Chicago Cubs: So, what went wrong for Willson?
After such a precipitous drop-off in personal production, it’s only natural to posit several different hypotheses or explanations for what happened. Maybe, Willson’s 2017 campaign was a flash in the pan (I find that hard to believe).
Perhaps, Contreras’ injury at the end of 2017 continued to hamstring him this year (Although, it didn’t seem like it). Maybe, his decline in hitting was just a function of bad timing, pitchers adjusting to him or bad luck. (Although his BABIP was a pretty similar .319 and .313 the last two years)
Or, perhaps the best explanation is that Willson started too many games early in the year and got worn down before he could even get going in 2018.
To examine the last and, to me, the most plausible explanation for Contreras’ decline in 2018, we need to delve into the numbers. In 2017, Willson started 16, 18, 19, and 21 games from April-July. During that same stretch in 2018, Willson started 22, 22, 20, and 18 games. That’s 11 more games he started early in the season in 2018 than 2017.
Overall, through July, that’s eight more games (as he actually started three more games in July in 2017 than he did in 2018; maybe that’s a reason for the breakdown and injury that occurred in early August though, as well?