The Cubs are making their 15th postseason appearance in the team's storied 132-year history, and third in the past 10 years, after winning the National League Central title. The Cubs became the first team in the Central to go from worst to first in back-to-back seasons after finishing the 2006 campaign last in the division with 96 losses.
Chicago's 99-year drought without a World Series championship has been well-documented, and it is the longest streak without a title of any Major League team. The Cubs won the 1907 and 1908 World Series, and last appeared there in 1945. In 2003, the Cubs were five outs away from the World Series before giving up eight runs in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the NL Championship Series against the Marlins. The Cubs lost Game 6 and Game 7, and the Marlins went on to win the World Series.
By month: April 10-14, May 12-15, June 17-11, July 17-9, August 12-16, September 17-12
The $300 million the Cubs spent in the offseason did not appear to pay immediate dividends, as the team struggled in April and May, and went 2-12 in one-run games. But then the season turned around following a players-only meeting at the end of May, a clubhouse fracas between Carlos Zambrano and catcher Michael Barrett on June 1, and manager Lou Piniella's only ejection of the season on June 2. The Cubs won five of their next six games, and finished 52-38 since June 23, the best record in the NL. They ended the regular season 23-22 in one-run games, but were only 2-8 in extra-inning games, the worst record in the Major Leagues.
Avg.: .271, 7th in NL
Runs: 752, 8th in NL
HRs: 151, 11th in NL
OPS: .755, 8th in NL
The Cubs' offense appeared to be built for power, but it was not until September that they began hitting home runs the way they were expected. Chicago hit 13 home runs in July, and 19 in August, before belting a franchise-record 45 in September. The Cubs also led the National League with 340 doubles.
Avg.: Derrek Lee .317, 11th in NL
HRs: Alfonso Soriano 33, tied for 8th in NL
RBIs: Aramis Ramirez 101, 16th in NL
Runs: Alfonso Soriano 97, 18th in NL
OPS: Aramis Ramirez .918, 13th in NL
SB: Ryan Theriot 28, 12th in NL
Soriano's home run success more or less mirrored that of the team. In April, when the Cubs hit 19 homers, tied for their second-lowest month of the season, Soriano had zero long balls. He was named NL Player of the Month in June after hitting 11 of the Cubs' 30 homers. And in September, he had 14 home runs, including a Major League-record seven leadoff shots. Ramirez had a knack for clutch hits all season, highlighted by his walk-off home run June 29 at Wrigley Field against the then-division-leading Brewers, and he finished with a .312 average and 26 home runs.
Overall ERA: 4.04, 2nd in NL
Starters ERA: 4.19, 2nd in NL
Bullpen ERA: 3.75, 3rd in NL
Strikeouts: 1,211, 1st in NL
HRs allowed: 165, tied for 6th fewest in NL
Opponents BA: .246, 1st in NL
The Cubs used eight starters all season, one year after 15 pitchers made appearances in the rotation. Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, and Rich Hill each started at least 32 games, marking the first time since 1977 the Cubs had four pitchers each make that many starts. The team also led the Major Leagues in strikeouts for the seventh consecutive season.
Wins: Carlos Zambrano 18, tied for 2nd in NL
ERA (starter): Ted Lilly 3.83, 23rd in NL
ERA (reliever): Carlos Marmol 1.43, 3rd in NL
Strikeouts: Rich Hill 183, 5th in NL
Saves: Ryan Dempster 28, 10th in NL
Holds: Bob Howry 23, tied for 8th in NL
HRs allowed: Ted Lilly 28, tied for 8th most in NL
Opponents BA: Carlos Zambrano .233, 8th in NL
Zambrano had his highs -- a 5-1 July with a 1.38 ERA to earn NL Pitcher of the Month honors -- and his lows -- an 0-4 August with a 7.06 ERA, as well as the Barrett fracas -- but the Cubs' ace still finished with a career high in wins. Marmol was recalled from Triple-A Iowa on May 18, and quickly established himself as one of the most reliable relievers in the league. Scott Eyre had an 0.84 ERA in 27 appearances after the All-Star break, and the 'pen got a welcome addition in Kerry Wood, who made his 2007 debut Aug. 5, and continued to get better as the season progressed.
Fielding percentage: .984, tied for 6th in the NL
Errors: 94, tied for 6th fewest in NL
The Cubs finished in the middle of the pack in fielding in the National League, but it was their defense that provided some of the team's biggest highlights, and most impactful plays, during the season. Chicago finished with 12 fewer errors than in 2006.
