In NL Central, Run Differential Only Means So Much

The Cubs and Brewers have the same record despite drastically different scoring margins.

Bruce Levine
September 18, 2019 - 8:16 pm

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Usually a team carrying the second-best run differential in its respective league would feel pretty comfortable in its hope of reaching the playoffs, but that's not the case for the Cubs as 11 games remain in their season.

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The Cubs held a plus-116 run differential entering play Wednesday evening but perplexingly held the same 82-69 record as the Brewers, who sport a minus-24 run differential. Those two teams entered Wednesday evening tied for the second National League wild-card spot. The Dodgers lead the NL with a plus-242 run differential, while the NL Central-leading Cardinals sit at plus-98.

The numbers being so askew between Chicago and Milwaukee speaks to both the Cubs' penchant for scoring in bunches and the Brewers' strong play in close games. While the Cubs are averaging 5.11 runs per game for the season, they've stacked them together at times, scoring nine or more runs on 25 occasions. In their other 126 games, they've averaged 3.89 runs per game. 

Meanwhile, the Brewers have gone 26-15 in one-run games. 

"Usually run differential gives you a really good baseline of how a team has performed," senior vice president of player personnel Jason McLeod said. "There are outliers in some cases that may not follow suit in these scenarios. Possibly due to blowout losses and one-run games. It is amazing to watch Milwaukee play very good baseball two years in a row and get hot at certain key times in September."

"This speaks somewhat to the streakiness of this year's club. The inconsistent performance has been there all season. We had those big games and then you see us go on the road and have these team spells of not scoring runs. A total drought."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.