Saturday, September 3, 2016

History Is Happening

No matter what else happens this year, most outside the fanbase will measure the Chicago Cubs' season purely by whether the team wins the World Series.

The postseason is a crap shoot.  As an incredibly talented and deep team, the Cubs may dominate.  Or they may get cold and bow out in the NLDS.

If Cubs fans were singularly focused on championships, well, then they would not be Cubs fans for long.

The history matters.  The statistics matter.  Even more so in the context of this franchise with deep wells of comparison for supporters to run through.

As Addison Russell drove in the game-winning run on Thursday night against the Giants, it suddenly made September slightly more interesting.  At 88 runs batted in for the season, Russell is in unique company among Cubs' shortstops.  But comparisons to Ernie Banks are tough.

If Russell reaches the 100 rbi plateau over the last games of this year -- a mark that seems entirely reasonable -- it should mean more than another reminder of how exceptional Ernie Banks was in the history of the franchise.  Anthony Rizzo has 93 rbis and Kris Bryant has 91.  If Russell reaches the 100 rbi mark, he will likely be doing so with both Rizzo and Bryant.

That hasn't happened in my lifetime.  Maybe this will end up like 2004, when Moises Alou led the team with 106 rbis, Aramis Ramirez had 103 rbis, and Derrek Lee had 98.  Before that the closest I had ever seen a trio of Cubs reach the same heights was in 1984 -- Ron Cey (97); Leon Durham (96); and Jody Davis (94).

The Cubs haven't had three players with 100 rbis in a season since 1970.  Billy Williams drove in 129 runs that year, Jim Hickman added 115, and Ron Santo had 114.

As a kid, the promise of a team with that kind of offensive firepower was conceivable only by virtue of the baseball cards I studied while watching my Cubbies getting crushed on WGN.  Now, it is particularly enjoyable watching it happen on the field in front of you.  

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