Cubs News: Options at DH hope to give David Ross plenty

Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs, (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

With options galore at the Chicago Cubs designated hitter, David Ross hoping to mix and match for optimal production.

While the numbers out of the newly minted designated hitter spot haven’t been especially pretty so far for the Chicago Cubs. Their options in that spot certainly make it feel like that spot will be especially productive once all of the National League guys adjust to the different nature of that particular role.

Quite surprisingly (since the Cubs offense has put up 48 runs), in the eight games so far this season, Cubs hitters in the DH spot have combined to go just 6-for-28 (.214). However, the options who have taken turns in that role are a combined 18-for-59 (.305) when slotted in an actual defensive position on other nights.

Yup. In a nutshell, Victor Caratini, Jason Kipnis, Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras, and Josh Phegley (all of the guys who have been in the DH spot so far for the Cubs in 2020) have combined with being a phenomenal big league hitter so far this season when they play in the field. Yet, when any of them start in the DH slot, their production falls off… tremendously.

Well, everyone that is except for Kipnis– who, as coincidence would have it was in the American League last year. While Kipnis had only actually served as DH 37 times in his career before this season, it’s still more than any other Cub (For reference, Schwarber had only served as DH 22 times before this season).

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What do all the numbers mean, and how can we derive anything from this kind of small sample size? No one knows yet, and we can’t derive much- yet, that is. What we do know is that the DH role is different than any other position on the field and that most of these guys haven’t ever been asked to do it on a regular basis. In fact, plenty of players- both past and present- have gone on record as saying they don’t want to DH. Case in point: former Cub favorite from the end of last year, Nicholas Castellanos. Many have said that it takes a particular person to DH effectively.

It’s wholly possible that the Cubs, once hitters have acclimated to the role, will find their production while penciled into the DH spot mirroring their production while playing a position in the field. It’s also possible that the stats are an anomaly, discrepancy, or as noted before- a small sample size that you can’t work with yet statistically-speaking.

It stands to reason then, that whether the discrepancy between the DH production versus the hitters’ regular production is a result of an anomaly or discomfort in the role- the output will improve. It will either improve to the norms established by these hitters in general over their careers and during this particular season, or these guys will get better at adjusting to a role where they have to sit around a socially-distanced clubhouse for a couple of innings in between at-bats.

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For the Cubs and David Ross, though, it’s an incredible arsenal to have at your disposal. Being able to choose which set of weapons to deploy based on matchups, injuries, and scheduled rest makes the Cubs a formidable juggernaut on the offensive side- and they’re proving that so far this season- even without adequate production out of that DH slot.