offseason for Chicago. And there’s already a smattering of scenarios that need to happen just for the Cubs to improve its run production next season, let alone reach 700 runs scored.
I do have faith Chicago will eventually assemble a lineup to reach the 700 marker and beyond in the next 2 or 3 seasons. Trying to prevent 700 runs from scoring, however, will be an entirely different matter, and one that should prove much more difficult to achieve.
It’s a no-brainer reaching October baseball ultimately comes down to solid pitching. But quality pitching doesn’t work alone, and rarely does it succeed without 700 runs of offense to go with it.
So let 700 runs scored be one number we use as a measuring stick during Year 2 of the Cubs’ rebuild. And the sooner it happens the closer the Cubs will be to reaching the postseason.