Cubs

By the numbers: How 2017 Cubs measure up to last year's hot start

By the numbers: How 2017 Cubs measure up to last year's hot start

The Cubs woke up Friday morning with a 17-17 record and roughly 20 percent of their schedule in the rearview mirror.

Typically, Memorial Day Weekend is the first true checkpoint to assess MLB teams as contenders or pretenders, but as the Cubs head to St. Louis to take on their rival Cardinals, there's a sense of urgency surrounding Joe Maddon's squad (and in an anxious fanbase).

After a rough start to 2017, the Cardinals currently lead the National League Central with a 19-14 record, 2.5 games ahead of the fourth-place Cubs.

The Cubs clearly have not hit their stride yet and the roster is still rife with so much talent and proven track records that there really is no reason to panic in mid-May so long as everybody remains relatively healthy.

[CubsTalk Podcast: Fergie Jenkins and why there's no need to panic...yet]

But the numbers are a bit astounding when you compare the 2017 Cubs to the 2016 iteration that got out to a blazing-hot start en route to the organization's first World Series championship in 108 years:

.500

That's the winning percentage the Cubs woke up with Friday morning. In 2016, the winning percentage stood at .765 thanks to a 26-8 start through the first 34 games.

5

The number of Cubs regulars — Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, Willson Contrears — hitting below .250. Javy Baez and Jason Heyward (both with .253 averages) aren't much beyond that mark.

Of course, batting average isn't everything, but the Cubs also have five regulars posting an OPS south of .700: Zobrist (.698), Heyward (.697), Schwarber (.696), Russell (.652) and Contreras (.630).

As of Friday, the Cubs' most valuable offensive players currently rank: Kris Bryant, Miguel Montero, Albert Almora Jr. and Jon Jay. Not what anybody was expecting coming out of spring training.

27

The number of Cubs errors in 2017, ranking 25th in baseball. The 2016 Cubs were quite possibly the best defensive team in the history of the game, so some regression was to be expected. But defense is also the only facet of the game that can be slump-proof and yet the Cubs have gotten some shaky fielding thus far in 2017.

13

That's the total mark of quality starts from the Cubs rotation in 2017, which sits 23rd in MLB. Through 34 games in 2016, the rotation posted 25 quality starts.

4.56

The ERA for Cubs starting pitchers in 2017. That number is obviously weighed down by Brett Anderson's 8.18 mark across his 22 innings before he hit the disabled list, but Anderson isn't the only culprit. Jake Arrieta's ERA sits at 5.35 after his rough outing in Coors Field this week while John Lackey (4.29) has also performed under expectations to date (despite making history earlier in the week).

[RELATED - Ben Zobrist breaks down the 2017 Cubs so far]

The Cubs' defensive issues have certainly impacted the whole "run prevention" area, but Cubs starters have also allowed 41 first-inning runs this season, putting the offense in immediate "catch-up" mode.

In 2016, the Cubs rotation carried a 2.26 ERA through 34 games.

8

That's the Cubs' run differential this season as they've scored 166 runs compared to 158 allowed.

At this point last season, people were pegging the Cubs to break the all-time run differential record as they stood +104 with 205 runs scored and 101 allowed.

7-9

The Cubs aren't feeling the home cooking this year with just a 7-9 record at Wrigley Field (they went 13-5 through this point in 2016). Of course, the weather has been a factor, as 11 of the 16 games played at "The Friendly Confines" have come with the temperature below 50 degrees at first pitch.

The 2017 Cubs are 10-8 on the road, compared to their 13-3 mark away from home a year ago.

10-8

That's the Cubs' record against NL Central opponents, compared to the 14-2 mark they posted up against the division through the 2016's first six weeks.

Of course, the NL Central has gotten out to a hot start as the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers — both rebuilding — sit above .500 entering the weekend.

Dexter Fowler was racially profiled by nightclub while with Cubs teammates

Dexter Fowler was racially profiled by nightclub while with Cubs teammates

Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler shared a story on his Instagram Tuesday of a time he was racially profiled while at a club with his then-Cubs teammates.

