Chicago Cubs struggles come down to hitting with RISP

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The home run is fun. The Chicago Cubs hit a lot of them. But sometimes you need a hit with a man on, and the Cubs are failing at this.

The Chicago Cubs have a potent offense, this we know. Currently, the Cubs have eight players forecasted to hit 20 home runs. Four players already have 15 or more. And the Cubs are fifth in the National League with 359 runs scored. But don’t let those numbers fool you. This offense has some holes in it. Overall, they’re a solid offensive team. But as of late, it’s been ‘home run or bust,’ and they’ve busted–mostly on the road.

The loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers last night dropped them to 14-20 in road games. Our Jacob Misener pointed out this isn’t necessarily on the offense, but they can’t be let off the hook that easily. While the pitching has struggled away from Wrigley, the offense has had its issues away from the Friendly Confines. More specifically, hitting with runners in scoring position.

The Cubs are 24th in the league in BA w/RISP. Teams like the Miami Marlins, Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians are some of the teams few below them. The Cubs are hitting home runs at a furious pace, and whatever the reason, we don’t often care. But RISP has become a clear issue that the Cubs will need to address.

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The Cubs have hit 47 home runs with men on base according to Baseball Reference, which has accounted for 282 of their runs. The team has scored 347 runs total. The team hits home runs, and that’s great. But Joe Maddon realizes they’re letting teams back into games.

"“We’re letting them back in and then they’re just holding on,” Maddon said. “We have to continue to churn out runs game in progress. I think we lose patience during the game. I’ve talked about that. I think we have to maintain our patience.” h/t Jordan Bastain,"

The Cubs have four players with over 20 RBI with RISP. Willson Contreras (.327, 22 RBI), Javier Baez (.303, 28 RBI), David Bote (.293, 25 RBI) and Anthony Rizzo (265, 25 RBI). Daniel Descalso is near the top of that list with a .323 and 13 RBI. But lately, he couldn’t hit water if he fell off a boat, so much of those numbers are from earlier in the season.

The team is going to have to find a way to manufacture runs. I see a lot of fans that claim that Maddon doesn’t play ‘small ball.’ He does, but most managers like their hitters to swing away. Maddon is no different. But in this case, it may be time to call for some more hit and run, straight steals and sacrifice bunts when the Cubs get a jump as they did on Clayton Kershaw and add to the lead.

Instead, the Cubs bats went silent after the first few innings, and they lost the opener. They had the jump on Rich Hill, as well. And still, they couldn’t add on to the lead with one of their best pitchers on the mound.

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The switch from Chili Davis (situational hitting) to Anthony Iapoce (launch angle, exit velo) has been apparent. But I think the Chicago Cubs would do a bit of good to remember a little of what Davis preached and apply it today.