The Chicago Cubs core five players all have gotten off to slow starts to the season, can they bounce back before it’s too late?
We have seen at times over the last five or six years the Chicago Cubs offense be lethal. Grinding at-bats, walking a lot, and mashing the baseball. It seems to go in stretches of very hot to very cold with the Cubs core players.
They will have a few weeks when everything is clicking for the offense, and on the flip side, there will be weeks where the offense is nowhere to be found. They can’t get on base, and when they do get guys on, they can’t get them in. It’s been a pattern over the last few seasons.
Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber, and Willson Contreras are the Cubs core, five position players. They have been our guys for a while now. All five of the core guys have gotten off to somewhat of a slow start in this wild 2020 season.
In 126 plate appearances in 2020, Rizzo is slashing .216/.357/.382 with five home runs, 12 RBIs, and 17 walks. It seems though that Rizzo is starting to see the ball better. During Wednesday nights loss to the Tigers, Rizzo had a hit and a few RBIs. He also hit a ball about as hard as you can hit one in the ninth, but since that park in Detriot is so big, it stayed in the yard.
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Rizzo starting slow is something Cubs fans are used to as it seems every April he gets off to a terrible start but always bounces back to have a solid season. He doesn’t have that luxury of the marathon of the season this year.
Bryant has gotten off to the worst start of the five core players. In 70 plate appearances, Bryant is slashing .177/.271/.323 with two home runs and just four RBIs. Not what we are used to out of the former NL MVP. Bryant has been out for over a week now because of a wrist injury that happened on a diving catch in the outfield.
Baez is slashing .221/.262/.407 with five home runs and 14 RBIs. His problem so far this season is strikeouts and hitting the ball on the ground. Baez has struck out 39 times in 122 plate appearances. Baez’s whiff rate this season is 38.1% when the MLB average is 24.4%. Then his ground ball rate is up at 59%, which is 12 points higher than his career average.
In 116 plate appearances, Schwarber is batting .220/.328/.440 with six home runs and 13 RBIs. Similar to Baez, Schwarber has struck out 38 times this season. Schwarber’s whiff rate is on the wrong side of the MLB average, Schwaber’s whiff rate of 27.8%.
Lastly, Contreras is also struggling at the plate in 2020. In 92 at-bats, he is batting .207/.321/.370 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. Contreras’s whiff rate is also at an alarming rate. He is whiffing 39.4% of the time—way over the MLB average.
Even with all of the Cubs’ best players struggling right now, the Cubs are still sitting in first place heading into Friday’s series with the Reds. That can be credited to players like Ian Happ, Jason Heyward, and Jason Kipnis, who all have gotten off to good starts. The core guys are going to turn it around, and when they do, this team will be hard to beat.
Editors Note: The Reds and Cubs game was before the 7:15 pm on Friday.