Does it mean anything? No, wait, before you answer, look at the data.
We are 30 games into the Cubs’ 2022 season. That’s 18.5 percent of the season, which is not a huge sample size. Neither, however, is it a really small sample size, and today I’m going to take a look at two won/lost splits that I think are unusual.
The Cubs are 4-11 at home and 7-8 on the road
This is extremely odd. Most teams play better in their home parks because they are used to the surroundings and dimensions, their home clubhouse, sleeping in their own beds, etc.
Only one team has a record worse than this at home, the Nationals, who are 4-13 (and 7-9 on the road). Twenty-one of the 30 MLB teams have .500 or better records in their home parks, including some (Braves, Phillies, Orioles, Mariners) who have losing marks overall.
Is this random variation for the Cubs? You might say “Yes,” but I’d argue “No,” only because 4-11 is not just “slightly” under .500, it’s a .267 winning percentage. Let’s look at some of the other numbers.
Through Wednesday’s games, here are the Cubs’ home/road splits. They have played an equal number of home and road games, 15 each:
Home: .226/.314/.342 (108-for-477), 19 doubles, 10 home runs, .293 BABIP
Road: .247/.316/.383 (125-for-506), 31 doubles, 12 home runs, .311 BABIP
There’s not enough difference there to draw any conclusions. The OBP is about the same in both places, they’ve hit more doubles on the road, but nothing that would account for a divergence this great. Remember that the “home” figures above include the 21-run outburst against the Pirates April 23, though, so in the 14 other games they’re significantly worse at home. Apart from that 21-0 win, the Cubs have scored 44 runs at home and allowed 64.
What about pitching?
Home: 3.89 ERA, 1.273 WHIP, 13 home runs allowed
Road: 4.57 ERA, 1.383 WHIP, 23 home runs allowed
Well, you’d expect that — but then, the Cubs are winning games on the road in which they are giving up more runs. They have a -14 run differential on the road, even with that 7-8 record.
Then I thought: What about the weather? Conditions at Wrigley Field have been awful for most of this spring, including one game against the White Sox played in horrific conditions. On the road, the Cubs have played six games in warm-weather cities and three in Milwaukee with the roof closed. Their record in those games: 4-5, and so they are 3-3 in “other” road games, two in Pittsburgh, four in Colorado.
Here is the Cubs’ record with various temperatures at game time, home and road:
Up to 44 degrees: 3-1 (3-1 home, 0-0 road)
45-54 degrees: 0-6 (0-6 home, 0-0 road)
55-64 degrees: 3-8 (0-2 home, 3-6 road)
65-74 degrees: 4-3 (1-2 home, 3-1 road)
Indoors: 1-2 (1-2 road)
Welp. Those numbers are all over the place. The Cubs are good when it’s cold and good when it’s warm but not in between? No conclusion can be drawn from weather conditions, apparently, or, really, any of these other numbers.
What about the other split noted in the headline?
The Cubs are 7-4 in day games and 4-15 in night games
When the games are played shouldn’t make any difference either, right? It’s random, right? Here are the splits.
Day games: 7-4 (3-3 home, 4-1 road)
Night games: 4-15 (1-8 home, 3-7 road)
Incidentally, MLB.com’s standings are incorrect. They list the Cubs as 7-5 in day games, 4-14 in night games. The discrepancy appears to be the April 22 game against the Pirates, which was moved from 1:20 p.m. CT to 7:05 p.m. CT. That’s not a delay in the start of the game (the MLB.com boxscore doesn’t list one), this game had its starting time officially moved. It was a night game. The Cubs lost it 4-2 and that baseball-reference.com link shows it as a night game. Further, bb-ref’s Cubs day-to-day schedule/result page has it listed correctly as a night game.
Anyway, here are more Cubs day/night splits. First, batting:
Day games: .269/.351/.416 (101-for-375), 11 home runs, .331 BABIP
Night games: .217/.293/.331 (132-for-608), 11 home runs, .284 BABIP
It should also be noted that the Cubs have scored almost an equal number of runs in day games and night games, 61 in day games and 59 in night games — and 21 of those day-game runs came in the 21-0 shutout of the Pirates.
Day games: 3.03 ERA, 1.163 WHIP, 10 home runs in 98 innings, .260 BABIP
Night games: 4.94 ERA, 1.426 WHIP, 26 home runs in 162 innings, .314 BABIP
There is clearly a bit of luck involved here with the BABIP that should (theoretically) even out as the season goes on. Maybe it’ll change when the weather gets consistently warmer — the Cubs played well in San Diego in good (though coolish) weather.
There really isn’t one here. The numbers don’t appear to have any relation to the won/lost records, at least not yet, despite the fact that the Cubs’ home/road record is backward from what most teams usually do and the day/night record is weird (only the Reds, at 3-15, are worse than the Cubs in night games and the Reds are just, well, worse in almost everything so far this year).
If this sort of thing continues I’ll revisit the numbers later in the season. In the meantime, since I did all this research you’re getting to read about it anyway, even though at this time it doesn’t appear to mean anything.