1B Derrek Lee, .994, tied for 3rd among NL first basemen
3B Aramis Ramirez, .972, 3rd among third basemen in NL
Soriano was tied for the Major League lead in outfield assists with 19, while Ramirez's fielding percentage was a career high. Mark DeRosa, who spent the majority of the season as the team's second baseman, might have been the most valuable player on defense after spending time at first, third, shortstop, and in left and right field. Jacque Jones committed only four errors with a .986 fielding percentage in center and right field, while Ryan Theriot compiled a .980 fielding percentage in 107 games at shortstop. Cliff Floyd was errorless in 63 games in right.
Game by game
July 20: Cubs 6, D-backs 2 -- Marquis gets best of reigning Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb
July 21: D-backs 3, Cubs 2 -- Howry gives up deciding homer to Stephen Drew in the eighth
July 22: D-backs 3, Cubs 0 -- Cubs get four hits, waste Sean Marshall's quality start
August 24: Cubs 6, D-backs 2 -- Jones goes 4-for-5 with a run and an RBI in the win
August 25: D-backs 3, Cubs 1 -- Cubs batters struggle against Arizona's Doug Davis
August 26: D-backs 5, Cubs 4 -- Lee's inside-the-park homer not enough offense for Cubs
The Cubs' starting pitchers fared well against the D-backs, but were frequently the victims of little run support. The offense backed Marquis and Marshall with 12 runs in their two wins, but combined to put up seven total runs in their four losses. Theriot hit .273 (6-for-22) with four runs and four walks against the D-backs this season.
vs. D-backs: 2-4
vs. Padres: 3-5
vs. Rockies: 5-2
The Rockies are the only playoff contender whom the Cubs had a winning record against in 2007. Chicago was 32-37 against teams with an above-.500 record, with 18 of those wins coming at Wrigley Field. They were 53-39 against sub-.500 teams.
Bob Howry (2 G, 0-0, 3.38 ERA, has four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings pitched)
Ted Lilly (4 G, 0-1, 4.15 ERA, had a 13.50 ERA in two postseason games in 2002 with Oakland, but a 0.00 ERA in two appearances, one start, in 2003)
Jason Marquis (9 G, 0-2, 4.57 ERA, was on 2006 World Series champion Cardinals, but did not pitch in the postseason)
Steve Trachsel (2 G, 0-1, 14.54 ERA, gave up five runs in one inning during the 2006 NLCS while with the New York Mets)
Kerry Wood (5 G, 2-2, 3.86 ERA, took the loss for the Cubs in Game 7 of the 2003 NLCS)
Carlos Zambrano (3 G, 0-1, 5.40 ERA, gave up four home runs to the Marlins in the 2003 NLCS)
Henry Blanco (.214, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, has three hits in six career playoff games)
Mark DeRosa (.368, 0 HR, 5 RBIs, four of seven career postseason hits went for extra bases)
Cliff Floyd (.286, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, hit .444 (4-for-9) with the Mets in the 2006 NLCS)
Jacque Jones (.197, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 15 hits and 23 strikeouts in 18 playoff games with the Twins)
Jason Kendall (.258, 0 HR, 1 RBIs, started all seven games for the Oakland Athletics in the 2006 ALDS and ALCS)
Derrek Lee (.208, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 17 strikeouts in 17 games with Marlins in 2003 playoffs)
Craig Monroe (.240, 5 HR, 9 RBIs, nine extra-base hits in 2006 playoffs for the Tigers, including two home runs in the World Series)
Aramis Ramirez (.250, 4 HR, 10 RBIs, three home runs, one triple, and five walks in 2003 NLCS with Cubs)
Alfonso Soriano (.233, 4 HR, 18 RBIs, most playoff experience on Cubs with 38 career postseason games with the Yankees)
Daryle Ward (.222, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, two home runs with the Astros are only career playoff hits)
Ramirez, Wood, and Zambrano are the only current Cubs from the 2003 NLCS team, and only Wood and Trachsel were with the Cubs in 1998 when they won the NL Wild Card. Floyd and Lee both won World Series championships with the Marlins -- Floyd in 1997, and Lee in 2003. Soriano faced Lee and the Marlins in the 2003 World Series, and in 2001, lost in seven games to the Diamondbacks. Eyre, Marquis, and Monroe are the only other current Cubs to reach the World Series.
Marc Zarefsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.