Will small-ball be the way to play instead of looking for home runs?
Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon has always been a fan of small-ball – whether it’s moving the runners along with good hitting, a sacrifice bunt, steals, anything to get the inning alive and keeping guys on base. It was the strategy that was used in his days with the Angels and one he also took with him while managing the Rays. So it would only make sense that he would play the same game now in Chicago.
The recent history of the Cubs has always shown the team as a high home run rate team – over the past five seasons they have averaged seventh in baseball in home runs hit.
Lou Piniella did talk about that type of style when he was the manager of the Cubs, but he didn’t have the personnel for it. The teams he had were power hitting teams led by Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Alfonso Soriano.
Even with hitters like Jorge Soler, Anthony Rizzo, and eventually Kris Bryant – the long ball will be prevalent with the Cubs and no one will complain about seeing the amount of home runs those guys will hit.
But as every Cubs player, manager, and fan knows that when those Wrigley Field winds are swirling – there aren’t many players capable of hitting them out of the park. This is when practicing the small-ball mentality now will pay off later.
Starlin Castro who will probably be the fourth hitter in the lineup will thrive in my opinion with this style of play. He’s never been a big power hitter, but he has a very good line drive swing – perfect for Maddon’s style. Even with Soler’s power, he has shown how good he is at hitting liners as well.
I don’t see the Cubs ever fully adopting the small-ball ability like the Angels or Rays – especially with the young power hitters they have but I do see it being a part of their game when the situation calls for it.
Whether that be because of the winds or the pitcher on the mound.
Not being a one-dimensional team on offense will only bring more wins to the team a lot quicker and also help out the pitchers and bullpen by scoring runs consistently.