When you think of rivalries in the Major Leagues, don’t forget about the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs and Pirates have played more games against one another than any other duo in professional baseball history dating back to 1887. The Cubs and Pirates both have other rivals that get their attention as well, but this one can’t be ignored.
Both franchises have incredible history, and both teams play in terrific baseball cities. Odds are that you have heard of some of the best players to ever come out of this rivalry no matter which side you are on. The Pirates and Cubs also squared off in an epic Wild Card Game in 2015, which reignited this long standing rivalry. The Cubs have the Cardinals and the Pirates have the Phillies, but Chicago and Pittsburgh will always have a rivalry.
History of Cubs and Pirates Rivalry
The Cubs and Pirates first met way back in 1887 when the two teams were known as the Chicago White Stockings and the Pittsburgh Alleghenys. The Allegheny’s won the first four games they ever played against the White Stockings, but the two franchises have been extremely competitive ever since. The team in Pittsburgh changed their name to the Pirates in 1891 and the name has stuck ever since. Chicago officially changed their team name to the Cubs in 1903 after messing around with a few different nicknames throughout the years.
The Pirates and Cubs have played more than 2,500 games against each other throughout their history, and the Pirates have had the upper hand. Pittsburgh has won 1,279 games against Chicago, with the Cubs franchise recording 1,218 victories. As you might imagine, each team has had more success in their home ballparks. The Pirates and Cubs have met just one time in the playoffs in 2015, which resulted in a Wild Card victory by the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park.
The Pittsburgh Pirates franchise dates back to 1882, and they joined the National League in 1897. The Pirates have played in six different stadiums in Pittsburgh but have been at PNC Park since 2001. Pittsburgh was one of the most successful franchises in the National League in the mid 1900’s, but they have fallen on tough times of late. The Pirates did make a late charge earlier this decade, but lack of attendance and a low payroll have kept them back. Roberto Clemente is undoubtedly the most famous Pittsburgh Pirates player of all time, and he is honored in and around the current stadium in Pittsburgh.
The Chicago Cubs were one of the charter members of the National League when they joined as the Chicago White Stockings back in 1876. The team has played in a total of seven different stadiums in their history, but they have been in Wrigley Field since 1916.
The Cubs were one of the best teams in professional baseball through the 1908 season, but then went through a century of tough times and multiple “curses.” The Chicago Tribune company owned and operated the Cubs from 1981-2008 before eventually selling the team to the Ricketts Family, who still own the team to this day. The Cubs have had several legendary players wear their uniform, most notably Ernie Banks and Ryne Sandberg.
Head to Head Comparison of Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates have won five World Series Championships while the Cubs have won just three. The Pirates’ last championship was in 1979 with the “We are Family” team, and the Cubs were the champs in 2016. Pittsburgh has yet to win the National League Central Division since the creation in 1994, but the Cubs have five such division titles. Chicago has won the National League Pennant a whopping 17 times, while the Pirates have been champions of the National League just nine times. Both the Cubs and Pirates have great representation in the Hall of Fame, with 15 players donning a Cubs cap and 13 players wearing the cap of the Pirates.
A Look at Cubs vs. Pirates Last 20 Games
Taking a look at the last 20 games between the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates takes us back to the final matchup of the 2017 regular season and the entire 2018 regular season. The Cubs had a slim lead over the Pirates in their last 20 games, winning 11 games while losing just nine. Pittsburgh did win four straight games against the Cubs late in the season despite being out of the playoff race.
The Central division rivals split the ten games between each other at Wrigley Field, which is the home of the Cubs. Chicago actually fared well at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, winning six of the ten games played in the Pirates home ballpark. Taking a look at the runs scored between the two teams over the last 20 games can give us predictions for the upcoming season.
The Chicago Cubs put up 77 total runs against the Pirates in their last 20 games while holding Pittsburgh to just 66 total runs. The Cubs got the better of the Pirates in the last 20 games, but odds are that the Pirates will return the favor in the near future.
Detailed Series Splits For Cubs-Pirates Rivalry
Just looking at the game by game results doesn’t always tell the whole story, especially in rivalry games. The Cubs were a better team during the 2018 season, so it was easy to make a prediction that they would be better than the Pirates. But, looking at the run totals for each game can help us make some betting predictions for the 2019 season.
The Cubs and Pirates went over the run total just 6 times during the 2018 season, while going under a whopping 13 times. This is more than just a fluke thing, and this is something that should continue in the upcoming season. Each game during the 2018 regular season had a spread of 1.5 runs either way. The Pirates were able to cover the spread nine times when they had +1.5 odds, but did it just once with odds of -1.5. Chicago was much better as the favorite in this matchup, covering 1.5 runs six different times in 2018.