As we saw at times in 2016, the powerful, albeit young, Chicago Cubs’ offense is going to go through growing pains. That hasn’t changed, even after winning a World Series title.
Despite putting up runs at a historic pace last season, the Chicago Cubs’ bats saw their ups-and-downs. There’s no two ways around that fact.
Even in the postseason, the offense was back-and-forth, eventually firing on all cylinders in the final two games of the Fall Classic. But all’s well that ends well, right? Still, there are more than a handful of fans who are worried about the team’s offense – juts eight games in.
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The Cubs own the tenth-worst OPS in all of Major League Baseball. Chicago ranks 23rd in the league in runs and their three big bats – Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant – are all batting under .250.
In Wednesday’s game against Los Angeles, the Cubs mustered all of five hits in a shutout loss to right-hander Brandon McCarthy.
"“Against a lineup like that, they’ll take their walks all day,” McCarthy told MLB.com. “They’re unbelievably disciplined. You have to be able to come into the zone to get results. We had to go with our best stuff and see how it matched up.”"
Cubs struggling to drive the ball
Chicago drew just three walks, striking out nine times in the loss. At the top of the order, Schwarber went 0-for-3 with a trio of whiffs and one walk. As a team, the Cubs went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Everyone knows what this club is capable of. Bryant is a reigning MVP, Rizzo finished in the top five of NL voting yet again and Schwarber is a prime candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. That’s not to mention talents like Willson Contreras, Addison Russell or Jason Heyward, who carries a .296 average into Thursday’s finale at Wrigley.
The simple truth, though, is that Chicago isn’t driving the ball with authority. The Cubs rank 26th in baseball in extra-base hits, 25th in slugging percentage and 27th in home runs. Those trends aren’t going to continue for an entire season.
There are promising signs. The Cubs’ seemingly endless patience at the dish continues from last season. The team is fourth among National League clubs in on-base percentage. Even with an 0-for-2 night Wednesday, Bryant drew a pair of walks, raising his OBP to .385 on the young season.
Cold spells happen. If this team were flailing at pitches out of the zone, not drawing walks and looking lost, I might show more concern. But the numbers paint a very different picture. The Cubs haven’t started to drive the ball yet, but when they do, this offense will be a juggernaut awakened.