Chicago Cubs: Week 1 spring training report
So Far, So Good (Mostly)
Speaking in terms of results, the Cubs have lost only one of their first seven spring contests (winning 4 and tying in 2). This is a good start. But we all know how little spring records matter. In short, don’t pay too much attention to the won-loss record, it isn’t very instructional.
What IS instructional is paying attention to the details and context of those wins. When inspecting the spring to this level of detail, you’ll find a lot of good signs and a few not-so-good.
With runners in scoring position, the Cubs are third in the league in batting average and have the second-best OBA. Maddon has stressed that (new hitting coach) Chili Davis would bring a different approach. Davis emphasizes approach – as this story from The Athletic describes – and this change appears to be paying dividends.
Tough to Get a Read on Pitchers
Regarding pitching, the Cubs are not overwhelmingly impressive. Their ERA is firmly middle of the league, and they are near the bottom in baserunners allowed. All this said it’s one week into Spring Training. I’m not even sure the pitchers are throwing at 100% at this point.
There is some reason for optimism. Once Cubs pitchers get opposing batters to 2 strike counts, they are striking out their opponents quite regularly (64 of 66 0-2 or 1-2 counts have ended in a K). They also aren’t losing too many batters that get behind in the count. In short, pitchers are hitting their spots when it matters most. This was a point of emphasis this offseason, so these results are encouraging.