The Chicago Cubs are in the middle (well, hopefully not the middle anymore) of the longest title drought in baseball—hell, in all of American sports.
But this could finally be the year that the Cubbies break through and shed that lovable-loser label that has been cast upon them for the past 100 years.
From top to bottom, this is really the best lineup and pitching staff, in my opinion, in the majors. They don't have many holes, and even the pitchers can hit better than almost any team. (Except for Arizona's Micah Owings—he is nasty at the plate.)
First of all, they are ruling the offensive stat column. Look at OBP (1st in Majors), batting average (2nd), runs scored (1st), walks (2nd), and for a team that prides itself on getting hits, they can jack a few home runs while they are at it (7th).
They have been led by Kosuke Fukudome, who has turned a power team into a team that prides itself by drawing walks, working deep counts, and making their way into the opposing bullpen.
Fukudome gets on base frequently, and follows a hitting strategy that is rarely seen in the majors but is prevalent in Japan. He doesn't look for balls and strikes, he looks for hittable balls and un-hittable balls, if he doesn't think he has a chance, he won't swing.
The strategy seems to be working, as he has a .322 average and a .424 OBP, and it is rubbing off on his teammates.
Even Alfonso Soriano, who spent most of the season slumping or on the DL, has picked up the pace and brought his OBP up to .304. Not exactly what Cub fans are looking for, but he is picking it up and will be up to a normal OBP and average in no time.
They aren't only a hitting team—the pitching staff is doing pretty well, too. Carlos Zambrano is pitching out of his mind, at 6-1 with a 2.03 ERA. Ryan Dempster, who came into this season hoping to be in the starting rotation, is 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA.
Carlos Marmol is continuing to thrive in middle relief with an ERA of 1.04, giving the Cubs a good man to help get to Kerry Wood, who has nine saves in 12 opportunities (not great but definitely not bad) with a 3.74 ERA.
And all these stats and individual performances aren't just for nothing, the Cubs are tied with Arizona for the most wins in the Majors.
Their record is 26-16, half a game behind the Diamondbacks, who they swept last weekend, for the best record in MLB.
Could this season be the season that they finally come back and make it all the way to the glory land of a World Series victory?
I think so, and hopefully Chicago agrees with me.
I'm Joe W.
Statistics for this article were found from MLB.com and ChicagoCubs.com