1906 “Hitless Wonders” White Sox vs 2020 “Very Little Offense” Cubs

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There is a reason Marquee Network analysts talk all the time about Ian Happ, and very little about the other bats in the Chicago Cubs lineup. Yes, he is having a MVP level season, but beyond him, Jason Heyward and sometimes Kyle Schwarber, a little bit, there is nothing to get excited about with this 2020 Cubs offense.

And Marquee is owned by the Cubs, and therefore a propaganda network, so what else are they going to say? But honestly, it’s astounding when you think about it- the Cubs have only three, maybe three and a half guys doing anything at all this season in their lineup, just two good starting pitchers and biohazard for a bullpen, yet they’re sitting in first place.

ESPN says they have a 98.7% of making the playoffs, and that does seem legit given a.) the weakness of their division and b.) the remaining schedule for the St. Louis Covidinals, the team closest to them in the central.

The Cardinals have five double headers to play in these last 18 days, and are eight games behind the Cubs in total played. They sit three games behind in the standings and are given a 78.4% chance of making the postseason. Basically, they’ll be picking guys up off the street to pitch for them in the back halves of these double headers, or throwing guys out there on very little rest.

In other words, this season, and it’s a true season in the same sense that spam is a meat, both clubs will make the playoffs.

You know who else is making the playoffs? The Chicago White Sox, and this will be their first appearance since, well it was so long ago, George W. Bush was still President. ESPN gives them a 99.8% of reaching the postseason, meaning this will be just the third time in history that both Chicago ballclubs reach October.

The most recent was 2008, when the Sox won just one postseason game, and the Cubs zero. In 1906, the two sides met in an intracity World Series, won by the Sox 4-2. That Sox team went 93-58 that season despite their “hitless wonders” moniker. They beat a Cubs side that went 116-36, holding the MLB single season wins record, by themselves, for nearly a century.

The 2001 Mariners tied them, but they needed 162 games to get there while the Cubs did it in just 154. And there is something so utterly quirky and laughably crazy about the Cubs and Mariners, the two franchises that are, arguably, most synonymous with disastrous amounts of losing sharing the wins record.

But enough about the Mariners, Cardinals and even the 1906 Cubs, as what’s really interesting here is how the 1906 White Sox, despite being unable to hit, somehow ultimately bested the team with the greatest regular season in baseball history.

Comparing them to the current Cubs is kind of course apples to oranges as that was the deadball era, but then again it’s 2020, a world where we might as well wear socks on our hands while watching hamburgers eat people.

The designated hitter rule has done nothing to help the current Cubs, as their DHs have a 77 wRC+, 12th in the National League and by far the worst amongst projected playoff teams. They’re surprisingly eighth in the NL in runs scored while 12th in batting, ninth in OPS, on base percentage and slugging.

Heyward and exactly .300 and Happ at .295 are the only two regulars with stellar BAs. Jason Kipnis is a decent .263 while Kris Bryant is still below the Mendoza line and Anthony Rizzo and Schwarber are in the .210s. Rounding out the “core four” is Javier Baez, situated in between them with a .208.

Guess who else had only two everyday regulars above .270? Yes, the ought-six Pale Hose. Second baseman Frank Isbell led the team with a .279 average while shortstop George Davis was at .277.

Both the 2020 Cubs and the 1906 White Sox have this common- only three everyday regulars with a batting average above .250 and four below .230.

charles comiskey

But again that Sox won it all in the end, so maybe that’s not such terrible company to be in? Maybe David Ross and Charles Comiskey have figured out some kind of magic formula the rest of us cannot?

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TVSports IllustratedChicago Now and SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago Tribune.comon Twitter and his cat on Instagram.

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