The Cubs are making back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in 100 years, looking for their first World Series championship in a century as well after winning their second straight National League Central title. Chicago was the class of the NL for most of the season and finished with the league's best record.
The Cubs earned their 16th postseason appearance in 133 years and fourth since 1998. The 2007 Cubs were swept in the first round by the Diamondbacks, who were in turn swept in the NL Championship Series by the Rockies, who were in turn swept by the Red Sox in the World Series. The Cubs last made it past the NL Division Series in 2003, when they beat Atlanta in the first round, but were knocked out in a seven-game NLCS by the Marlins in the infamous Steve Bartman series.
By month: March 0-1, April 17-9, May 18-11, June 15-12, July 15-11, August 20-8, September 12-12.
Hard luck in Cubs' favor: The acquisition of right-hander Rich Harden from the Athletics July 8 gave the Cubs experience in rotation, even if they had to be careful about his pitch count. He was 5-1 with a 1.66 ERA for Chicago.
Big Z makes history: Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter on Sept. 14 vs. Houston at Miller Park was the first by a Cubs pitcher in 36 years. Zambrano was 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA in July, but he had struggled in August, going 1-1 with a 7.43 ERA. His start came after being sidelined with shoulder tendinitis.
Avg.: .278, 2nd in NL
Runs: 855, 1st in NL
HRs: 184, 5th in NL
OPS: .800, 1st in NL
Avg.: Ryan Theriot, .307
HRs: Alfonso Soriano, 29
RBIs: Aramis Ramirez, 111
Runs: Mark DeRosa, 103
OPS: Ramirez, .898
SB: Theriot, 22
The top hitting team in the NL was balanced from top to bottom. Speedy Soriano and Theriot set the table for Derrek Lee and Ramirez, just like last year. In the lower part of the order, the offense received new boosts from catcher Geovany Soto (.285, 23 HRs), second baseman DeRosa (.285, 21 HRs) and the center-field platoon of Edmonds and Johnson (26 HRs combined).
Overall ERA: 3.85, 3rd in NL
Starters ERA: 4.19, 2nd in NL
Bullpen ERA: 3.76, 3rd in NL
Strikeouts: 1,264, 1st in NL
HRs allowed: 160, tied for 6th fewest in NL
Opponents BA: .242, 1st in NL
Wins: Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster, 17
ERA (starter): Ryan Dempster, 2.96
ERA (reliever): Carlos Marmol, 2.68
Strikeouts: Ryan Dempster, 187
Saves: Kerry Wood, 34
Holds: Carlos Marmol, 30
HRs allowed: Ted Lilly, 32
Opponents BA: Ryan Dempster, .227
The Cubs consistently received six strong innings from their starters, and they had two of the best relievers in the league pitching in the eighth and ninth. Dempster, Lilly and Zambrano finished with at least 14 wins each, while midseason pickup Harden compiled a 1.66 ERA. Marmol led all relievers in strikeouts as the setup man for Kerry Wood, who made a smooth transition from starter to closer.
Errors: 99, 9th in NL
Defense wasn't a strong point for the Cubs, but it wasn't an Achilles' heel either. In left, Soriano was the biggest liability due to his poor instincts. However, right fielder Kosuke Fukudome was among the league's best all-around fielders. Utilityman DeRosa provided adequate defense at multiple infield and outfield spots.
May 27: Cubs 3, Dodgers 1 -- Sean Gallagher beats Dodgers with seven strong innings
May 28: Cubs 2, Dodgers 1 -- Soriano slaps walk-off single in 10th
June 5: Cubs 5, Dodgers 4 -- Fukudome rescues Cubs late
June 6: Dodgers 3, Cubs 0 -- Hiroki Kuroda tosses shutout to beat Gallagher
June 7: Dodgers 7, Cubs 3 -- Big Z loses game, is unhappy
June 8: Cubs 3, Dodgers 1 -- Marquis solid on Sunday Night Baseball
vs. Brewers: 9-7
vs. Dodgers: 5-2
vs. Rays: 0-3
vs. Red Sox: 0-0
vs. Angels: 0-0
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.