After watching his Chicago Cubs team go one-and-done in the postseason, Theo Epstein will likely have a busy offseason ahead of his, shoring up the offense.
The biggest note in Theo Epstein’s end-of-season presser is when he said the Chicago Cubs are now going to value production over talent. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez might be the only ones who are safe from the rumor mill this winter.
For context, the Cubs ranked second in the major leagues with 39 games scoring just one or fewer runs. That was a higher number than the Royals, White Sox and Marlins, two last-place finishers and another 100-loss team. The worst offenses in baseball by runs scored were the Marlins, Padres and Giants. The Cubs had more games of not scoring than all three of those clubs.
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On the season, the Cubs ranked ninth in baseball in runs scored, so that gives a bit of an idea how good this offense was in the first half of the season. They were fourth in MLB in on-base percentage, but were 22nd in the Majors in home runs, and that’s where the issue comes in. The power was completely zapped.
This team is, and has always been full of sluggers: Kyle Schwarber, Rizzo, Bryant, Baez and Happ can even be thrown in here, too. Willson Contreras had 21 homers in 2017 before an injury slowed him down late in the year. New hitting coach Chili Davis brought a lot of regression to this lineup, with guys like Happ and Albert Almora taking a step back. Contreras dropped down to just 10 homers.
This isn’t being written from a place of anger, more to say that changes do need to be made to the lineup. Addison Russell, who is not only on suspension for violating the league’s domestic abuse policy, has done nothing but regress (on and off the field) since a stellar 2016 season.
Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are the two big free agent targets this winter, and expect the Cubs to be on both of them. Andrew McCutchen, Michael Brantley, Yasmani Grandal and DJ LeMahieu are other names to watch this winter if the front office is serious about beefing up the offense.