When Will Off-Track Betting Come Back to Champaign, Illinois?

The recent track record of the Iowa Cubs proves that being a little off can lead to big rewards. After starting the 2020 season with 13 wins in their first 15 games, the team has stumbled a bit since then, losing 11 of their last 16 games, including 6 of their last 8. It’s not as though the team is bad — they’re still ranked 12th in the MLB in terms of wOBA — but it’s also not as though they’re good, either. The middle ground of.500 ball is where they currently sit, which is respectable, but not great. The important thing is that this is a team that has always been a little bit off, which is how they were able to accumulate a lot of success in the first place.

The Cubbies Were Probably Due For An Overperformance

One of the things that makes the Cubs so unique and intriguing is that, for the most part, they were probably overperforming in 2019. Looking back at their win/loss record, you’ll see that they had many more wins than would be expected of a team with their won/lost record. The fact that they performed so well without Chris Sale and Jose Quintana is even more impressive when you consider that they were missing two of their most important players. The two that were on the field when the season began were, in fact, two of the greatest overperformers of all time in Carl Yastrzemski and Albert Pujols. The duo combined for an amazing.945 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which is almost unheard of, and the team as a whole was fortunate to have them both while they were on the squad. The only other time that two players posted an OPS+ above 140 was when the Yankees had Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle on their roster at the same time. It seems unreal that a team would have two players with a combined age of 140 going into the final season of their contract, but that’s the unique situation the Cubs found themselves in.

Now They’re Just One of Many Average Teams

There are several reasons why the Cubs overperformed in 2019. The first is that a lot of good fortune came their way in a relatively meaningless final season for the legendary Yastrzemski. The second is that it was just plain unlucky for the rotation, which is always a concern when you don’t have a ton of talent at the top. The last is that their farm system, which was already lacking in talent, took a hit when the Cubs traded away top prospects Victor Berazza and Brendon Harris. The return they received for them was basically just another player with major league experience, which is something that the Cubs could have used a lot more of. Even after that trade, however, they still had several prospects that belonged in the majors, including Alec Hansen, who was the minor league player of the year, and Alec Asher, who was named the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Things aren’t looking up for the Cubs, as the lack of top-notch pitching is going to be an uphill battle, especially with an injury-riddled pitching market as dismal as the one that we’ve seen the last couple of months.

When Will Off-Track Betting Come Back To Champaign?

The best thing the Cubs can do for themselves is to go back to their roots and rebuild their farm system from the ground up. It’s no secret that the front office hasn’t been afraid to dump money into the team’s scouting department in order to upgrade the player pool, and they should continue doing that, even if it’s just to invest in more scouting and more development. A lot of their problem stems from the fact that they have a lot of good players, but they don’t necessarily have a lot of good players period. The last thing that they need is a ton of average players, which is why they need to be selective in the drafts and not just pick anyone up off the free-agent market. As exciting as it is to see players such as Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Paul Goldschmidt play on a nightly basis, it’s also important to remember that they are not the norm and, at least for now, probably won’t ever be accepted as such. They need to keep looking for that one guy who is going to blow us away and change the way that we think about their position — and, in turn, the game as a whole.