A road trip is not a bad thing for the 2016 Cubs

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PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 04: Ben Zobrist #18 of the Chicago Cubs is greeted by teammates as he crosses home plate after hitting a three run home run in the third inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 4, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – In 2016, all confines are friendly for Joe Maddon’s team.

In fact getting farther away from the place given that nickname has actually been more hospitable for the team.

That’s just the kind of year it’s been on the north side of Chicago.

Maybe that’s why the Cubs nor their fans are exactly dreading the thought of a nine-game road trip ahead of them over the next week-and-a-half.

So far the Cubs have posted an impressive 13-3 record away from Wrigley Field this season. That included winning 5 of 6 games away from home to start the season against the Angels and Diamondbacks.

That momentum carried from April into May with the Cubs sweeping away the Pirates in three games at PNC Park. Going into this week’s three-game series in Milwaukee, the Cubs have won four-straight on the road and eight of their last ten dating back to April 18th.

It’s a big reason why the team sits at the top of the Major League Baseball standings with a 27-9 record-four games better than their nearest competitor.

It’s why Joe Maddon wasn’t upset after his team lost their homestand finale with Pittsburgh on Sunday, though it’s hard for him not to be in a cheery mood these days.

“The wind’s not going to be blowing in. That will be the biggest difference,” said Maddon of leaving Wrigley Field. “Love playing here, we all love playing here, but then it’s nice to get away from it then come back to it.

“You don’t want to play all home games. You don’t want to play all away games.”

The next nine will be the latter with the competition getting tougher with each three-game series. Struggling Milwaukee currently sits 12 games behind the Cubs in the NL Central but San Francisco is at the top of the NL West and host Chicago this weekend.

Next Monday the team starts a three-game series with the rival Cardinals in St. Louis, the second visit they’ve made to Missouri this season.

Still Maddon might actually prefer to be away from home considering the Cubs’ remarkable success on the road. The Cubs have scored six more runs (110) in 16 road games than they have in 20 home games so far this season.

Cubs hitters are hitting .284 on the road this season which is much better than their .245 average at home. Similar advantages can be found in on base percentage (.376 on the road compared to .356 at home) and slugging percentage (.475 on the road, .398 at home).

Pitchers have enjoyed the same bump in road games with a .41 improvement in ERA (2.41 compared to 2.82) while holding hitters to a .198 average when they visit their ballpark.

All of these reasons have made the Cubs the MLB’s best road team this season. Only Seattle (13-6) can compare to the Cubs’ dominance on the road this season.

“You always want to play at home but you’re always excited to get after it and get back to winning,” said Fowler when asked about the ten days ahead of the Cubs after Sunday’s loss to the Pirates.

Luckily for him, winning has been something the team has done away from their Friendly Confines just fine in 2016.