Chicago Cubs News: For the team? Patience is a virtue

(Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /

One of the benchmarks of the Chicago Cubs over the last five to six years is their ability to take pitches and work at-bats. The 2020 team is right back at it; grinding pitcher’s out.

Per Baseball-Reference, the Chicago Cubs lead the league in pitches seen per plate appearance, at 4.2. Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo led the way with 4.63 and 4.57, respectively. This isn’t surprising since these two have always been patient hitters and aren’t afraid to take their walks. Their P/PA numbers rank in the Top 6 of all MLB hitters.

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The patience paid off in a big way earlier this week when the Cubs took whatever they wanted from the Indians pitching staff. Cleveland had yet to give up more than four runs in any game this year, and the Cubs had no trouble scoring seven runs both nights in 7-1 and 7-2 wins. Carlos Carrasco has a career walk rate of just 2.2 BB/9 IP, and the Cubs had him out of the game in the fifth inning after drawing five walks and finally broke through in that fifth inning.

Last season, the league average of P/PA was 3.93, and the Cubs were below league average at 3.89. In 2016, the team averaged just 3.96 P/PA, but they saw the most pitches of any team in the Majors. Their patience obviously led them to a World Series, and pitcher’s eventually wearing down throughout the game.

Dexter Fowler led the team in pitches seen per plate appearance at 4.4, which was good for fourth in the Majors and second in the National League. The team swung at the third least amount of pitches in the NL, at 45.8 percent. In 2020, that number is 42.1 percent. In 2019, they swung at 47.3 percent.

Typically, numbers like that would normalize out over a 162-game season, but maybe not through 60 games. If they keep this same intensity overall 60 games (or however many they play due to COVID-19), they will be tough to beat.

The patience has contributed to the fast start, and the Cubs have put themselves in a comfortable position atop the division with at least a 5.5 game lead on the other foes. The Cardinals have not played in almost three weeks, and are just five games back with only five played. But everybody else with a comparable amount of games to the Cubs is at least 5 1/2 back.

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David Ross has changed the culture inside the Cubs clubhouse once again, like Joe Maddon once did. He put Kris Bryant and Rizzo at the top of the batting order and the results speak for themselves. The Cubs are patient again, they are having their way with teams, having fun, and they look like they are on a mission to do something big in this abbreviated 2020 season.