If the Chicago Cubs want to get back to there winning ways, they need to get back to doing the little details of the game at a high level.
Most Chicago Cubs fans remember how dominate the 2016 team was at about every aspect of the game. Great starting pitching, a lethal lineup from top to bottom, an above-average bullpen, but the one issue that doesn’t get talked about as much is the defense and baserunning. The Cub’s defense and baserunning in 2016 was elite. Historically, they were one of the best defensive teams since 1900, ranking behind only the 1939 Yankees.
We have seen the Cub’s defense steadily fall off since the 2016 season. It didn’t show up as much in 2017 and 2018 because of how elite the defense was in 2016, but in 2019 it was terrible. Just from the eye test and watching the games, it was awful baserunning mistakes, and sloppy errors seemed to happen all the time.
The advanced metric stats proved that the Cubs were not a good baserunning team and average at best defensively in 2019. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was not pleased one bit with how the team performed in those areas last season.
“I thought it was a massive failure the way we played defense and ran the bases. So I do feel the attention to detail was not there” h/t Brett Taylor, Bleacher Nation
So what has changed so much on a team that is, for the most part, the same team that was historically good in those areas just a few years ago? A lack of preparation could be part of the reason for the fall off. Javy Baez talked this offseason about how he felt like many of the guys, including himself, need to do a better job of preparing for games.
He spoke about how many of the pregame activities they had were optional, and guys decided not to go through with them. Now, this wasn’t a dig at former Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who, as we all know, has a very laid back approach at the game.
It does make you wonder, though, if the Cubs were more prepared for games if they would have been better at the little things in the game, which I feel like is a big reason for the hiring of David Ross, a more intense guy to get guys going.
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The Cubs will have to be better defensively and on the basepaths in 2020 if they want to compete. With the shortened schedule, it will be imperative to be locked into every single game and not make the sloppy mistakes that were made last season. It will be up to all the players and Ross to get them ready for each game of the sprint of a season we will have in 2020.