Fowler, who played on the North Side from 2015-16, explained how he wasn't allowed into a club in Arizona with other members of the Cubs because he was wearing a gold chain. He said he was dressed nice and added the profiling of his attire didn't apply to his teammates, some who were dressed more casually.

When the club turned Fowler away, the group, which included first baseman Anthony Rizzo, left to show their support for him.

'What can I do'

Let me tell you a little story

A club in AZ turned me away because I had a gold chain on. While my friends had on shorts & vans & flip flops.

I was dressed nicely.

[Anthony Rizzo] and my friends with the [Cubs] left the club for me.

That's what you can do. Every day. It happens. EVERY DAY. There are opportunities EVERY DAY to help enforce change.

Fowler has been outspoken on social media regarding racial profiling amid nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. He described the hardships black people endure due to racism in a heartfelt Instagram post on Thursday.

View this post on Instagram

Here’s the thing. I know it’s hard to fully grasp why black people are outraged. It’s hard to grasp unless you’ve seen people hold their purses tighter when you walk by, when you have people refer to you as “not black” when you’re not “ghetto”. When your parents have to give you a talk when you’re just a kid. “you can’t act like your white friends. you’ll get killed. they won’t” This is a generational discussion EVERY black family has. It terrifies you as a kid, and as an adult. You don’t understand why we know, those officers didn’t flinch at murdering that man, because he is black. The race card. We hold it. You tell us “it’s not about race” if we ever hold you to it. You don’t want us to have even that 1 bone chilling “privilege” of defense. You don’t want us to hold any privilege. We don’t hold the privilege of being a criminal, making a mistake, or simply taking a jog, the same as a white man, and being treated the same. He couldn’t breathe. He was murdered. They were gently fired from their jobs. This isn’t right. This can’t go on. (if you assume “you”, is you, and you’re upset about the generalization...... just think about that for a second)

A post shared by Dexter Fowler (@dexterfowler) on

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts 'optimistic' 2020 MLB season will happen

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts 'optimistic' 2020 MLB season will happen

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts expressed confidence MLB and the players union will come to terms for a 2020 season despite his suggestion some teams might lose more money playing even a short season than by not playing at all.

"I'm pretty optimistic we'll get games back on the field," Ricketts told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers on Tuesday. "I have full faith and confidence in the commissioner. How we get there is yet to be written, but I'm pretty sure we'll get there."

RELATED: Why Scott Boras' comments on Cubs suggest optimism MLB, union can make deal

Ricketts isn’t the only owner to suggest in recent weeks it makes more financial sense to not play this season. The players are seeking their full prorated salaries, which they agreed to take in March. The owners, however, have cited a clause in that agreement where they can reopen negotiations if games are played without fans. That is the expectation for most of the season (should the two sides come to terms) due to the coronavirus.

Ricketts said MLB owners aren’t looking at not playing, however, echoing comments he made on CNBC last week stating the Cubs “definitely” would rather play.

"There are scenarios where not playing at all can be a better financial option, but we're not looking at that," Ricketts told Rogers. "We want to play. We want to get back on the field. ... I'm not aware of any owners that don't want to play. 

“We just want to get back on the field in a way that doesn't make this season financially worse for us."

The league sent the union its financial proposal for 2020 last Tuesday, and the players countered with a proposal on Sunday to play 114 games compared to the owners’ 82-game plan. The aforementioned March agreement allows the league to mandate a shorter season if it sees fit.

RELATED: How deferrals in MLBPA counterproposal could provide Cubs financial relief

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Monday MLB could propose something along the lines of a 50-60 game season in which they’d pay players prorated salaries. That would still represent a pay cut for the players, however. In any case, a shortened season means significant revenue losses for the league.

"The scale of losses across the league is biblical," Ricketts said. "The timing of the work stoppage, the inability to play was right before the season started. We're looking at 30 teams with zero revenue. To cover the losses, all teams have gone out and borrowed. There's no other way to do it in the short run. In the long run, we may be able to sell equity to cover some of our losses but that's in the long run.”

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.