The Cubs Offense Is On Pace To Be Historically Bad

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This isn’t exactly a newsflash, but the Cubs offense has been bad this season. Like, really bad. On Wednesday the Cubs played a doubleheader against the Yankees and managed to get shutout over the course of 18 innings played.

Through the first 14 games of the season the Cubs have scored 47 runs, for an average of 3.36 runs per game, and they’ve been shutout four times already. That means the Cubs offense has failed to score a run in 28.6% of the games it has played this season. Should the Cubs maintain that rate over the entire season they would be shutout 46 times.

That’s not likely to happen, but what if the Cubs maintained their 3.36 runs per game rate? That would put the Cubs on pace to score about 544 runs this season, and that would make this year’s offense one of the worst offenses — if not the worst — in franchise history.

How bad is the current rate? Well, if the Cubs do finish the season with 544 runs scored it would be tied for the tenth-lowest run total in any season in Cubs history, as the Cubs scored 544 runs in 1902 when they were known as the Chicago Orphans. Of course, the difference there is that the Orphans played 143 games in 1902.

In fact, none of the Cubs teams that managed to score less than 544 runs in a season played 162 games. The 1916 Cubs scored 520 runs in 156 games, which means that team averaged 3.33 runs per game, so they were slightly worse.

That 1916 team finished 67-86-3.

But how about Cubs seasons that were actually 162 games long?

Here are the ten worst seasons — as far as runs scored are concerned — that Cubs offenses have produced over a 162-game schedule

Worst Cubs Offenses (Runs Scored in 162 Games)
Season Runs Scored Per Game
1963 570 3.52
1992 593 3.66
2013 602 3.72
1976 611 3.77
1968* 612 3.75
2012 613 3.78
1973* 614 3.81
1980 614 3.79
1962 632 3.90
1971 637 3.93
*1968 team played 163 games, 1973 played 161

Yes, that’s right, at their current pace the Cubs are currently plugging along at a rate that will see them score 26 less runs than the lowest scoring team (again, in a 162 game schedule) in franchise history. Even more frustrating for Cubs fans is that this isn’t a new trend. As you can see, both the 2012 and 2013 seasons made this list.

Not scoring is not new.

In order for this year’s Cubs offense to avoid being the worst of the bunch it will have to score 524 runs over the final 148 games of the season, or only 3.54 runs per game. So it’s not exactly an impossible task, and there’s an incredibly long way to go. Things can change rather quickly, and hopefully they will once the weather warms up for good and balls start flying out of Wrigley Field at an alarming rate.

But at the moment we’re looking at a historic Cubs offense. Even if it would be historic for all the wrong reasons.

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